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Ottum says better public transportation, council transparency is needed

Travis Ottum

Editor's note: This Q&A is part of a series highlighting Woodbury mayoral candidates. Read the other Q&As here

Travis Ottum

  • Age: 30
  • Occupation: Investigator
  • Family: Married, one child
  • Civic involvement: Four years as a volunteer with the public safety department

Why should residents vote for you?

I am seeking votes because I am a believer in what is right for communities. I trust that the citizens will bring up concerns and feel that they have every right to make a stand for what they believe in.

What's the biggest issue facing Woodbury?

One of the biggest issues in Woodbury is the lack of public transportation. Most people who work in Woodbury can't afford to live in Woodbury and conversely, most people who live in Woodbury can't afford to work in Woodbury. Our Park and Ride areas are a mere .4 miles away from each other. Those that use the public transportation to St. Paul or Minneapolis have to drive too far in order to get to those connections. If we had a sufficient public transportation system in our city that connected to other cities at multiple and logical locations, Woodbury businesses would be able to hire more employees seeking the wages that can be earned here. Furthermore, if done to my vision, our public transportation would benefit our city and our schools by connecting the high schools to places to work. There's a massive untapped resource in our young workforce, a population who merely lack a way to get a ride after school or after their extracurricular activities to an after-school job. Connecting the young workforce to local employers with entry-level jobs would give kids work experience and employers access to a stream of entry level employment.

What could current city leadership be doing better?

The current city leadership could be doing a better job at communicating with residents about the local issues that are affecting our city and how they are solving these problems. Specifically the contaminated water issue, the lack of public transportation, increasing property taxes, along with the budget. I'm baffled how a city can approve a budget that is over the forecasted amount and not see any issue with it.

The Metropolitan Council expects Woodbury to add 20,000 residents by 2040. The city's 2040 Comprehensive Plan addresses this. What is your opinion of the plan and how will you begin to implement it?

I think the 2040 Comprehensive Plan is incredibly short sighted. The plan eliminates commercial and manufacturing zoned space while simultaneously placing requirements on business and light industrial zoned property that make it more expensive and, quite frankly, less desirable to locate here. To make up for the lack of a tax base that pays five times that of its residents, the city will be forced to meet its budget through property taxes from its citizens. Woodbury should be a city in which you can live and work. There is no plan for what happens when the city runs out of the development money they are currently receiving.

Hannah Black

Hannah Black is a reporter and photographer for the Woodbury Bulletin. She is a proud graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism. Outside of reporting, she enjoys running, going to museums and trying new coffee shops. Her favorite thing to do is spend time with her dog, Wendell.

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