Ray Salazar is running against Danene Provencher and Heidi Gesh for a seat on the Mound City Council. Ms. Gesh did not respond to Patch's invitation to participate in this segment.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Share something most people don’t know about you.
Happily married, father of one sweet six-year-old little girl. Born San Francisco, CA. Owner operator of two Subway restaurant franchises. Twenty-year resident of Mound. Mound City Councilman, four years (incumbent), Mound Personnel Committee two years, Mound Planning Commission, Vice Chair three years.
University of California at San Jose State, Business Administration/Business Management. University of Minnesota Business Law Strategic Business.
What sorts of thoughts come to mind when you think of Lake Minnetonka?
Lake Minnetonka is one of the most beautiful Lakes I have ever seen. Lake Minnetonka is large enough that many people consider it the west coast of the Twin Cities. My favorite season is summer, and my favorite sports are water sports, boating, water skiing, swimming any water related sports.
I played water polo in high school and college, so you can see why water sports are my favorite and Lake Minnetonka provides an excellent opportunity to enjoy water sports. I could not imagine living any place else.
Are invasive species a local, state or federal issue? Or is it a mix? Describe your views.
Invasive species is a national issue as the invasive species came here from someplace else and if those same invasive species are ruining our waters here in Minnesota, it is likely the same problem will prevail in other lakes across our country.
Unfortunately, this problem cannot be easily fixed as vessels can transport those species to any body of water. We can only hope to slow down the growth of invasive species.
What is the most common issue people talk with you about while campaigning? What do you tell them?
Government on all levels is too large, taxing people out of their homes, similar to a fish in an aquarium, growing and requiring more money. Government should work for tax payers, rather than tax payers working to support the government. Government must operate on limited budgets, doing more for less as we tax payers do in our homes and businesses and concentrate on the key Government functions: POLICE, FIRE, WATER and streets.
Government employees salaries and benefits should be in balance with the average citizen tax payer's income.
How do you feel about the current property tax levels? What about school district taxes (understanding the city council has no control over them)?
Some taxes are necessary and the only fair tax is an income tax as it represents a tax payer's ability to pay. Property taxes are antiquated in that it was originated when our society was largely agricultural and the more land one had the greater amount of money he would make in farming that land, hence paying more in property taxes.
Unfortunately, our property tax system penalizes you if have a nice home and/or improve your home, which does reflect ones ability to pay more taxes.
School taxes are also a necessity to maintain and improve our schools for our children, unfortunately schools are often requesting more funding and more money is not always the answer to the problem. Open enrollment has required schools to become more competitive and offering a better education for our children. Voters may request their legislators change the law to allow their tax dollars for educating their children be directed to any school of their choice be it public, private and/or parochial.
This type of absolute open enrollment would require our public schools to work even harder and more efficiently with the net gain to the student.
If the funding were available, what projects—either shovel ready or on the drawing board—would you advocate dedicating it to inside the city?
Funding for shovel-ready projects have been exhausted.
Are you satisfied with the public safety services being provided to residents inside the district?
Public safety is the single most important service that government provides it's citizens. In Mound we have an award-winning police department. After extensive research Mound has recently decided to merge it's police department with the Orono Police Department, with our Mound officers joining with equality the Orono Police Department.
I am confident that the merger scheduled for January 2013 will be successful and service and response levels will remain high. As long as I am a Mound City Councilman I will work hard to insure the citizens of Mound will receive excellent service with the new police services agreement.
How would you encourage the average citizen to become more engaged in state government?
Volunteering. When you volunteer you give for more than a tax and/or donation, you give of yourself, your time, your talents and your heart.
When you volunteer you get a great feeling of pride. In Moud you could volunteer to help clean up some of our many parks, or join the park commission, docks commission, planning commission or volunteer at your church of faith. Volunteering helps get the job actually done.
Open forum. Why should voters cast their ballot for you this November?
Ray Salazar, I am a Mound City Councilman incumbent. I have helped produce two zero-levy budgets for 2010 and 2011 and a 6.75 percent levy reduction for 2012 and helped reduce city government size by 20 percent. I believe governments function is: police, fire, water and streets.
I believe government should be working to serve the citizens rather than citizens working to serve government. I will continue to be ever vigilant in reducing taxes and requiring city government to be more efficient and operate on a limited budget as we do in our homes and private businesses. I will work to maintain and improve our services and infrastructure for our citizens and businesses. I will work to balance city government salaries and benefits with our common tax payers income and benefits.
I listen to you the tax payer, the tax payer's voice at city hall, putting principles above politics.