Now that I’ve picked on poor Tim Behm, it’s his opponent’s turn in the hot seat. Again this is a full, unedited transcription with nasty notes by your City Beat.
Tyrone Grandstrand, Ward 2 City Council candidate
Address: 409 Cambridge St. (address to change with upcoming home purchase).
Job: Student, research assistant.
Family: Wife Rebecca.
Education: Attending UND majoring in economics, political science. (Plans to pursue Master’s at UND.)
Leadership experience: Student Body president, 2008-2009.
Q: Why are you running? Are there any particular things that are causing you to want to run?
A: I’m running because I think I can do some good. Grand Forks, N.D., the whole region has a few issues with retaining young people and I think there are things that I can do as a City Council person to basically improve the quality of life in Grand Forks among all residents and, in effect, helping young families and young people, too, so they want to stay.
Some of the things I want to do are encourage things like community building, things like the community gardens that they’re doing and other things like that where citizens get together and they decide they want to do something and if the city can help in anyway. What they’re doing for that, or what they are probably gonna do for that is just providing just basically water — they’ll have to pay for that — some garbage cans and a lot on city land. [Since the interview, the city has agreed to lease one lot of land by the water treatment plant, which also provides the water.]
So anything we can do to encourage things that create a sense of community, I really want to do.
And then I want to make sure that people, that citizens have some more say in what their government does. One of the easy ways to do that, or the most passive way, is just to do more, just to do surveys. I would focus more on qualitative data so having people fill out and actually write down what they think rather than just filling in circles. That’s something the university does. And I think it’s useful to have just straight numbers, but I think it’s more useful to know what people are really thinking because if you fill out that 1 to 7, do you strongly agree or do you strongly disagree, it doesn’t give you — you don’t know what the person meant by that so I think that’s important. [My experience with people is half of them exaggerate, so the bitching and moaning is just their way of making chitchat. The other half will say only a tenth of what they really feel so when they say something is kind of bothering them, it's really pissing them off. Tyrone ought to read the letters to the editor sometime. Numeric rankings are useful because they're more precise.]
More than that, I think we should encourage people that are on the council or that in on other positions in government to meet with constituents more often to let them know how they can have an effect on their own lives, whether it’s in government or just in the community in general. I think to give people a sense that they can really make the world, or make the city a place they want it to be and they can change it however they want, you can really unleash a powerful force. [Two words:Â Open house. Tyrone ought to attend one of these open houses at City Hall and see how many people show up. Usually, it's me, a staff person and some consultants. People just want to live their lives. They don't want to meet with some goof from the government unless the government has seriously goofed up in some way.]
I haven’t seen a lot of that so far. And I think I can bring that with just a little bit of promotion, going around talking to people and letting them know how they can make a difference.
Another thing that I want to do is connect citizens with resources that are already around, whether it’s the university, some of the local nonprofits, or the state, federal and local programs. There are programs for people that are buying their first house, not everybody knows about. It’s something Becca and I have been able to take advantage of. There are lot of other programs that people can use that they probably don’t know about or they might know they exist but don’t really want to go searching for whatever reason, whether it’s pride or whatever else. [Maybe the city Web site could be more useful in this regard. The info is often there, but is hard to get to.]
And then I want to take a look at what we’re doing right now with economic development, which is basically to support businesses that build something here or produce a product here and then export it to some other area far away from Grand Forks. [This sounds like a Dan Quayle explanation. I hope this isn't how Tyrone talks about economic development in his econ classes. Exporting goods and services "to some other area far away" isn't the point. The point is the importation of fresh capital into the regional economy. Most other businesses are just recycling cash that already exists in the region, the newspaper business, for instance.]
That’s a really useful thing, but I think we can expand that to help business owners and interested entrepreneurs to gain the skills they need to just do a better job, running their business. If you can reduce cost you can pay more you can reduce the price of your product and that’s gonna help all of Grand Forks. And if we sort of met each other at maybe a clinic where you teach people skills that successful business owners know and that university professors know and members of the Chamber of Commerce know if you can teach everybody those things, everybody can meet each other, you have the sense of the resources that we have in Grand Forks. [Research fail. There are already plenty of groups in town that offer classes and workshops. UND's Center for Innovation, SCORE, or Service Corps of Retired Executives, the Chamber also offers some classes. Why try to reinvent the wheel?]
And if we can maximize the use of those resources, that social capital, we can do a lot better as a city. And so I think that’s just coordinating among different groups to get them to work together to put something that would be really free. It might cost a little but it’d be really minimal and the benefit can be real large.
And then the last thing — it affects everybody and it’s been talked about for a while — and that’s the cost of housing in Grand Forks. Specifically rent is what I would want to focus on. And there are two ways that I think we can affect that pretty easily at the city.
One is incentivizing cooperatives, housing cooperatives. Just like the cooperatives like Nodak Electric and Amazing Grains cooperative, they work really well. North Dakota likes them because they’re all over here. So it’s something that’s accepted. [It really depends on how the co-op is arranged. Most people, once they reach a certain age, lose interest in experimenting in communal living. It's one thing to share an electric plant or a garden, but I can't see too many people that would want to share their kitchen with five other people and any of those people's friends that drop by.]
And basically what a cooperative would do is, the people in it are renters, but they’re also owners because they’re part of the cooperative. And so they’re only paying for the expenses of the housing and they’re not paying any profit margin for anybody, except if they have a loan — they’re obviously paying interest — but that’s a lot smaller, especially right now with the rates where they’re at. And people would be paying $50 maybe $100 less a month and that adds up really really fast.
And then you also have that pride of ownership, which you don’t get with renters, and that’s something that would be really good for building communities because you’re going to have yards that are kept up better and buildings and houses that are kept up much better because they actually own it; it’s not just a rental situation. And there’s a couple ways the city can help with that. But, basically, the point is to incentivize it and help people get those things set up. [Four words:Â Tragedy of the commons. It means that when everybody is responsible for something then nobody is responsible for anything.]
Another thing is that we have an ordinance on the books right now that only allows four people to live together that are not related to each other. And even if you just inched up to five or six that would basically reduce prices for anybody that wanted to have one or two more roommates and then for everybody else it reduces the number of people looking for housing so the prices come down. And that’d be an easy way to save a little bit of money on rent. As long as we can look into any problems that might cause and make sure those get taken care of. But by just increasing by one or two people I think we’d be in good shape, then we’d reduce the cost of living for everybody in Grand Forks. [Research fail. This is exactly what Ward 2 doesn't want. A few years ago, because of the conflicts between student renters and homeowners in Ward 2, the homeowners got the city to down-zone the area so landlords couldn't have as many renters. Fewer renters mean, among other things, fewer people to compete with for street parking.]
So basically, what I want to do is increase quality of life by reducing the cost of rent and empowering citizens to work together to make, to come up with good things to do, to make sure citizens know they really do have a say in what their government does and make ways for to people express what they want to have done and work to build a stronger community basically.
Q: What do you think of the status of… How do you think Grand Forks treats young professionals today? You want to make it friendlier. What is it like today?
A: I want the quality of life to improve for everybody in Grand Forks; it’s not for young people in particular. But by improving the quality and increasing the sense of community you’re going to automatically keep people here because they’re going to lay down roots and they’re going to be excited to stay here.
I’ve been here since ’97 and, although initially, back in sixth grade, I didn’t really want to move, but now I’ve been here for a long time and I’ve got roots and I’m really excited about Grand Forks because of what it’s given me. I’ve invested a lot of time and energy into Grand Forks, into the university and school. It’s… I’m going to stay here now. That’s why. It’s because I have a lot invested in Grand Forks.
So as far as the friendliness to young people, it varies from person to person. You can’t just say Grand Forks good or bad; I don’t think that’s really fair. But we can improve the quality for everybody and that, in effect, makes it easier for people to stay here, or more likely that they’ll stay here.
Q: You think that people… You were talking about trying to get people more engaged — Do you really think they want that? Or do they prefer to just watch from the sidelines and then, if they are upset with something, they’ll let you know. The reason I ask is I’ve been to some of these neighborhood meetings and there’s really a very tiny number of people that go. And I don’t know if [Ward 2 Council member Mike] McNamara does it anymore but I think he wanted to at the beginning, but it turned out not to be as engaged or as engaging as he probably was hoping. So is there a way to improve that or do we need to improve it?
[I'm kind of full of crap here. I vaguely remembered a meeting that Mac held early in his tenure on the council. It was actually a meeting to talk about taxes and he did call on taxpayers to go to council meetings and "flex your muscles." Some taxpayers did go to meetings sporadically, but they don't anymore.
But my point to Tyrone was that the majority of residents are not like him; they do not want to spend that much time getting engaged. They vote for people to do that on their behalf.]
A: There are a couple of things.
First of all, there are always going to be people who just don’t want to pay attention. They’ve got other things in their lives that they care about that are more important, either at the moment or always more important. That’s OK. Those people, I think we can reach them with surveys. You don’t have to have a very long survey. You can just have one to five questions maybe for people to fill out and maybe one of those is essay where they write down what they really feel. That’s only gonna take maybe 20 minutes for someone to do. And that could be once a year or less. And so for those people you can just reach them and ask them what they think through a survey. [He's probably right that it's time for another survey, though if it were not scientific it would be hard to know what to do with it. In a recent debate, Tyrone suggested that the surveys could be just informal, which probably means whoever wants to send them back in can send them back in. The problem with this is angry people have a much greater incentive to do this. People who think things are fine may not bother.]
As far as getting more people to get together whether it’s a neighborhood meeting or a citizens’ group on a single issue or many issues, it takes a lot of work to get those things going and it takes a lot of work to keep them maintained. And so we need somebody who’s willing to go out and find people that are interested in one topic or give people a reason to meet together.
And part of that is just going out and talking to a lot of people. That’s something we can use, people who are already elected officials or government leaders, they could go out and they have knowledge of how a lot of the institutions in Grand Forks works already so they can help those people learn them. Because not only do you need people to go out and get people to come together, they need to be able to feel like they can do something.
And that’s a feeling that’s really common, that basically we don’t have any power, among everybody, among Americans basically. There’s a lot of apathy. But I don’t think it’s because they don’t care about something, it’s because they don’t think they can do anything as one person. But if you can change that sense of the world with people, I think you can get them to… They will be interested. The level of interest, I’m not sure what it will be, but it’s something I want to work on.
Q: Just as an interested observer and not as someone from the inside, how would you assess city government the way it’s run now? On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the best possible? And then you can explain why you would feel like that.
A: I don’t think it’s really… I talked about surveys earlier… I think qualitative is better than just a number. So I’m reluctant to give a number to city government. I think that the people that have been there now have done some really good things.
Mike McNamara, the person who… the seat I’m trying to fill, he did a lot of work with Springfest. That was something that the community was concerned about. And him along with members of Student Government worked to make it safer and more organized. And now, I went around during Springfest, door-to-door, and there were really only two people of all the houses that I went to — and I went to as many as I could within earshot of the park — and there were only two people that were really not sure about it and they even said they really thought that it was a lot better than in the past.
So I think that there have been a lot of things that people have done that are really good and that’s an example of one. But people still feel like — I’m basing this off of United Way’s research, that they did recently — people don’t feel confident in the leadership of the city or the people that are in city government now.
And I don’t know if that’s necessarily reflective of the people in there or maybe it’s how they’re reaching out to people. And that’s one of the things that I want to do is to make sure people know that they have a say over what happens and they can make changes in what city government does. So they don’t have to feel like we don’t have the right leadership to move forward and make Grand Forks a better place to live.
Q: How about if I phrase it like this: Instead of 1 to 10, do we need… Would you say that we need a lot of improvement, that we need a little bit of improvement, or are we doing kind of about right?
A: I think as far as the way managing the city goes…
Q: Just as somebody who is a citizen, or a resident of the city, and who knows obviously a little bit more because you’ve done some research and are interested — what do you think of the job of the city? Has it done its duty to its residents? Are taxes too high or are they just right? Are the services good enough or do we have too many luxury services that we can’t afford? Or should we have more services? Those kind of things would go into that kind of question.
A: Well, I think that, overall, everything can be improved a little bit. You can always improve your services and you should always be striving toward perfection. You’ll never reach it so you should always be working hard on it.
And you should always be working to make things cost less, challenge expenses, make sure that you’re not overspending on something. I’ve seen that a lot at the university where they buy something from the place they’ve always bought it from and now it’s two, three or four times the expense that it would be at some other place. So I think that those things are always something to be working on.
If I were to give it a grade, I’d give it a general B-, standard, typical things that the city does. But we can always do better, we can always make things less expensive so you don’t use as much money from taxes or keep it the same for a really long time. And you can always make services better.
The thing that I think the city can improve on the most is that outreach, letting citizens know what’s going on, what the city does, giving them consumable information, and not just having it available, but actually getting it to citizens whether it’s through mail or pushing it out on the Internet in many different ways. But making sure citizens understand or are able to understand in a relatively short amount of time what the city does and what services are available in Grand Forks, whether it’s through City Council or the county the school board, the state, the federal government. I think it’s really important that we have that information out there in a consumable way. [I can't say I disagree. The info on the city's Web site is useful, but only if you already know a lot about how City Hall works. I've had the benefit of years of experience and hours and hours of explanations from government officials. Most residents don't have the time or the access.]
And then further more, I think people need to be able to have some input on it. And that’s, like I said, we can do that through surveys, which the city doesn’t do currently, not on any regular basis anyway. Basically, all we have now is elections.
Q: They had a survey when I first started doing City Council maybe eight, nine years ago. That was a very helpful piece of information to know that people thought their taxes were high, but they were not outrageous. Things like that. You’re right, it would be helpful to know.
A: And that United Way report. It was eye-opening to see what people cared about. It’s not necessarily a perfect thing because it was only a small sample — you can generalize — but if you can get most people in Grand Forks, you can get a lot better idea of the specific concerns. Because, like I said, if you’re just filling in dots, you don’t really know what people really think. What you think of as a B+ means and what I think a B+ means can be very different. And you might have one situation where a citizen didn’t like something in their service, or they think that their special assessment was too high, or whatever it is, and they won’t really see that in a B or a C or a 1 through 10.
Q: Besides the survey from United Way, have there been other ways for you to assess the desire for people to be more involved or that they feel unengaged?
I ask because I wonder if there have been personal experiences that you’ve had where people say, “You know, I really don’t feel like I have any say in this town. I just don’t feel at home here.” Or something like that. Is there something other than the surveys that you can call upon to sort of… I guess to find a qualitative… to get a qualitative sense rather than… to sort of supplement the quantitative data that you have from the survey. [It's great to listen to myself on these interview recordings. I sometimes talk the way I write and you can tell I'm trying to rewrite an awkward sentence in my head.]
A: When I went around to get my signatures to get on the ballot and when I’ve gone around since talking to people, most people, if you can get five minutes of their time, will have something to say about what they think about the city. It’s usually a small complaint or a few suggestions that they’ll have.
At the university, even in high school — I went to high school here — it didn’t feel like I had a lot of say in what happened and I think my peers saw that, too, and so you see people become disengaged when they can’t really have an effect on their surroundings. Some people act differently, but, a lot of times, it’s disengagement.
And, at the university, it’s the same thing, and you’ll see people who want to see something changed, when it’s something like expenses are too high, or they want a specific program, or they want a specific idea to work out, or they want to change how services are provided and, if they don’t get a positive affirmation that what they’re trying to do is working, very quickly, it’s easy to give up, because it just feels like, without a position of power, that you don’t have any.
And so, having basically been there, and seeing lots of people have those feelings and express those feelings at the university and, when I’ve been going around Ward 2, they think that there’s something wrong with the service and if they can just uncover it a little bit, we’ll see a lot more activity.
[Ward 2 residents got the city to crack down on absentee landlords and rental housing. Ward 3 got Riverside Pool on the ballot and now the Near Northside Neighborhood is working on a community center. There are too many examples of successful community engagement to offer much of an excuse for apathy.]
Q: Do you think that people that are older may have a different perspective. I always think that younger people feel that way because they’re outnumbered most of the time. Most of the people that are of voting age are older folks and they tend to vote very similarly because — maybe that’s generalizing — but their concerns tend to be very different. They have families; they worry about schools and that sort of thing and younger people tend to have different concerns so it’s natural that you’ll be outvoted so you’re going to feel a little discouraged that nobody’s really paying attention. And maybe you have other things as well, you have school and work and it’s just a very busy time in your life. Have you talked to some of the older folks — you’ve been going around — do you feel you’re getting the same sense — I wouldn’t say “helplessness” but “disengagement”?
A: It’s basically the same. People have ideas and they want to share them. And if you ask them, they’ll tell you. But they’re not necessarily going to go to the City Council meeting and share that way. It’s just they have to go a distance. They have to find out when the City Council meetings are. And they have to get up and speak publicly and that’s not something a lot of people are comfortable with. [Gimme a break. People can always e-mail or call their council representative. If they're too lazy or chicken to do that, it's nobody's fault.]
As far as the interests of older people versus younger people, I don’t think they’re actually that different. I think a lot of times you’ll hear people on the edges, people who maybe post on forums anonymously, things like that, they might say something that’s not nice to young people, not nice to older people and make claims about what they think the motivations of one group or another is.
But I don’t think you can really say that. We all live in the same place. People who are younger, just got out of high school, their concerns, their experiences there affects their thoughts now, even though it’s not directly in their self-interest to worry about what’s happening with the schools, they care about it because they were just there. And, eventually, they’ll probably have children. Everybody has family so you probably are connected to the same issues. [I don't recall any of my classmates giving a rip about high school after we finally got out of there. Our interests were going to college, having a good time and, some of us, volunteering. We didn't want to destroy the high school, but clearly our interests and priorities were not the same as older folks.]
It might not be as directly, but… I’ve never heard someone say “I think we should spend less money on this thing for the old people because it’s not important.” I think basically the concerns are similar. There might be a slightly different level of importance on what’s important. Maybe younger people want more social things to do. But I don’t think that’s even true. I think basically people might want to do different things but their concerns are similar. I don’t think there’s an old versus young thing. ["A different level of importance on what's important" is a different way of saying priorities differ. And that can make a huge difference.]
Q: I think there is something. I don’t necessarily disagree with you on the broader scale but you wonder whether the attitude toward something like Springfest is going to be different between someone who’s with kids and who’s 40 versus someone who’s 22 and have no kids and are in school. Don’t you think they’re going to have divergent interests? And, depending on which part of the voting bloc you’re with, it’s very likely one group is going to be outnumbered by the other, in this case because there’s simply more older folks than university students. That’s really what I was getting at.
A: We can use Springfest. When I went around and talked to people. I talked to younger people and I talked to older people and I talked to people who are middle-aged and have children. And, basically, their concerns were the same.
Springfest used to be a lot less organized than it is now. And that’s when they didn’t like it. It didn’t matter who it was. And, now that it’s more organized and taken care of and sponsored, it’s just one day where they have to put up with a little loud music, but it’s not really a problem. And they all really appreciate how much better it’s gotten.
So I think it might seem like that one in particular that it’s young versus old even the people who go to Springfest, I mean that’s just a specific population of youth basically. It’s not every single person who’s young who goes to Springfest. And anybody who’s near something that’s really loud or they have people doing their stuff on their property, nobody’s going to like that whether they’re young or old. So, I think it’s really a question of what one small part of the population might want versus everybody else. And I think that’s what we’ve seen with Springfest.
And now that it’s more organized we’re able to give people their day where they have a lot of fun. And we still respect the property of people around University park. There are little things, but I don’t necessarily think it’s young versus old. I think it’s just one group versus… one subpopulation versus another, not necessarily young versus old. [Yes, but they wanted very different things. The homeowners would just as soon see Springfest go away. The students want their party. Just because they came to a compromise doesn't mean they have the same interests.]
Q: I was gonna… We talked about this earlier, that we would ask standard questions and we already asked your opponent (Tim Behm) this question. But I think you already answered it so I’m just going to read it so you know that my intent was to ask the question, which was: What do you think would move the city up on that scale that we talked about? And I think you’ve already given us several things that you would like to see done.
So we’ll move on to the next question, which is: Why do you think you would be a good fit for this office?
A: I think that somebody who is going to be in public office has to take the consideration, take the needs of who they’re representing over what they want specifically. And I think that they need to be creative in trying to find ways to solve the problems that the people they’re representing have. Just with the things that I’ve said, I think I’ve demonstrated that I’m able to do that.
On top of that, one of the top things that people mentioned in that United Way thing as a critical problem was retention of youth. And having someone who can speak from that perspective is going to be useful.
I can see pretty clearly the things that make people want to stay or make people want to leave because I hear people that are leaving talk about it. There’s nothing to do in Grand Forks. The cops maybe are not nice. Or whatever. You hear a lot about what people have concerns with. There aren’t jobs for people who have an education. You’ve gotta go to the cities to get paid the same amount. These are all concerns that I hear all the time. So having someone that is from that age that’s much different than the rest of the council, than the rest of the city leadership I think is useful.
So basically, I think that it’s good to have diverse perspectives on the council and I’ll provide that. It’s important to be creative in solving problems and then trying to find ways to not just pick a winner, but, in the case like this Springfest, where you can make everybody, or almost everybody happy, I think you’re usually able to do that.
Q: Do you think that talking about the age group in that way, does that not contradict your earlier… or your belief that people have fundamentally similar desires and outlooks on life? If that were the argument, would you not… why would it matter if you were younger or if you’re 80 years old because you would have kind of the same things that you would want to see?
A: I think people who are young and who aren’t from here represent a large portion of the university, even if they’re just from an hour away or half an hour away, just not from Grand Forks, they’re more mobile. And they’re going to be more sensitive to quality of life issues. That’s what I’m talking about there is everybody wants a higher quality of life. Everybody wants higher paying jobs. That’s a concern for everybody.
It’s just that people who are younger don’t have roots put down. It’s easier for them to move out and leave Grand Forks. And those issues that are really important because we want to get them to lay down their roots and to be happy with Grand Forks because then they’ll raise children here. We’ll have more people in our schools. That’s a problem, the population is falling. We’ll have a larger tax base. We’ll have more of a community, a diverse community because everybody that comes here to go to the university or to go to the tech (Northland Community and Technical College) isn’t necessarily from Grand Forks. So it’s good to have that injection of diversity.
[Youth retention is a problem, but that wasn't the question. I don't think he even answered the question. I should've pressed him on this contradiction, but I didn't press his opponent on his contradictions so I decided to just let readers judge whether he was ducking and dodging or not.]
Q2: Do you think that moving the city elections to accomodate university schedules would help UND students feel more of a stake in the city?
A: I think that moving elections to November would be a good idea regardless of how it would affect the university — although I think it will affect them more positively — I think more people will go out and vote in November. The last time my ward came in for elections, 690 people voted, and only 100 people that live near the university… and many other sections of the ward have a very low turn out. That’s just… That’s really low. [Actually, 2,010 Ward 2 residents voted in the June 2008 elections and 3,476 voted in November 2008.]
And you get at least 20 or 30 percent of people voting in an off year — when it’s not a presidential election — and then it’s much higher when that does happen. What we saw last… two years ago, we still had over 10,000 people vote for mayor out of a town of over 50,000. It’s not very high. [Actually, 8,723 voted in the mayoral race in 2008. Also, while the estimated population in that time was 50,778, the estimated population that's old enough to vote was only 41,046.]
So if we moved it to November, a lot more people would be voting. And you’d be able to look into all the elected officials, all the people running for offices, all at one time, instead of having to do it in June when people, if they live here, they might be at their lake that week or they have to make some other arrangements that generally they’d have to make in November. Everybody’s used to the first Tuesday in November being Election Day. I think it’ll help everybody and make turnout higher for every population, including people at the university.
[Why does no one consider UND an important enough part of town to make special exceptions for the institution and its people? We're talking about a multi-million dollar budget and the biggest employer in the area. We all fawn over the base because of its economic impact, but take the university for granted and whine about its students. Someone should threaten to move the university every five years like they do the base and then everybody's going to be whistling a different tune.
This isn't aimed at Tyrone in particular, but neither he nor opponent Tim Behm said anything great about UND even though the ward is right next door to the university.]
Q: Going back to the standard questions here: How would you describe your political philosophy? We don’t want to pin any thing on anybody, you don’t have to identify yourself as conservative or liberal or whatever. But, in general, what are your beliefs about services and spending and the role of goverment, and so on and so forth?
A: I think there are limits to what government can do, but where those limits exist… People that are in government, that are elected officials can do a lot to promote coordination within nonprofits or community groups to fill those gaps where where we can improve the quality of life for residents.
Basically, you can’t tax people to death. It’s important to keep taxes at a good way otherwise people just won’t stay here and it’s really easy to move. When property taxes are too high in Grand Forks, they’ll move to East Grand Forks, they’ll move to Fargo, or somewhere else. It’s really easy being mobile when you’re just a city so it’s important to keep your taxes low. [This is just a made up fear. People really are not that mobile. They go where the jobs are. They have friends and relatives. They can't just move to Fargo because they're annoyed with taxes. And East Grand Forks has its own problems with budget shortfalls, which means services aren't going to be as well funded.]
Services are really important. I think you have to do a really good job at trying to perfect everything that you do do. And you have to be thinking about how you can improve the quality of life of citizens. But you have to keep that in check fiscally. [A very bold proposition, this one.]
The same thing that I mentioned at the university. For me, a person that had a hard time paying for college, especially right away when it was hard to get loans that could cover the full cost. It was really frustrating to see that they were overspending on things that were so easy to not overspend on.
Government leaders can do a lot to make quality of life for residents better even without spending government money.
Q: To follow on on that: Do you think taxes in Grand Forks… What do you think of them? Are they high? Low? Too high? About right?
A: Personally, I know what I’m going to pay on the house that Becca and I bought. As far as property taxes… I’ve been paying the sales tax since I moved here whenever I buy things. I think they’re OK. I think it’s important to look at and challenge expenses and if we can lower it we should lower it because that’s more people that are going to want to stay, people have more money to spend. It’s got a good effect on the economy to have lower taxes.
So without having delved into every aspect of every expenditure in the city, I can’t say exactly about spending as far as where we can be, but I think we’re in an OK spot. We’re a little on the high end, I think, even for just this area, but I think that’s where looking really deep into what’s being spent, and not necessarily cutting something, but looking for a cheaper alternative with just as good a quality.
So I think there are a lot of places where we can do that.