Mary Jo Fulkerson is running against Marianne Stebbins and Greg Miller for one of two four-year Excelsior City Council seats up for election Nov. 6.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Share something most people don’t know about you.
I was born and raised in Excelsior and have spent most of my life in this great town. I was the youngest of seven children, but I survived. Most people know too much about me—therefore I will refrain from sharing any more secrets.
What sorts of thoughts come to mind when you think of Lake Minnetonka?
Being raised on Gideon Bay of Lake Minnetonka I can only thank God for such a wonderful opportunity. Originally we just had a rowboat to get around the lake and usually would row over to Big Island (this was way before all the development).
Later a 10-horse motor was added which expanded our use of the lake. Then a sailboat which we used extensively but normally tipped, and the poor Excelsior Fire Rescue had to come drag us home. Lots of fun. The Fire Rescue finally told our father that they were not going to come to the rescue so we better learn to sail or sell the boat.
Of course, I didn't appreciate our wonderful lake home until l was no longer living there. That's when it really became special.
Are invasive species a local, state or federal issue? Or is it a mix? Describe your views.
I believe this is a state issue in association with other impacted states (i.e., Wisconsin). Of course if this invation gets totally out of control I find no recourse but to obtain national help.
What is the most common issue people talk with you about while campaigning? What do you tell them?
When is the hotel going to be built? When is the grocery store opening? I can only give estimated times and that the new coucil must work to complete these projects in a concise, practical mode to ensure all development is complimentary to our great city.
Our new library will begin construction in 2013 with an anticipated opening in 2014. It all takes time, but I am committed to working on all new projects.
How do you feel about the current property tax levels? What about school district taxes (understanding the city council has no control over them)?
Property taxes are always a topic of concern. The current Excelsior City Council has worked dilegently to lower city costs, we reorganized city staff and services and thus were able to have zero levy increase in both the current year and 2013.
As for the school district, the student enrollment is growing and thus the district is working to also grow the school rooms and buildings. I would prefer a slower growth, but education is a high priority if the USA is to compete with other markets.
If the funding were available, what projects—either shovel ready or on the drawing board—would you advocate dedicating it to?
The city has planned carefully with a 10-year comprehensive plan and adequate reserve funds. We need to proceed with infrastucture repairs; park improvements and, if extra funds become availabe, our City Hall needs enormous amounts of remodellng or possibly rebuilding.
It is not a very welcome site for visitors or residents. Plus, our meeting room is on the second floor.
Are you satisfied with the public safety services being provided to city residents?
Very much so. I personally required their services over the last few years, and the response time and work they performed was incredible. My concern is primarily the costs which are devided among south lake cities with Excelsior paying considerably more support funds.
How would you encourage the average citizen to become more engaged in local government?
I would explain the many ways for involvement are primarily through the city commissions and which expands their horizon with people and tasked that volonters can do. Also our newly developed (reorganized) Web site is a extensive research tool.
Open forum. Why should voters cast their ballot for you this November?
These are exciting times for Excelsior—a new library, new grocery store and the potential for the first hotel in the lake area in decades. I have been involved and voted yes for these new development opportunities. I would like to serve for the next four years and see the completion of these exciting projects.
The city needs continuity to insure success. This year there are four seats open on our five-person council. I don't want to see our efforts dragged out further with introduction for a brand new council who will need to learn from the beginning.