I would like to thank the Rochester Post Bulletin for their STRONG endorsement! And yes, I do my homework and always come prepared. I owe that to the people I represent. No decision makes everyone happy, but at least if you understand the facts most people will respect your hard work and intelligence. In short, if you think I care more about making responsible decisions than being popular with the Good-‘Ol-Boys you would be correct!
If reelected I will continue to be a champion for a great city!
We endorsed Wojcik four years ago, and we took plenty of heat for that decision. But today, we’re more convinced than ever that we made the right call, and we’re making it again: We endorse Michael Wojcik for another term representing Ward 2 on the Rochester City Council.
Wojcik didn’t have a single bad thing to say about Pruett during our interview with him — didn’t mention Pruett at all, actually. Instead, he started by saying something very original, something we haven’t heard from any of the 40-odd candidates we’ve interviewed so far. “I think people are pretty happy with the city,” he told us. “They have a generally positive opinion of city government.”
Then Wojcik did what he does best: He debunked popular misconceptions and cut to the heart of complex issues.
Take, for example, who is to blame for rising property taxes. “In real per capita terms, the city is spending 20 percent less than we did a decade ago, yet we’ve seen substantial increases in our property tax rates,” he told us. “People like to talk about wasteful government spending, but these tax increases are beyond the control of the city. The state never lived up to the promises it made back in 2003, when it enacted the Local Government Aid plan. That, and the $90 million that the state takes away from us every year that we don’t get back, has made a real impact on how we do business in Rochester.”
Then he brushed aside much of the ongoing debate about historic preservation, saying the preservation committee is wasting time “trying to make everyone happy,” while the plan advocated by the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce is “so watered down and weak that it would be a complete joke.”
He predicted that city staff will find the middle ground, and pointed out that a preservation ordinance — contrary to what a lot of people believe — wouldn’t be the primary factor in determining what happens to a historic building. “The ordinance sets up a process. It doesn’t set up the answer or the final outcome,” he said. “A historic property that’s in a terrible state of repair might still be torn down, and that would be an acceptable outcome.”
He also has pragmatic side, which was in full view when he discussed concerns about Rochester’s downtown nightlife and the problems it might for people who live nearby. “If you want a quiet place to retire and live, maybe downtown in the third-largest city in Minnesota isn’t the place you should be looking,” he told us. “We’re never going to be a quiet downtown again, and we shouldn’t want to be.”
Ultimately, however, we’re endorsing Wojcik because we believe he makes everyone else “elevate their game” — including developers, city staffers and other members of the council. Whether you like Wojcik or not, no one can deny that he does his homework. Give him half an hour and he’ll take you on a whirlwind tour of the city budget, to the point that you’ll want to cry “Uncle!” There’s something to be said for having a council member who loves numbers, and Wojcik fits that description.
But there’s much more to Wojcik. He’s passionate about smart growth, green space, energy efficiency and non-motorized transportation. Yes, he’s a tree-hugger, but he’s the type who fights for a tree-planting ordinance, then gets covered head-to-toe in mud when it’s time to actually put them in the ground.
We think he’s matured considerably since his first days in office, but his willingness go against the tide and ask tough questions is still there, and that’s not a bad thing. We’re convinced that a city of 100,000-plus people can benefit from a leader who doesn’t define “progress” in terms of commercial square footage, parking spaces, building permits and assessed property values.
That’s Michael Wojcik.