Questions for candidates: What can the mayor do to affect the city’s relationship with Olmsted County?

October 10, 2018
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Rochester has started the process to take over some planning duties from the Rochester-Olmsted Planning Department, which is staffed by Olmsted County.

During discussion of the decision, concerns have been voiced by city and county officials, citing a potential strain on the relationship between the two government bodies.

Candidates for Rochester mayor were asked what the the city’s leader could do to affect that relationship.

Here are their responses:

Charlie O’Connell

The mayor is a key city representative in ensuring a solid relationship between the city and the county. The two governing bodies need to work very closely with each other in order to provide visibility on issues that may impact each other’s responsibilities.

Although there has been a recent change in the planning efforts of the city and county, the change was not due to the two organizations not having a solid relationship, but rather to improve the efficiencies in a growing city. Current plans will now be completed by the city staff.

The city and county will continue to work with each other in transportation and long-term planning efforts. As mayor, I will always look for ways to build trust and improve relationships.

Kim Norton

I understand the county’s concerns about the city’s desire to take over some of the duties of the planning department. But given the growth in the city’s downtown area, and the ongoing concerns by developers and builders over timeliness and process issues, allowing Rochester to take a more focused approach to planning-related issues and concerns that affect the city is a reasonable step to consider.

While serving as a state representative for Rochester, I became well-acquainted with members of the county board and developed a long-established, positive working relationship with them. As mayor, I will continue to invest in these relationships and actively monitor the impact of change on both organizations to help make the city’s role in planning process effective and beneficial for all.

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