• 12Oct

    Thank you to the editorial board of the Rochester Post Bulletin for honoring our campaign with this endorsement!

    “It’s hard to imagine what Rochester would be today without him as the council’s Ward 2 representative. He pushed to create the city’s ethics board, advocated for safer bike and pedestrian options and helped lead a six-year push toward the comprehensive plan.”

    Rochester Post Bulletin endorses Michael Wojcik in 2016!

    While I am honored to receive this endorsement I am more honored to have the support of almost every long time neighborhood leader I work with!

    #integrity

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  • 10Oct

    Please accept our thanks for agreeing to participate on the 13th. We are so happy you will be coming to share about community issues important to us.

    Location: Christ United Methodist Church, 400 5th Av SW, Rochester

    Please come to the Welcome Table.

    Candidates from Wards 2,4,6 will be from 7 to 8 p.m.
    Candidates Staver and Allen will be from 8 to 9 p.m.

    As mentioned, we are sharing the questions as listed below. There will be an opportunity to answer questions submitted by the audience after the 7 questions below are presented.

    Affordable Housing:

    Considering the massive crisis that we face in the availability of affordable housing for households with income below $55,000 per year, what do you think is the responsibility of City government to help create affordable housing and what specific measures do you think the City could take now to facilitate the development of affordable housing?

    Education:

    We recognize that you are running for City Council, not the School Board. However, given the importance of our children’s education, we are asking this question:
    What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Rochester related to the education of our youth, and what, in your role as a City Council member, are the factors you will consider to address this?

    Living Wage:

    Do you support tying a Living Wage to any business seeking public funding from the city?

    Historic Preservation:

    What do you think would be the appropriate response by the city council regarding the current situation with the Kutzky House?

    Social Services:

    How are you going to get input from the working poor of Rochester on an ongoing basis? Will you include housing, transportation and living wages in your conversations?

    Sustainability:

    “The workforce we want is attracted by sustainability. Our Mayor has made a proclamation that Rochester will be powered by 100% renewable energy by 2031. And the one formal city initiative on energy sustainability is our Climate Smart Municipalities partnership with German cities. What are three ways you would lead the city council to capitalize on our German partnership to create a more attractive and sustainable city?”

    Transportation:

    Plans for the DMC and the City Comprehensive plan call for a significant shift away from people driving alone into Rochester for work and other trips. Much of the public investment in the DMC revolves around improvements to public transit, especially buses. Biking and pedestrian route upgrades are also included, and demand for them is growing. However, we’ve also seen a recent uptick in crashes involving people walking or biking. Recent figures show that 2016 is on par to be the deadliest year for pedestrians in Minnesota as a whole, and this is especially true in Rochester. Two of the seven bicycle related deaths were in Rochester. What are your priorities on making it easier for people to drive less so we can meet these goals and to do so safely?

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  • 22Sep

    Since the vote I have been contacted by 15 people in the Folwell neighborhood 7 in agreement with the decision, and 8 against. Only a couple people making personal attacks, but still disappointing. That kind of division lets me know this needs some more discussion. I would be lying if I said that every concern has been addressed, they haven’t. However infill projects seldom are perfect solutions. Community and neighborhood benefits and impacts certainly fall short of perfection, however I see them as being greater than both the status quo and other development in the area. In addition the project has the support of 3 neighborhood association presidents, Imagine Kutzky, CUDE, County Planning, City Engineering, and several (but admittedly a minority of) neighbors living in the neighborhood.

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    Final Decision:

    Approvals are (or should) always be based on whether evidence indicates the development meets the criteria for approval. Not everything was black & white but clearly the evidence in this case convinced the city council, staff, and long time neighborhood leaders that this project met all requirements. Read more…

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  • 02Sep

    Chamber Q&A

    1: What do you see as the biggest challenge currently facing our community? What specific actions would you take or what policies would you put in place to address that challenge?

    Infrastructure – Growth in city infrastructure has exceeded our ability to pay for it. We are nearing the size of Minneapolis with less that 1/3 of the population. This is resulting in upward pressures in funding, largely hitting small businesses. We now see an unfunded liability of $1.4 billion and growing. Without action this will inhibit the ability fund all other services including public safety, parks, and the library.

    Solutions: Read more…

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  • 05Mar

    I am excited to take 2 continuing education course prior to the Nation League of Cities in Washington DC. Today I am in a full day course on Urban Planning (on of my passions). This program is being put on

    I hope to bring this course to Rochester in conjunction with the comprehensive plan update.

    ULI Urban Plan

    Rose Center for Public Leadership

    Tomorrow I am in a half day course on building a creative city. Here are some materials I was sent to study in advance of that session. If you are interested in how you build a thriving creative city, you might enjoy reading these materials:

    The Real Source of America’s Urban Revival

    The Winners & Losers of Economic Clustering – Richard Florida

    The Future of the American City – Financial Times

    Cities must be Cool, Creative, and in Control – Michael Bloomberg

    Creative Talent – The Guardian

    Back to the City – Harvard Business Review

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  • 19Feb

    Edit: I noticed website traffic is through the roof today. Just a friendly reminder that if you a appreciate a strong protector of public money please consider a campaign contribution. 2016 campaign limit is $600 per person, most people donate between $25 and $100, $100 or less is anonymous: donate here

    Upon some reflection this evening here are my thoughts on this doomed project.

    Bottom line: I am disappointed, but integrity and fiscal responsibility will always be more important to me than any on project. I think the public will be excited to see some of the other projects being proposed in this area.

    I suspect the site will not be quiet long with the clock ticking on the alley vacation.

    So the Holiday Inn is now dead and I am left shaking my head over what could have been. A series of issues that could have been addressed early on, seemed to keep coming back and plaguing the project. I haven’t been able to say much about the project previously because we were in a quasi-judicial capacity. Now that I am no longer in that capacity I will say that I suspect the project would have passed the council with minor changes at most and a 7-0 vote. In the latest iteration the project was probably the nicest large non-Mayo project the city would have had in that area. The real death of this project came by way of the heavy public subsidies that they were asking for. The first time I saw the project, I thought the biggest potential objections had already been addressed.

    There were a number of things that conspired to cause problems and for once I have to say that the city council was not one of them. In fact, Randy Staver, who I have certainly had some issues with this week, accepted my invitation and sat with the developer and neighbors in an attempt to work out some issues. Multiple times… And we did for the most part…

    Here are some of the issues the project ran into:

    • A lack of planning (zoning) – The incentive development process, poor underlying zoning, and the continued inability to produce a 21st century zoning code that actually works in urban areas. No excuses for this. I have been asking for a zoning code refresh for 8 years, and continue to. We have a good 2nd street plan with no way to implement it. While we are updating the comprehensive plan, staff has talked the council out of acting on zoning until the plan is done. I feel that current zoning is so bad for both neighbors and developers that I wanted to override staff’s recommendation and do it any way, but I was on the losing end of that vote.
    • A lack of planning (infrastructure) – We don’t have a good plan for 2nd street Phase IV yet. Further staff still can’t answer the question of what the most efficient and cost effective tunnel system would look like in that area. It is really hard to design around infrastructure when you don’t know what it will be. It is also hard to justify public subsidies without a plan for public benefit.
    • Poor Communication – Staff really did little to engage vested parties, I personally felt left out of their loop and actually had to point out numerous errors in interpreting the 2nd street plan. It appeared to me that there was more of an attempt to contort to the development than make the development fit a vision. In fact, I was surprised to learn that the city administrator was willing to double TIF, because he never told the council.
    • High land acquisition costs – I think that the price the developer was paying for the land made it uneconomical, as such they were looking for a ton of public assistance which was hard to justify.
    • Lack of public benefit to justify high subsidies – There would be some benefit from having true public parking, perhaps some from ROW setbacks and streetscape, maybe some from a tunnel, but not enough to justify what they needed to make the project viable. I saw this and DMC also saw this. While the neighborhood had delivered a letter of support, they pulled it after seeing the size of the requested subsidies, with those types of public subsidies they felt like the public should get more.
    • The Holiday Inn brand – I don’t think it is fair to judge the quality of the hotel by the brand name, but the public was not excited about that brand, I suspect neither was Mayo. This might have been the nicest Holiday Inn in the country. The public certainly didn’t want any tax dollars to go into a “Holiday Inn.” I personally think you need to separate a brand reputation and the hotel, but I think that was out there.
    • Larry Brutger – I like Larry, but frankly many neighbors did not. In talking with Larry, I thought he was congenial and pragmatic. However much of his experience was in more suburban developments, this was a very urban development. To his credit he hired a tremendous architect out of the cities which was very capable. I think the issue was he got some terrible advice, rather than working through some issues, he was told to submit plans ASAP. This made many in the neighborhood furious, which was too bad since some issues were minor. The neighborhood fought for many things that were important to them like a neighborhood friendly 1st street and raised numerous issues at the planning level. Further because of the submittal, Larry was limited on changes he could do from that point on.
    • City staff perception by the neighborhood – With all the issues many neighbors came together to have a visioning event at Forager Brewing. Not only to talk about this project, but really the greater area. Perhaps a couple hundred people showed up, including a majority of the council and most DMC staff. However not a single person from city administration, county planning, or public works showed up at this well attended event.

    From the start this project was asking for a ton from the community by way of incentive, variances, and subsidies. In the end it just didn’t look like they were going to get the subsidy then needed.

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  • 28Dec

    As 2015 comes to an end please consider supporting my 2016 campaign for Rochester City Council Ward 2.

    Go to votewojcik.org and click in the upper Right Hand Corner “Donate Now”

    OR Send a check to:

    Wojcik for Rochester

    984 Fox Knoll Dr. SW

    Rochester, MN 55902

    2015 campaign limits:

    • $250 per person
    • $100 per person – Anonymous in reporting

    2016 campaign limits

    • $600 per person
    • $100 per person – Anonymous in reporting

    Who is Michael Wojcik:

    • Husband, Father of 2 daughters, Host for foreign exchange student
    • Small business owner providing financial services to churches & nonprofits
    • Extensive education including Masters of Electrical Engineering & MBA from the University of Minnesota, CFA Level III Exam
    • Continuing education in Finance, Technology, Community & Economic Development, and Local Government
    • Areas of expertise include: Government Finance, Public Utilities, Energy, Environment, Transportation, Community Development, and Public Arts
    • National roles: National Chair, NLC Community & Economic Development Board, NLC Board of Directors, ULI Healthy Corridors National Task Force.
    • Rochester resident since 1999
    • Enjoys: Travel, Backpacking, Biking, Soccer, Arts, Craft Beer

    Why we are starting our campaign now:

    • Be prepared, build new website (pretty much untouched in 3 years), prepare new campaign materials
    • 2012 experience of opponent violating campaign finance law – initiating significant campaign spending without filing finance report
    • 2012 experience of opponent using solar panel litigation against my family (we eventually won this frivolous lawsuit)
    • Focus on personal conversations during busy campaign season

    What we have been able to do since 2008:

    • Historically low crime rates in Rochester: (Personally involved is shutting down human trafficking operation on 2nd street SW despite threats from a local attorney)
    • Minnesota’s first Complete Streets policy requiring staff to consider needs of all road users
    • Booming economy with low unemployment and high job growth
    • Improved safety for all road users including bicyclists and pedestrians
    • Stronger neighborhood associations with the ability to influence policy
    • Reinvestment in the Uptown district
    • Development of Cascade Lake park
    • Fix environmental degradation of drainage ways
    • Implemented independant “Ethical Practices Board”
    • Initiated revision of 40 year old comprehensive plan
    • Removed local barriers for craft brewing industry

    What we continue to work on and hope to achieve going forward

    • A financially, socially, and environmentally sustainable Rochester
    • Significantly enhanced high quality affordable housing development
    • Improved public transportation hours and effectiveness, serve needs of nonprofits & schools
    • Municipal broadband offering world class connections at affordable prices for families and businesses
    • A world class St. Marys Place that is inviting and safe for pedestrians, transit, local businesses, and neighborhoods
    • Invest in Public Library space to meed surging community demand
    • Continued reinvestment in downtown Rochester

    First of all many of you reading this have lent me support for years and I want to once again say thank you. In 2016, I will once again file to run for the Rochester City Council, Ward 2. As I have stated for years, I do not enjoy the position, but I find it to be both critically important and rewarding. There will come a time where I will choose to step aside and let younger talent take my place

     

     

  • 23Jun

    OK, so here are some development commandments, please give me suggestions to make this better.

    Violate these and expect fire and brimstone from me…

    1. Thou shall not make unto thee any redesigned image – I don’t care about the economics or whatever loophole you found, never ever degrade a project after approval.
    2. Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor(hood) – I can forgive just about any action and have, but lying to the city council is lying to the entire community.
    3. Thou shall not steal from the community – development must create revenues that fund the full cost of services and capital needs created by said development – or offer a significant public benefit to justify the ongoing subsidy.
    4. Thou shall create attractive human scale facades whenever facing prominent streets or neighbors.
    5. Thou shall no other gods before me (especially parking spots) – take only what is needed in a typical circumstance and hide the ugliness.
    6. Honor thy Mother (Earth) & neighbors – address stormwater, sewer, energy consumption, climate change, and multi-modal transportation access on site. Engage and take difference to establish neighborhood preferences.
    7. With great density comes great expectations – Use density as a tool to create a better design.
    8. Thou shall not murder (the streetscape) – Architecture is your friend, seriously. Blank walls are a reflection of your blank soul.
    9. Remember the future, to keep it wholly viable – your development should be mixed use, mixed income, walkable and not automobile dependent.
    10. Thou shalt not take the intent of the planning process in vain – Rochester’s Comprehensive Plan and Zoning are bad, I get that, but it is slowly getting better. Stop using it as an crutch to push through crap.

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  • 15Apr

    Here are 2 opportunities to shape the future of Rochester!

    1)      On April 22nd, the Rochester-Olmsted Council of Governments (ROCOG) will be hosting an Open Housing on the Reaffirmation of the ROCOG Long Range Transportation Plan from 5:30 to 7:30 in Conference Room A/B of the Rochester Olmsted Planning Department at 2112 Campus Drive SE.

    2)      On May 6 and 7, the City will be hosting a series of several comprehensive plan update and public input meetings. The meeting agenda will be identical for each of these meetings, allowing multiple opportunities for the public to attend and provide input.  Below is a schedule of meetings for May 6 and 7.  Please plan on attending one of these that fits into your schedule.

    ·         May 6            6:30 pm                Olmsted County Public Health Conference Room (2100 Campus Drive SE)

    ·         May 7            3:00 pm                County/City Council Chambers (Government Center)

    ·         May 7            6:30 pm                County/City Council Chambers (Government Center)

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  • 27Jan

    For too long the city of Rochester has been reactive to development instead of being proactive.  I proposed 3 zoning changes, two are now in progress and the third is pending.

    1) Protect the integrity of the Kutzky Park Neighborhood. For nearly a decade the neighborhood has led on zoning to better reflect their neighborhood. We will now weigh whether to apply that CN-NR zoning to the residential areas in yellow.

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    2) Revitalize, enhance, and protect our investments in the Uptown Neighborhood mixed use district. We spent millions of dollars in trying to revitalize this area. It is now far more pedestrian friendly. The B2 zoning allows for a mix of uses and higher density when done in a pedestrian and neighborhood friendly manner.

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    3) Take steps to minimize the cost of building the DMC public infrastructure. I carefully reviewed DMC Plan in an effort the keep new development from preventing key pieces of public infrastructure from being built. I suspect my work will result in an official map with will save future dollars.

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    This is just the beginning. Eventually I seek to protect neighborhoods I represent including Kutzky Park, Folwell, Historic SW, Parkway, and Uptown as historic, mixed use, mixed income quality neighborhoods. We will complete the Comprehensive Plan this fall and I hope to rewrite and reapply all going districts there after.

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