PLYMOUTH — Mayoral candidates gave their stances concerning garbage hauling, affordable housing and basic necessities such as water quality and transportation at an Oct. 1 League of Women Voters of Wayzata, Plymouth forum. The Northwest Islamic Community Center hosted the forum.
Jeffry Wosje has been a council member for seven years. He said he would prioritize making neighborhoods safer, keeping debt levels and taxes low and better transportation. Aging housing in Plymouth and redevelopment is going to be a a coming issue for the city to address, he said.
Ali Shater, a former bomb squad officer, said the council’s disbanding of citizens’ advisory groups showed the council wasn’t listening to residents. He wants to see Plymouth have better water quality, embrace community solar and have adequate affordable housing.
Andrey Skotnikov is Founder of New Ag Systems, said his background in engineering would make the city’s processes more efficient. He said the city’s expediency could be improved from the roots up.
With eight garbage haulers working in the city, candidates were asked to elaborate on whether the city should have its own system or reduce the number.
Skotnikov said it’s better for the quality of streets to drop the number of trucks. He supported reducing numbers to just one company in removing garbage.
Shater said the city should keep its current number so quality of service is maintained. Wosje agreed, saying residents appreciate being able to choose their garbage hauler and should have the freedom to choose.
Wosje said with clay in the soil making water hard, the council saw construction alone to re-do the citywide system would be $84 million. As the water already meets standards, he said people have options to improve water at their tap individually.
Skotnikov said water bills can be economized and the different mechanisms that influence water quality — soil moisture sensors, aquifers, irrigation timing — could be looked at.
Shater said the city of St. Cloud treats water with lime, which could be a solution to improve water quality in Plymouth.
Skotnikov said the city could have automated traffic lights with sensors and the city should work with its biggest companies to manage transportation of workers.
Shater said the city will have to find a way to pay for maintaining quality as Hennepin County subsidies stop coming in.
Wosje said the recent investments on several main roads have eased travel. The city’s bus system already has routes downtown, he said.
Housing project Cranberry Ridge
Wosje said the city knows exactly how many affordable housing units are needed — 596 units by 2030 — and he didn’t vote to approve Cranberry Ridge because Plymouth is meeting its needs for affordable housing.
Skotnikov said while the city invests in affordable housing, it should also be investing in education and transportation options for homeless and lower-income, so they can find jobs and become independent.
Shater said when the Human Rights Committee was disbanded, the city took away the outside entity that could determine affordable housing needs.
Disbanding citizen advisory groups, specifically the Human Rights Committee
Shater said disbanding citizen advisory groups sends a message that the city isn’t looking for outside solutions.
Skotnikov said he would be open to the idea of reinstating the advisory group, but is unfamiliar with its function.
Wosje said its a normal part of a city’s history that citizen advisory groups run their course.