Normally when I write for this blog my post(s) have something to do with legal issues. With just a few days before this election, I am going to do something a bit different with this post.
In my almost sixteen years of practicing law, primarily as an advisor and advocate for small businesses and their owners, I have seen how the actions of our elected officials – particularly at the state and local level – impact my clients and their industries. The law does not remain static, and if a change is needed for a business to grow, thereby creating additional jobs and adding to the community’s tax base, the people we have in charge matters a great deal.
An example of this is the State of Minnesota five years ago allowing breweries to have “taprooms” where they could sell their products directly to consumers. Prior to the law, there were a dozen or so breweries in the State of Minnesota; five years later, that number is approximately 120.
Local officials may not have the power to have that kind of an impact, but I have seen what strong leadership from a Mayor and City Council can do for a city. During college and law school I lived in St. Paul with Norm Coleman as Mayor. I watched as Mayor Coleman transformed the role of Mayor into the “City CEO” and worked tirelessly to bring businesses, including a new NHL franchise – to his city.
Since 2004, I have worked in downtown Minneapolis, and I observed Mayor R.T. Rybak and Councilmembers such as Gary Schiff create a vision of Minneapolis as the hub of Minnesota’s craft beer industry and extend resources to make that vision a reality.
This type of leadership is not exclusive to big cities. Former Shakopee Mayor Brad Tabke – who, I might add, was part of the 2014 Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal’s “40 Under Forty” class along with yours truly – worked to bring businesses and jobs to his city, and successfully landed Amazon, Shutterfly and Badger Hill Brewing, among others.
In other words, it can be done, with the right leaders, anywhere in Minnesota… including Albertville.
My wife and I have been Albertville residents for over ten years now, and I also represent a number of local businesses and their owners. I watched as the City dealt with the crushing blow of the real estate crash and subsequent recession. With development halted, city services were cut in an effort to hold the line on taxes. Those efforts were needed at that time.
However, times change, and the communities surrounding Albertville are now making big moves to grow their tax base. Dayton has added Clam and Federal Express, and Otsego now has an industrial park which includes a Room and Board distribution center.
I spent two years (2013-2014) on the Albertville Planning and Zoning Commission. In that time it became clear to me that the City takes a reactive, rather than a proactive approach to business development. We don’t have the kind of strategic thinking and planning that has taken place in other communities. We simply approve what comes to us. We also don’t offer any sort of incentives such as TIF financing and other economic development programs which nearby communities do. As a result, we unnecessarily take ourselves out of the game when it comes to bringing businesses and jobs to Albertville.
I have spoken on numerous occasions with city staff as well as members of our law enforcement community, and I get the distinct impression that they are overworked, yet frustrated that they cannot do more to improve our growing community.
It is for all of these reasons that I am supporting my good friend Brad Cedergren for Mayor of Albertville. As a small business owner himself, Brad knows what it will take to transform the role of Mayor to “CEO of Albertville.” I believe that Brad will take to the job of Mayor in the style of a Norm Coleman, an R.T. Rybak or a Brad Tabke, and be proactive in bringing businesses to our City, which will increase our tax base and in turn help complete the various residential developments left stagnant during the recession, fund needed capital improvements and restore city services (including law enforcement) to the proper levels.
Unlike some cities, however, one can only do so much as Mayor of Albertville, as the Mayor is just one vote on the Council. That’s why I am also supporting Jeremy Dominick and Paul Turpin for City Council. These two individuals have been active in the community and understand what it means to be a public servant. They are not running to do this job for the next thirty years; they want to make our City better now.
While our local elections have not received the attention that certain other races have this election cycle, they may be the most important positions for which we will be voting. Please join me in supporting Brad Cedergren for Albertville Mayor, and Jeremy Dominick and Paul Turpin for Albertville City Council, on November 8.
Jeffrey C. O’Brien is a resident of the Towne Lakes neighborhood and an attorney with the Minneapolis-based law firm of Lommen Abdo, P.A., practicing in the areas of business and real estate law, including representation of over 50 craft breweries and distilleries. Prior to becoming an attorney, Jeffrey was active in Minnesota politics and policy and worked for former U.S. Senator David Durenberger.
Editor’s Note: North Wright County Today accepts editorials on behalf of candidates under certain guidelines. The editorials can and will be edited for length. Content may not include unfounded accusations or rumor, and writers must provide corroboration for facts. No editorials will be accepted after Sunday, Nov. 6.