City Council - Ward 3 Candidate: Owen Miller (Incumbent)
Q: Please list your background and specific qualifications for this position.
A: My leadership experience is the result of service to my community through serving as the chair, president or charter president of organizations including Jaycees, Boy Scouts of America, church, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Beyond the Yellow Ribbon-Douglas County-Alexandria, Glacial Ridge Estate and Financial Planning Council and Association of Life Underwriters, Veterans Administration Clinic Dedication Ceremony and Commander of American Legion Post 87.
As the owner/president of two corporations, a limited liability company, self-employed insurance agent for 48 years and city council member, I have been given the opportunity to serve on several state boards, including Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities and West Central Initiative. I was elected to serve on the advisory council to one of the nation's largest insurance companies.
These positions have required the ability to make the tough decisions, generate creative thoughts and solutions through cooperative efforts.
My wife Audrey and I have been married for 49 years, and we have three children and five grandchildren.
What we do today determines what the future holds for the next generations.
Q: What would you view as the biggest challenge facing Alexandria right now and how would you deal with it?
A: Alexandria is fortunate to be a city growing and attracting new and expanding businesses, but this also challenges us to rely on our comprehensive plan as a guideline for development. We have been reviewing the plan to see if modifications are necessary and must continue to monitor it in relation to future growth, infrastructure, road maintenance and community services, all while keeping a reasonable tax levy.
We also need to consider local transportation needs along with regional and state transportation services to and from Alexandria. Is light rail a possible means of connecting the Twin Cities and/or Fargo to Alexandria? Is a regional airport a viable consideration? We address and solve many of the situations by listening to the thoughts and concerns of our residents, including those of our senior citizens.
Q: What are your feelings about having an event center in the city? How much involvement should the city have in such a project?
A: The question of an event center is the reason a feasibility study has been authorized to determine whether or not one should be even considered. We would never know whether or not it would be a benefit to our community without the study.
Q: Is Alexandria doing enough to keep local property taxes low? What are some specific cost saving ideas you have for the budget?
A: Alexandria is not replacing park and street employees who have left or retired. The council is continuing to rework the budget in efforts to reduce the levy without any further detriment to community services. The move to hire an engineer/public works director will reduce much of the contracted engineering costs on city projects. Job descriptions are being reworded to more efficiently utilize our work force benefit to the city.
I serve on the board for the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, which works with legislators on maintaining local government aid as a way of providing for funding infrastructure needs and as a result, keeps property taxes from skyrocketing.
Q: Is Alexandria drawing enough high-paying jobs to the area? What are your ideas for improvement?
A: Again, Alexandria is fortunate to attract new and expanding businesses through the efforts of the Alexandria Economic Development Commission. The use of tax increment financing (TIF) by the city requires the payment of a livable wage. Since the economic commission was formed, it has also helped neighboring communities in Douglas County, which makes available more opportunities for employment and better wages.
There is an old saying: "As Alexandria goes, so goes the county." This is true since Alexandria is the major hub for the county, regional medical services, retail and cultural arts. As we continue to encourage development as a regional center, we will see growth in these services. This growth may best be accomplished by a countywide financially supported economic development commission utilizing the current board. As a member of your city council, I will continue to work for responsible development of our community.