Candidate Profiles: Cloquet City Council At Large SeatCloquet City Council At Large Seat Roy Maki • Lara Wilkinson
Question 1: How does your past experience, job or education qualify you to serve on the Cloquet City Council?
Question 2: What are the top three issues facing the city right now and how should they be addressed?
Question 3: Other than finding greater efficiencies, what areas would you look to trim first if there are unexpected budget deficits (for example, should the state choose to further cut Local Government Aid)?
My first work experience was for Maki & Son’s Sod at age 8. I have been very fortunate to work at various industries such as Ralston Purina, Potlatch and Minnesota Power Allete for over 28 years. I served as vice president and steward for the United Paper Workers International Union, Local 97. I attended Lake Superior College, graduating in 2004 with an A.A. degree in supervisory management.
The top three issues I see facing the city are crime, lack of business growth and taxes.
Because of the decline in economic conditions, crime has been escalating in the area. I recommend increasing police presence, as well as community awareness and involvement to help address this issue.
Spafford Park is a good example of adding revenue to our businesses in Cloquet. Continued growth in that venture, possibly across the river, is a sound investment.
Our state is already taxing at a high rate, passing some of that burden onto cities and townships. Working to develop realistic budgets and new sources of revenue without raising taxes would be my preferable goal.
My priority is to keep our city safe. We need to provide support and resources for our emergency responders, police, fire and ambulance departments. Our city sanitary, water supply services and city street maintenance departments require ongoing investment.
As budgets are developed, priorities are established based on need. I would look at trimming the budget based on those strategies.
I graduated from Cloquet Senior High School, and then from UMD with a Bachelor’s degree in Communication. I’m currently the marketing director for Members Cooperative Credit Union. I also worked as the director of Fuse Duluth, the Duluth Chamber’s program for young professionals. I’m well-versed in working with businesses, community groups and organizations, and can provide a dynamic perspective of the issues facing our local government.
- Economic Development. We’re emerging from a recession. We’ve made significant, essential budget cuts, and our resources are strained. With population growth outstripping projections, we need to capitalize on this momentum with deliberate and innovative planning for economic growth. We need healthy businesses of ALL sizes and living-wage jobs.
- Infrastructure Issues. Our streets, sidewalks and sewer system are ailing. Limited revenue has forced us to forgo significant repairs. We can’t continue to kick the can down the road. We have to identify opportunities (like the half -percent sales tax) that will allow us to dedicate resources to improving our infrastructure. This is a fundamental responsibility of local government.
- Quality of Life Concerns. We choose to live in small community for good reasons. Cloquet needs to be able to offer affordable housing, a safe community, and opportunities for residents and families to connect. These issues demand long-term planning and coordination between stakeholders. The coordination and support of local government and planning committees can have a profound impact in this regard.
The city has cut its budget roughly 40 percent in the last four years. We’re already feeling the strain of tight finances. We need to focus on finding ways to provide ample funding to the core services that can’t be reduced additionally. Short of that, we will likely be forced to cut staff or critical services. I believe we can avoid that.