Affordable housing, Public Safety, and Human Services. The job of local government is to provide a solid foundation residents can rely on to build their lives. Olmsted County departments provide wide-ranging services including social services, voting and election oversight, garbage and recycling services, public safety and law enforcement, parks and recreation, public works, soil and water resources, and more. Olmsted County is nationally recognized for delivering excellence in these areas. Once elected my top priority working to ensure operational excellence for all Olmsted County services, with affordable housing, public safety, and human services as my top priorities.
Olmsted County is experiencing a critical housing shortage. As a Rochester Area Foundation First Homes board member I understand the urgent need for safe and affordable housing, particularly in low income, workforce, and senior housing options. Improving home ownership for immigrant families and communities of color is also a significant need. The greatest barrier these populations face is finding safe and affordable housing that is not a cost burden (more than 30% of gross income).
A well-informed public is crucial to a healthy democracy. Education, communication and transparency is key to ensuring safe, accurate and accessible elections. Olmsted County takes voting very seriously, and follows all rules, laws and regulations. It’s important to understand that elections and a function of the state. The state of MN has extensive safeguards, audits, and regulations in place to make sure elections are fair, secure, safe and accessible.
A significant challenge in the delivery of social services is the benefits cliff, a sudden cessation of assistance due to an increase in income. In most cases the increase in income does not make up for the loss of benefits. Families feel stuck in a low income status to qualify for benefits. The benefits cliff keeps people from advancing professionally. One solution is making a more flexible range of benefits. Benefit packages could be adjusted to phase out some assistance while keeping others.
Housing instability creates a cascade of overall life instabilities. When housing is insecure then finances, education, healthcare, food, safety, and mental health are destabilized. It is critically important to advocate for low income and affordable housing on the county level, even during budget cuts. Everyone needs a place to live, sleep and call home.
1. Public safety is always the number 1 priority. Our sheriffs department needs to be properly funded, equipped, and trained. We would count on Team Torgerson following best practices and do everything possible to support their efforts.
2. Fiscal responsibility-As county commissioners we oversee a budget nearing 300 million of which the bulk comes from taxpayer dollars. We must be responsible and transparent with our spending and maintain our AAA rating. As sister Generose states "no money no mission." The second part is "no mission, no money."
3. The safety net is complex array of items with needs in Olmsted County to include but not limited to affordable housing, mental health services and homelessness.
Our family has been recipients of an affordable housing program with an Aunt in Park Towers. I will do everything possible to make sure our county continues with progress towards senior housing, workforce and low income housing assistance. Olmsted County can't do it alone. We must continue to collaborate with other organizations such as Rochester Foundation, Jeremiah House, IMAA and others. I have had the opportunity to work with some of these organizations in volunteer and leadership roles.
Our vote is our voice! The Minnesota Election Law is 503 pages long. We must insure that our vote is cast, counted and recorded free of intimidation, discrimination, or election misconduct. Transparency, proper technology and training are needed for a fair and secure election.
The biggest challenge to mental health nationally and locally, is the public stigma and internalized shame. Mental health has to be treated like any other health issue. We have to start the conversation! We address this by providing education in a safe environment for children and adults so we can move to a healthier you. It has been proven that proper mental health treatment can reduce E.R visits, incarcerations and suicide attempts. Let's continue to progress forward and fund these programs.
I strongly believe in the preservation of the healthy family both physically and emotionally. If the family isn't healthy it affects every day life. A healthy family contributes to the community, county, state and country. I advocate for the preservation of physical and mental health care and housing. We need to continue funding the social services available for our children so they can grow up to be happy healthy adults.