We asked the Falcon Heights mayoral and City Council candidates about their backgrounds and what they saw as the greatest challenges in the city today and how they would address those challenges. Meet the candidates below.
Peter Lindstrom is seeking a third term as mayor, having first been elected to the Falcon Heights City Council in 2000. He is local government outreach coordinator for the state’s Clean Energy Resource Teams, working with cities, counties and schools on improvement programs. Also a year-round bicyclist, Lindstrom looks for any excuse to get out on the area’s roads and trails.
He says: “Our quality of life is our greatest asset. To that end, I have a strong record of improving the city’s assets; however, the city will be financially challenged in the years ahead to improve our public spaces. Some streets haven’t had significant improvements completed in two decades, clay sewer pipes are 70 years old, and the city has identified over $4 million in improvements to our parks.
“Ignoring these needs will only lead to more costly improvements in the future. I’m optimistic that we can keep our property tax reasonable and prioritize these investments.”
Lisa McDonald has been a resident of Falcon Heights for about 15 years, both as a homeowner and renter. She has held a variety of employment positions in both the private and public sector, particularly in education. Currently, McDonald is self-
employed as a tutor for children and adults.
“A great challenge for Falcon Heights will be keeping property taxes under control,” McDonald says. “In comparison to other north metro suburbs, the city of Falcon Heights has historically done a fairly good job keeping a reign on property taxes.
“To address the tax issue, I plan to continue to develop as many partnerships as possible among our nearby cities (Lauderdale, St. Anthony, Roseville). We currently share police services. There are other ways we can share services or facilities by partnering with school districts and parks and recreation departments. I have a background in business and math, and am well aware that every part of the budget is worth reviewing and scrutinizing.
City Council (two at-large seats)
Tom Brace was state fire marshal for more than 15 years and later served as executive
director of the Minnesota State Fire Chiefs Association. He is also past president of the International Association of Arson Investigators. A classic car enthusiast, Brace has served on the board of the Classic Car Club of America, as well as Packard Automobile Classics.
“One of the challenges that impacts the present City Council,” he says, “is a lack of balance. Three of the four members are attorneys. I would feel the same if three were accountants, engineers or whatever. A major part of the Falcon Heights budget deals with Public Safety and I do not see any particular expertise on the present council.
“My election would fill several voids. As the former fire marshal of Minnesota and Washington state, my election would go a long way toward bringing a lifetime’s work to the issues of fire and police administration as well as adding a senior citizen to the city council ranks.”
Randy Gustafson is chair of the Ramsey County Charter Commission and has served two terms on the Falcon Heights Planning Commission. He is employed as public
communication and crime-prevention coordinator with the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office. He is past co-president of the Brimhall Elementary School Parent-Teacher-Student Association and a board member with the Roseville Area Little League and Roseville Ducks Unlimited.
Gustafson says, “Falcon Heights, as a first-tier fully-developed suburban city, faces the challenge of continuing the legacy as a community that is safe and affordable to live in, welcoming to young families and older residents, friendly to business and encouraging of civic engagement. I believe our public services need to be delivered in the most effective and cost efficient methods that we can—whether those in need be individuals, families or organizations.
“Together, we must respect each individual while working for the common good. If elected, I will bring thoughtful, respectful and community-focused leadership to my service as a council member.”
Gordon Strom is a registered architect and senior project manager with a large
commercial architecture firm in Minneapolis. He is currently serving as chairman of the Falcon Heights Parks and Recreation Commission.
“Over the past few years we have developed a long-range planning guide for the parks system and, working with the city staff, were able to secure a $85,000 grant to build a new playground for Curtiss Field and new improvements for the Falcon Heights Elementary School play area,” he said. “Maintaining and improving the city’s infrastructure while continuing to be fiscally conservative will be the biggest challenge ahead for the city.
“As an experienced architect, managing complex and high-value projects, I will work diligently with the city finance director to maintain our AAA bond rating, seek additional county and state aid, and increase our commercial tax base,” adds Strom.
Joe Brown Thunder was appointed to a vacant council seat in 2014 and is seeking election to a full term.
“I have been an entrepreneur for the past 14 years and am confident that my experience and skills in government, corporate and nonprofits have prepared me for the challenges the city faces,” he says. “I am a seven-year resident and look forward to continuing to work for our great city.
“The most important issue for Falcon Heights continues to be the challenge of maintaining our excellent city services while balancing the budget,” says Brown Thunder. “Our changing demographics require us to reassess our approach to programming and needs for new families and seniors. We need to better understand the true cost of government, so we are better able to properly fund current programs and future initiatives. Technology is a huge opportunity in government. We need to focus on how we can use it to benefit our city and provide cost savings.”
Council member to fill vacancy ending on Jan. 1, 2018
Tony Fischer holds a master’s degree in applied economics from the University of Minnesota and is employed as metro districts freeway analysis supervisor with the
Minnesota Department of Transportation. He volunteers with Cub Scouts Pack 297 and at Falcon Heights Elementary.
“The biggest challenge ahead for the city of Falcon Heights is the constant social, technological and economic changes our city and larger society face,” says Fischer. “This most often comes in the form of nearly infinite small changes, but over time this will reshape the world we live in. This will present many challenges and opportunities. If I am elected to the Falcon Heights City Council I will continually ask questions. I will look for solutions to problems the city faces and opportunities in our changing environment for the benefit of our community.”
Michael Tracy is a real estate agent in the Roseville area who has lived in Falcon Heights for more than 20 years. He has served on the Falcon Heights planning commission, as well as the Roseville Housing and Redevelopment Authority. He first got
involved in civic affairs through the “Keeping Connected” group that Falcon Heights established in the mid-1990s to strengthen neighborhoods.
Tracy believes the top challenges are keeping Falcon Heights’ current, well-managed city services, while maintaining fair and reasonable city property taxes. “If elected, I will keep a close and frugal watch on city spending and would also like to find more ways to improve our parks and pathways, to make our city more walking, running and biking friendly,” he says.
“I would also like to see Falcon Heights look into allowing our home and apartment owners to install small windmills, to reduce global warming, and help to make Falcon Heights to become the greenest city in the United States.”