Julia Coleman’s Responses to League of Women Voter Forum Questions

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Posted: Thursday, October 18, 2018


What is your vision for Chanhassen in the next two years?

While there are many plans and visions I have for Chanhassen in the next two years, my biggest priorities are building a stronger relationship between residents and their city government, engaging citizens in the future design of Chanhassen, providing more opportunities for public feedback, and offering more options for those wishing to get involved in the planning process.

Please state how long you have lived here in Chanhassen and what your volunteer work has been in the city?

I am going on my third year in Chanhassen, and while that may seem relatively new by Chanhassen standards, I have completely immersed myself in the community over the last few years. My favorite volunteer work in Chanhassen has by far been my work in the Lions Club, where I serve on the board of directors as their public relations chair. As a Chanhassen Lion I have been able to serve our community in multiple ways, doing everything from street cleanups to selling trees at the Christmas tree lot, and much, much more! I also serve as a co-director for a local Miss America Scholarship program and have made sure to integrate the young women I mentor into the Chanhassen community by having them volunteer at events like the Firefighter pancake breakfast fundraiser. I have also had the pleasure of serving multiple times at the Chanhassen Feed My Starving Children.

How has your experience help you understand the many special needs and opinions of Chanhassen?

By actively engaging myself in the community, I have had the pleasure of having countless conversations with people from all walks of life and all perspectives in Chanhassen. Aside from my volunteer work, my experiences directly connecting with our neighbors at the doors in Chanhassen have helped me to further understand the many unique needs and opinions of this great city. I have noticed that while everyone is different, there are common themes and concerns shared amongst residents, including a desire for a better connection to their local government, and having a larger say in the planning process.

How do you plan on making Chanhassen an affordable community to live in for both our workers that commute and for the many seniors that need to move to a smaller and more affordable house?

Being an elected representative means being responsive to all types of citizens, by heightening those connections we can work to build affordable properties for residents of all walks of life. Chanhassen is big enough to have large homes, small homes, town homes, and senior living. Chanhassen is also small enough to have a well-connected downtown that offers more opportunities and makes it easier for older residents to get from place to place. We should maintain that framework in order to make our city an affordable community for citizens of all ages.

If a vociferous group is strongly advocating for an action that you know in your heart to be bad for the community where does your duty lie?

My duty always lies in doing what is right. While I will take the time to hear everyone out and will always take their thoughts into consideration, I know I must use research and data to make the best decisions on behalf of the community. It’s understandable that emotions may run high on a given issue and those emotions are important to consider, but we also must make decisions that are based on the available facts before us.

What programs or services would you like to see implemented or changed for the youth of Chanhassen?

One thing that I have heard time and time again from parents in Chanhassen is that our recreational center needs some tender loving care. Just like you have to spend money to maintain your house, we must do the same with city assets. There is also a growing desire to make Chanhassen a more hockey-friendly city – something I can most definitely get behind and will help attract more economic activity to our city!

After the vote to approve the ALDIs and the six story apartment building, many citizens felt disenfranchised from the city’s decision making. If applicable, how did you vote, why did you vote the way you did, and what would you say to the citizens now?

While I did not vote on this issue, had I been on City Council I would have taken the time to hear more people out, and try to find other options. I understand that there was some availability for public feedback, but I have heard from many residents that they did not know about the project until it came time for the final vote. Many of our neighbors have shared with me that they felt the outcome of this critical vote was decided before the meeting and their input was ignored. With so many people finding out about this project so late, and having such a large response, I would have decided the issue clearly needed more time to be considered in the public eye before a final vote. In today’s busy world, it’s easy to not hear about everything going on, which is why I am already building an extensive Chanhassen-only contact list, so if elected I can find multiple ways of keeping as many people as possible informed on the issues.

What is your opinion on building business in Chanhassen? Would you prefer to bring in big box stores or support and grow locally owned small businesses?

I do not believe that government should inhibit a business’ ability to thrive, big or small. However, there is a large demand in Chanhassen for more unique attractions. A brewery, an upscale restaurant and more small boutiques are just a few of the many ideas I have heard from residents. In order to help small businesses start and thrive in Chanhassen, I would like to recruit local lawyers who are willing to volunteer their time to go through various city codes and zoning side-by-side with small business owners to identify areas where the city can improve its small-business climate to show that Chanhassen is open for business!

How would you improve communication with the residents of Chanhassen?

There are several ways I would like to improve communication with the residents of Chanhassen. If elected, I will host monthly open office hours where anyone can come talk to me about the issues. I will also offer a bi-weekly newsletter to keep people informed about what’s going on at City Hall, should they be interested. Most importantly, I will fight to offer more opportunities for citizen engagement and feedback. This sort of communication is critical to a transparent government and is a top priority for me.