Both new to candidate debates, Ned Carroll and Jeff Wosje answered questions from the public at a candidate forum put on by the Plymouth/Wayzata League of Women Voters Oct. 2 at City Hall.
The two men are vying for the Ward 2 seat on the Plymouth City Council. Ward 2 represents the southwest area of Plymouth.
The forum was also supposed to include a Q & A session for incumbent Jim Willis and newcomer Dan Waltenberg vying for the at-large council seat, but Waltenberg did not show up.
After brief introductions of Wosje and Carroll, the two were given about 13 questions in less than an hour to answer with each getting the same amount of time to answer the same questions alternating between who would answer first for each question.
Questions submitted by the public in attendance included: what issues the two would address for the Ward 2 neighborhoods; how they'd improve transit and transportation in Plymouth; how to best protect and/or help small businesses in Plymouth; how are they each qualified to be on the council; how to address the city's biggest issues and what are those; how to continue to work on adding lanes to Interstate 494 and work on improving highways in Plymouth.
Carroll talked about the need to maintain and continue to keep the neighborhoods safe in the city and Ward 2. He knows people are concerned with keeping traffic at a safe and tolerable level, especially along Gleason Lake Parkway.
"As I've door knocked I have been greatly impressed by the neighborhoods and what a wonderful community we have," he said. "Everyone seems to take pride in maintaining the area.
Wosje echoed sentiments about the neighborhoods and one thing residents had pointed out to him was street conditions mentioning Xanthus and Niagara as spots to be cognizant about. He also said parks are important to maintain.
"We must take care of streets and keep them in good condition," Wosje said. "The city's mill and overlay process is much less expensive for residents.
As far as roadwork needed in Plymouth overall, the two candidates answered the question on work needed on major highways including 494.
"The city has lobbied for a third lane for 494 and a MnDOT is doing a study now that will be done next year as well as seeing the viability in creating a MnPass lane and high congestion relief lanes," he said. "When the study is done we will continue to push to get that third lane. This is a critical issue for businesses and for those traveling in and out of Plymouth, especially residents having to go north in afternoon rush hour."
Carroll said the city must continue to have good relationships with the forms of government that are involved in the process of improving 494 and other major highways in Plymouth.
"I work in the Hennepin County Attorney's office and I would work actively with the County Board and other levels of government in finding a way for this work," Carroll said. "We can leverage those relationships to help bring solutions."
Another question asked was how either candidate, if elected, would help protect main street and small businesses with more "big box" store development possibly coming to town.
Wosje referenced the public meeting called by Walmart Thursday, Oct. 10, at the Four Season Mall as the company owns the property that the nearly empty mall sits on. Many residents have voiced concerns and questions over the possibility of Walmart building there, but nothing has been proposed or submitted for building to the city.
"There is a need and value to what small business provides our city," Wosje said. "I am a big believer in free market, but that doesn’t mean I support Walmart. I have not seen plan and I look forward to being part of conversation and listening to concerns residents and small businesses have."
Carroll said the city may not be able to directly do any one thing for businesses, but it can provide a good infrastructure and a safe community to help the business community grow.
Wondering about more questions answered by the candidates? The forum was videotaped and will be replayed on Northwest Community Cable Channel 12 on the following dates and times: 8:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. Monday, Oct. 8; 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 13, and 11:30 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 14.
Share your thoughts and comments or any questions you have for the candidates in the comment section below!