Questions for candidates: Rochester City Council Ward 5

September 21, 2018


The following questions and responses from Rochester City Council Ward 5 candidates Shaun Palmer and Judy Hickey were previously published in the Post Bulletin and are collected here.



Housing availability and costs have been the topic of Rochester City Council conversations in recent years.

We asked the candidates running for Rochester’s Ward 5 seat what measures they believe the city should take to address existing and future housing concerns.

Here’s how they responded:

Shaun Palmer

Affordable housing have been a big concern in Rochester. For every $1,000 increase in sales price, 3,000 people are eliminated from the home-buying market. We need to provide housing for our workforce in Rochester folks that earn 80 percent of median household income.

For every new home built in Rochester, there is a sewer fee of $3,800. Fees can and should be based on permit value and affordability of the home. We need to allow tax-increment financing for affordable homes. Why should WE do this? Great people moving in will build a stronger Rochester.

Judy Hickey

Housing affordability is a concern in Rochester as DMC development plans affect growth. Rising demand and costs related to home ownership and apartment rental causes an increasing percentage income to be committed to housing costs.

Multiple actions need to be taken to address these trends. Encouraging and allowing more housing to be build will take pressure off the high level of demand in the market. Working through city, and state, government to find ways to reduce the costs related to building single-family homes in the entry-level market and to effectively use TIF dollars to encourage housing development.


Setting priorities

The Rochester City Council is working on strategic planning, with the goal of setting short-term and long-term priorities for the city.

We asked council candidates in Ward 5 what they see as the top priorities for the city in the next three to five years.

Here’s how they responded:

Judy Hickey

Rochester City Council needs to address the following priorities:

Improve communication between city government and the residents. Better effort needs to be made to inform citizens in an effective and timely manner of plans and policies that are in development that affect residents.

Rochester City Council approved the P2S Comprehensive Plan in April 2018. A review and incorporation of related planning document needs to occur, which will allow citizens to better navigate through these many overlapping documents.

Oversight, proper planning and implementation of the proposed Destination Medical Center projects and thorough examination of the related long-term cost of such projects to the city’s budget.

Careful review of the city’s budget as the Comprehensive Plan is implemented, focusing on controlling the growth of city government.

Shaun Palmer

Housing — Rochester needs to provide a commitment to the middle class and workforce housing needs in our community.

Transportation balance is needed on transportation and enough parking for employees and visitors downtown, while providing rapid bus service and bus lanes to all of Rochester. We should also change the way we deal with transportation for commuters into Rochester.

Destination Medical Center — the DMC plans need to work for everyone in Rochester, there needs to be a real concern for the average person in Rochester.

Parks Department — We need to provide enough resources for the Parks Department to properly serve Rochester. For years, we have underfunded the Parks Department, and we need to change the funding mechanism to work for all of us.



Recent transportation studies related to Destination Medical Center point to a need to reduce peak-period congestion into downtown and on downtown streets.

We asked Rochester City Council’s Ward 5 candidates what, if anything, they would suggest the council do to reduce downtown traffic impacts.

Here’s how they responded:

Shaun Palmer

The city needs a good balance on transportation. We need enough parking for all employees and visitors to the downtown. Providing Rapid Bus Service and bus lanes to all of Rochester will help accomplish this goal.

We should try to change the way we deal with commuters coming into Rochester. With Rapid Bus Service, we can have dedicated bus lanes that can accommodate transportation needs as they change over the seasons and as needed for special events.

Commuter traffic is a regional issue, so the state should be involved in providing bus service for park and ride lots at times that meet the needs of employee schedules. Parking ramps need to have the ground level reserved for business customers and provide a welcoming store front.

Judy Hickey

Increasing downtown Rochester workers’ use of public transportation and carpooling is key to reducing congestion during peak periods on downtown streets.

The Public Transit Department must partner with the Mayo Clinic, University of Minnesota–Rochester, and other downtown employers to market and incentivize the public transit system to their employees, educating the community and giving reasons to switch to alternative transit.

Public transportation should be simple, efficient and safe to use, while being economical, in order to increase the usage by daily commuters. Promote the park-and-ride lots for downtown commuters. If public transit is fast and eliminates parking hassles, people will choose it.

Improving technology through trip planning and rideshare carpooling apps will help to reduce single riders from driving and parking downtown.


What needs fixed?

A recent phone survey conducted on behalf of the city of Rochester asked what, if anything, people would like to see fixed or improved in Rochester.

Survey participants said adding parks, improving street maintenance and building more affordable housing were at the top of the list, but none of the suggestions saw support from more than 9 percent of those questioned.

We asked candidates seeking the Ward 5 seat on the Rochester City Council what single issue they would suggest needs fixed or approved.

Here’s how they responded:

Judy Hickey

Surveyed Rochester residents identified street maintenance, along with parks and housing, as a top issues needing improvement.

Street maintenance includes repair, snow removal, de-icing measures, and cleaning of streets. Proper maintenance avoids the more costly road replacement. Winter conditions stress Rochester roads making proper maintenance of primary importance. The physical condition and safety of streets are important to residents’ daily use.

City council can ensure the proper annual funding of roads maintenance, with the expectation that preventative maintenance is the top priority for the long-term upkeep of the city’s streets. The repair of potholes and sealing of street cracks need to be accomplished within a short time frame to prevent further deterioration and extend the life of our roadways to avoid the more costly reconstruction.

Shaun Palmer

The citizens of Rochester have worked very hard to make Rochester a great city.

The survey results point to a welcoming community and one that works for everyone. The goal of your councilperson should be planning for Rochester’s future by listening to the citizens and being engaged with the community, My decisions will always be based on “what is best for Rochester.”

Let’s work together on enhancing the quality of life for everyone.

Most cities would love to have these survey results that Rochester has earned.

By voting in the upcoming primary, you will pick the direction you want your city to go.

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