Q&A with Woodbury City Council challenger C. Mike Litgen
C. Mike Litgen
• Age: 49
• Address: 7836 Hill Road
• Occupation: 2014 - Current — stay-at-home Dad. Prior — US Bancorp Global Corporate Trust and Agmotion Inc.
• Education: University of Dayton, Dayton, OH — BS, Business Administration. University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN — Executive Education Certificate, Mini MBA Program. University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN — Executive Education Certificate, Business Analytics Using Microsoft Excel 2013.
• Family: Lovely wife, Lisa, and son, Marco, a third-grade student at District 833's Red Rock Elementary
• Civic involvement: Woodbury Citizens' Academy Graduate. Have spoken on issues at both City Council and South Washington County School District 833 meetings. Have attended and actively participated in other smaller setting meetings with city department heads/District 833 Superintendent Dr. Keith Jacobus. Have very good relationships with many community leaders. Look forward to working with them on continuing to build upon our economic and civic successes here in Woodbury.
Why are you running for Woodbury City Council?
I am running because I am a stakeholder in the future of Woodbury with the skills and motivation to do an outstanding job for us all. My wife and I own a home here (10 years) and our 8-year-old son attends public school here. Thus, I have skin in the game — this is our home, our community, and that ownership drives me to use my skills, that are well suited to the position of council member, to enhance the value of our investment here.
To become qualified for the opportunity, I educated and engaged myself in matters of the city. While doing so, I also started building good relationships with city department heads and community leaders.
Since moving here to Minnesota in late 2005, I have worked for two companies: US Bancorp Global Corporate Trust and Agmotion Inc. My work during this time involved financial analysis, risk management, contract negotiations and relationship management. These are skills that lead to informed and data-driven decision making. The people part of these skills involve listening with empathy and valuing the people relationships. All of these skills relate well for the work of a Council Member.
Now let's talk about being educated and engaged. I have attended and graduated from the Woodbury Citizens Academy. Through the academy, I saw how our Woodbury government is best able to facilitate our local public, private, and nonprofit sectors to thrive. For engagement, I have spoken before the city council as well as the school district board on matters that were important. When I spoke before our city council, I conducted research and presented the data, the facts, to support a decision. This past education and engagement have been important stepping stones toward becoming a council member.
What are the biggest issues or challenges Woodbury faces?
The biggest issue is the city's finances. Our city has enjoyed tremendous growth during the last two decades, and quite frankly, growth makes it easier to manage a city's finances. Although we are not there yet, we are certainly getting closer to final build, when all the land available for development in Woodbury is built upon. At that time, we will no longer have income from developers' fees, new build permits, and our tax base will be capped. We will be on our own. The preparation for that transition needs to occur very soon. I have the financial knowledge, the understanding of what we need to do to be successful. Being successful means our city has the modern technologies, equipment, and infrastructure for healthy residential and commercial communities, and that its upkeep is paid for at a tax rate among the lowest in the metro area.
The biggest challenge is addressing community reinvestment/investment which requires real dollars. What this means is reinvesting (maintaining/updating) older assets in our community and/or investing in new assets for the city. Let's talk about it in terms of real estate, like your home. Your home needs maintenance, otherwise it will deteriorate and the price of it will decline. There is no getting around this. It is the same with a city. Furthermore, let's say your home does not have an outdoor patio or deck even though the rest of the home is maintained perfectly. A realtor would say people today got to have that outdoor space, they want homes with either a patio or deck, and they will pass you by if you do not have one. In that case our city would need to provide either the patio or the deck. It is important we stay current, relevant, in a competitive market for both our residents and businesses.
Thus, taking the issue and the challenge together, we have the tug of war. We must spend to stay current, relevant, competitive, yet we must restrain so we do not become a tax burden for our citizens. I have the skills, the understanding, to lead discussions and decision making at our City Council to accomplish this.
How do you plan to address these issues?
Carefully, thoughtfully, informed and with the proper data. I will invite the community's feedback and listen carefully to it.
What distinguishes you from the other candidates?
My work experiences involved lots of cash flow analysis. This means making sure you have the money both for today's bills, as well as bills due in the future. Getting deeper, my past work also involved a lot of decision making of how much we should be willing to pay for something and restraining from purchasing it when the amount was beyond what the data determined. When elected, these are the same principles I will bring to the table.