We asked the candidates to answer five questions (to see full text of questions Click Here) and to add any other comments they felt would help us to better understand how they would serve as Hennepin County District 5 Commissioner.
Maureen Scallen Failor
More info / Campaign Website
Reason for running: My 30 years of private and non-profit business experience positions me to provide the strong oversight and careful spending decision-making that will be necessary to contain the County’s $1.9 billion budget and help guide the 8000 workforce for results.
My business experience will help Hennepin County take advantage of the private and non-profit sectors in carrying out its operating responsibilities. My non-profit experience can help the County meet its responsibilities in taking care of our neighbors in need. I have served on the board of directors of VEAP-volunteers enlisted to assist people and Cornerstone in our community, as well as the MSP Airport Foundation. I also serve on the Hennepin County Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee.
Fiscal responsibility: Hennepin County is saddled with a huge number of unfunded mandates from the state and federal government.
This is causing way too much pressure on the Hennepin County budget and taxpayers. The County needs to do a better job of bringing transparency on these mandates and pushing back. The County needs to continue to probe cost savings without “sacred cows” and explore even more private-public partnerships.
We should not just rubber stamp increases in the budget without exploring other options such as private-public partnerships.
Evaluating the County Budget: Set goals, build a plan, measure results. I have learned that if performance is measured, performance improves. However, organizations can waste a lot of money by trying to measure everything. I will work to establish metrics, measure the right things, and then make changes if we don’t receive the desired outcomes.
Met Council Limits: First and foremost I believe the Met Council should be an elected body or at least a combination of appointed and elected. Many of the problems we see with the Metropolitan Council would go away if the decision makers were directly accountable to the constituents/taxpayers.
Second, the Metropolitan Council does best when it sticks to its operating role. It gets into its most trouble when it expands its planning authority – potentially complicating other legitimate planning processes that are closer to the communities and markets.
Thrive MSP 2040 Plan: I do have issues with the Thrive plan – largely due to what seems like too little consideration of the fiscal aspects of its various component policy plans.
Questions You’ll Ask about Light Rail: There are many questions, of course, but here a few to start with:
1. What is the flexibility of the SW Light rail line if economic development does not materialize on the line or needs change?
2. Will Southwest LRT compete directly with Southwest Metro Transit service? If so, why? We need to ask if it would cannibalize a quality functioning, reliable service that is already in place.
3. Why should Hennepin County taxpayers be targeted to pay the recently-proposed $135 million dollars to build this line which is a part of a multi-county system?
Support for County sales tax increase to fund SW Light Rail: I would not expect to vote for an increase in the County sales tax to fund SW light rail. I also believe it is not the appropriate financial responsibility to fall solely on Hennepin County. The Met Council, which has oversight on transit, needs to be a bigger contributor. The Met Council needs to make hard decisions like businesses do as to what should be their top projects and then fund them. Having the County or the state pay the lion’s share is not acceptable. A multi-county regional system needs to be fully funded by the planning/operating authority and the State of Minnesota. This should not fall on Hennepin County residents.
Other comments: In my 30 years of business, I have had to work with many sides on many issues. As Chamber President, we are a non-partisan organization. We have achieved successful results by bringing local agencies and organizations together to come up with plans and real solutions.