Grand Forks mayoral candidate: Tyrone Grandstrand
Note to readers: The answers to survey questions below have not been edited in anyway. They were provided as is by the candidates. Name: Tyrone Grandstrand Occupation: Clinical lab assistant, Northland Community and Technical College Age: 26 Fami...
Note to readers: The answers to survey questions below have not been edited in anyway. They were provided as is by the candidates.
Name: Tyrone Grandstrand
Occupation: Clinical lab assistant, Northland Community and Technical College
Family: Married to Becca Grandstrand; two dogs, Baylee and Moo; extended family located across the region in Grand Forks, Fargo, Karlstad, Minn., and Warroad, Minn.
Leadership experience: My most significant experience as a leader was organizing over 3,000 students to help fight the floods in 2009 in Fargo and around the region. With only a few days lead time; we were able to assist the flood fight, contributing over 12,000 hours of hard work over the course of a single week. In addition, my leadership experience also includes: Grand Forks City Council, Grand Forks Community Land Trust Board, Community Land Trust Finance Task Force Chairman, Service and Safety Committee, Grand Forks-East Grand Forks Metropolitan Planning Organization, Insurance and Pension Committee, Dog Park Committee, McNair Scholar, North Dakota Special Olympics "Dancing for Special Stars" Volunteer, North Dakota Student Association Delegate, Association of Resident Halls president, two-term UND Student Body President, Grand Forks Legislative Committee, and Retail Taskforce. I also instructed a mid-level honors course at UND, negotiated and maintained contracts worth over half a million dollars, and was president of an organization, overseeing a budget of over $500,000.
What is something voters should know about you?
I believe in bringing together the best people and allowing them to work. Micromanagement is a mistake; it stifles talented individuals and does not bring significant benefits. However, I also believe it is important to have a set mission, a plan that is supported by the community, by research, and by experience. A well-constructed strategic plan will include ambitious yet attainable goals for both the long and short terms. This plan will be an important tool for improving efficiency and affording accountability, by providing a means of measuring success. We can use our success as a foundation for improving beyond what we think is possible today. That is leadership and that is what I am offering as Mayor of Grand Forks.
What is the most important issue facing the mayor?
Being available for everyone.
The Grand Forks City website says, "...the mayor is the focal point for citizen suggestions, recommendations and concerns." I believe to adequately serve in this capacity we need a full-time mayor that is willing to take everyone's concerns seriously. Even the smallest concerns from residents are the most important concerns to them.
We can go further by formalizing this and getting feedback from residents that do not typically approach city officials. I believe that we need to be asking three basic questions of everyone in Grand Forks: "What do you love about Grand Forks?" "How can we make Grand Forks even better?" and "How can we be more efficient?"
If we are not asking these questions on a regular basis, we are operating on the implicit assumption that politicians and those connected to them have all the necessary answers, ideas and energy to bring Grand Forks to its true potential. Clearly this is not the case - at any level of government or in any organization. However, right now we are not asking these questions, and getting an appointment with the mayor is difficult. We need to change this to help Grand Forks reach the potential we all know it has.
My administration will ask these questions regularly and we will operate on the basis that only the community, not a small subset, knows what is best for the community.
What should the city do to support job creation and business expansion?
We need to support the efforts of those at the Economic Development Corporation, Small Business Administration, and the Center for Innovation by removing the hurdles to growth like our shortage of housing, high childcare costs, and, perhaps most importantly, repairing our infrastructure, including Columbia Road, 32nd Avenue, and many of the smaller streets throughout the city.
In order to do this, we need to put together a clear and long-term strategic plan with goals that are well supported by the community, by research, and by experience. This will help us track progress, improve our efficiency, as well as help the community to hold leaders accountable to their expectations.
Where can the city save money in its budget?
In 1981, the city and county combined their Health Departments. Today, we see a department that combines quality, efficiency, and a savings of approximately $250,000 per year. Finding ways to partner on more government activities with other entities is a great way to improve efficiency and save money. In Grand Forks alone, we have at least eight potential partners, several in East Grand Forks, and many more across the region. Replicating the success of the combined health department is an achievable goal that will significantly improve efficiency. Efficiency is a goal that must be part of our city's mission, and, because of its widespread support, it will be under my administration.
What city services can be improved?
The sorry state of Columbia Road and other transportation routes throughout Grand Forks is not excusable, especially considering how long they have needed attention. The residents I have visited with have made it clear that taking care of what we have needs to be a central part of our city's mission. They want government to take care of the basic things first. We can efficiently take care of our infrastructure and other basic needs by putting together a clear strategic plan that provides for regular maintenance and upgrades to our existing infrastructure.