City Council Q&A: Rotary member Jordal would help advance gov’tPublished 2:31pm Friday, August 10, 2012
City Council Ward 1 Q&A: Michael Jordal
Q. Why are you best qualified to represent Austin’s 1st Ward?
A. After moving to Austin upon graduating from college, my wife and I quickly got involved in the community through Austin’s Rotaract Club, which is a service organization for young professionals that is sponsored by Rotary. I also joined Mower County Mentoring and have organized other events. The most recent event was a tournament held at the Austin Eagles Club where participants brought in paper towels to donate to the Mower County Humane Society.
As an employee for a small business in Austin, I have a fresh perspective to bring to the council. With government focusing more on using new technology to save money, I think my degree in new media from Briar Cliff University will help me be more qualified and familiar with advances in government.
My wife and I bought a house in Austin and are working on starting a family here, so we are very invested in the future of this community. Growing up in Forest City, Iowa, I started working on a friend’s family farm at a young age. I learned a lot about hard work in these years and am not afraid to take on challenges. Also, growing up with four siblings in the house, I learned a lot about stretching a dollar from my parents who had to make tough household decisions about what we could and couldn’t afford.
Q. Should city officials be more open to hearing public input? If so, what would you do to bring that about?
A. City officials definitely do need to be open to hearing public input. Residents of Austin already have the ability to voice their concerns at the regular council meetings, but during my campaign I have been distributing my email address and have set up a Facebook page to have good communication channels with the constituents of Austin’s 1st Ward. In addition, I have been going door to door meeting with as many of the residents of the 1st Ward as I can and listening to their ideas and concerns. I certainly want to be seen as one of the most reachable candidates for City Council. Even if a council member doesn’t necessarily agree with a resident’s idea or concern, it is important to listen and take it seriously.
Q. What should be the top three priorities for city government?
A. Safety, infrastructure and education.
Q. What steps, if any, can city government take to minimize tax increases?
A. In recent years the city has seen several large capital improvement projects, cuts to LGA, elimination of the homestead market credit and a revaluation of all commercial properties. Some of these things we can control, some we cannot. While there is no magic bullet, going forward each expenditure should be given a hard look and evaluated on whether it is truly a need or more of a want. I think a good question to ask one’s self when deciding on whether to spend taxpayer’s money on a project is how it will affect the large senior population of Austin, whose fixed incomes can cause them to be taxed out of their homes. Also, I don’t want high property taxes to dissuade young families from investing in Austin. When we bought our house, we thought the taxes were very reasonable, but if we were looking at buying it today we would have to seriously consider the affordability of it with its current tax rate.
Q. What other issues do you believe the city of Austin must address, and how would you provide leadership on those issues?
A. The city of Austin has the potential to grow and continue to be a great place to live, and I believe one thing that really contributes to some of this greatness is the spirit of volunteerism. I have seen many projects in this town accomplished first hand through my involvement in the organizations mentioned above. Other projects like Austin’s dog park were brought about by a group of citizens with an idea and the perseverance to see the task done. There are so many great events like the United Way Day of Caring and Relay for Life and so many great volunteers in this town, but even with all of this volunteerism it is still only a percentage of the overall population and I can only imagine how much could be accomplished if even more people got involved. I think the city could do more to promote the various service organizations and possibly do more city wide events that get the various organizations together to work on larger projects like the city wide clean up. With volunteerism, Austin has shown that not every project has to begin and end with taxpayers’ dollars.