Media Coverage

Candidate Forum

If you missed the League of Women Voters' candidate forum, you can view it here:

White Bear Press questionnaire:1

Education: Associate of Applied Science Computer Network Engineering, St. Paul College and Bachelor of Applied Science in Computer Forensics, Metropolitan State University
Occupation: Linux Systems Administrator, currently with the State of Minnesota supporting multiple state agencies, previously with a joint powers board of K-12 school districts and in the private sector with a software development firm.
Civic/volunteer experience: Current chair of Metropolitan Parks and Open Space Commission (and previous district member); Secretary-Treasurer of a neighborhood dock association, and campsite maintainer for Superior Hiking Trail Association. Previously served on the board of directors for Lake Wapogasset Lutheran Bible Camps and Minnesota Parks and Trails Legacy Advisory Committee.
Family: One dog, an Alaskan Malamute named Tuuli. Parents and a younger brother live nearby, and an older sister in Wisconsin.
Contact info: tonyyarusso.org, campaign@tonyyarusso.org, Facebook: fb.com/TonyYarussoMahtomedi

Q: List your top two or three priorities for the city and describe how you would achieve them.

A: First, I would continue to catch up on deferred maintenance. Immediately, most of that will be completion of the Historic District project, after which work will largely be driven by the 2018 “Pavement Condition Index” survey. I would pursue completion of our trail system plan, which currently has several critical missing links that need to be connected, and long-term sustainable funding for our parks and trails, which likely involves a combination of general fund allocations, radio tower leases, and possibly bonding and private philanthropy to replace declining park dedication fees. I would work on improving communication, transparency, and engagement about city operations with our residents, through more complete content about council and commission meetings, public works projects, and community events on the web site along with electronic mailing lists and social media to promptly communicate when content is posted or open houses are scheduled.

Q: What are the most significant challenges you believe the city faces and how would you address them?

A: Deferred maintenance is a huge challenge for the city currently, encompassing streets, utilities, parks, and buildings. I think the current council has put us on a path to address them, but we will need to continue those efforts for likely another 6 to 10 years. While our small town feel is a favorite asset, it can also be a challenge. I will work heavily with the other small communities bordering the city on shared issues, including pedestrian safety, “turnback” of state highways, and water resources including the lake level.

Q: What are some areas you think the city should focus on in regard to its 2040 Comprehensive Plan?

A: The city intends to submit a final proposal of the 2040 Comprehensive Plan for adjacent community and Met Council review before new council members are sworn in, so candidates elected this fall will not be making major changes to it. I am pleased that the plan steering committee has so far focused on water resources, affordable/starter housing, parks and trails, and sustainability. The council then will need to implement that plan, through both funding and potential zoning and environmental ordinance updates. This is a community where people stay a long time and children move back here as adults, so the council needs to constantly reference the long-term plan, not only while updating it.

Q: Why are you the best candidate for the job?

A: I bring useful experience overseeing public funds, responding to input, and navigating complex processes from serving on both government commissions and non-profit boards; a sense of civic responsibility as an Eagle Scout; and a strong understanding of current city issues and concerns from regularly attending city meetings since moving here.

Pioneer Press questionnaire:2

Age: 31

What qualifies you to hold this position?

I bring useful experience overseeing public funds, responding to input, and navigating complex processes from serving on both government commissions and nonprofit boards; a sense of civic responsibility as an Eagle Scout; and a strong understanding of current city issues and concerns from regularly attending city meetings since moving here.

What would your top priorities be if elected?

In current work, I would continue progress to catch up on deferred maintenance of streets, utilities, parks, and buildings. For improvements, I would pursue completion of our trail system plan, long-term sustainable funding for our parks and trails, and improving communication, transparency, and engagement about city operations with our residents.

What do you think is the primary role of government?

To represent constituent interests, government should provide stability, order, and public goods, regulate in the public interest, protect the rights of all people, and hold resources in public trust. That includes economies of scale in infrastructure and education, policing, strategic planning, recreational resources, and environmental protection.

Website or contact: tonyyarusso.org