Name: Matt Killam
Family: Wife, Michelle. Children: Mason, 5, kindergarten Kennedy Elementary School; Jake, 3; Devon, 1.
Employment: Coborn’s, loss-control analyst.
Please share your background and previous political experience:
I was raised and educated in Minnesota, obtaining degrees from Minnesota State University and the Minnesota School of Business. I have experience on a variety of boards, committees and in leadership roles. Through that experience, I have become a good listener, consensus builder and have learned working together is the only way to accomplish what needs to be done.
Although I may be a newcomer to city politics, I’ve always carried the closely held belief of serving the community that I am a part of. This is a value of service and education which was instilled deeply in me by my parents. St. Joseph is where my wife and I have chosen to live, work and raise our family. No matter the election results, I am determined to serve this great community for the benefit of all citizens and the future generation.
What is the city’s biggest issue?
Based on my discussions with members of the community, encouraging economic prosperity is a primary goal for St. Joseph. While that may sound basic, it is essential to the future well-being of the city. How to accomplish this and the role of the city council in doing so is a much more complex question.
How do you propose to address this issue?
The City of St. Joseph has many great assets in which to utilize to continue to thrive. Our families, local businesses, small-town traditions and the vibrant collegiate institution of St. John’s and St. Ben’s play a huge role in our community. We must find a way to balance these elements. Housing codes, maintaining business growth and keeping our small-town charm are all crucial issues to potential and existing residents.
Let us re-valuate the process of residential housing. Determine compromises that make sense for both sides. Then make sure to maintain rules and regulations. If required, more complex cases could be brought to the board for review. Evaluate businesses by a plot-by-plot basis, making sure the business would fit well with the community. Incorporate the decision-making process in city hall meetings. Make smart, common-sense decisions that make the most sense for everyone in the community, not just for the one person or the one business.
We need to focus on making it a priority to maintain the parks, softball fields, bike trails and frisbee golf courses. These parks and attractions make our city unique, and I intend to keep it that way.
With plans to build a new government center, what would you like to see incorporated into the building?
Like many residents in St Joseph, I believe a government center makes sense, but the total cost needs to be evaluated. I like to see my hard-earned money in my wallet. That is why I think it is crucial to approach the issue by being informed. However, the city’s growth has increased the need for a new government center. The city of Sauk Rapids has just finished building a new government center. I spoke with Ross Olson, the city administrator for Sauk Rapids. Ross stated, “The most important part of building a government center is making it part of your long-term goals.” Keeping that in mind, I would try to incorporate a police station, city offices and community center all under one roof.
I believe in the essential functions of every department in the government center, but constant evaluation is needed. We need to be honest about our potential growth opportunities. The development of the city hall should not be based on just size and dollars but be measured with its effectiveness and efficiency. If elected I would make sure that development stays on track by making informed decisions that take in to consideration all citizens.
What suggestions do you have to improve the city’s downtown landscape and economic development appeal?
Improving the city’s landscape and economic appeal can be a double-edge sword. This is because in one hand you want a booming business district downtown, but at the same time you want to keep the city’s charm and atmosphere. I believe each new business should be evaluated to determine if it should be located downtown or on a larger road such as Highway 75. Main Street can get rather busy and oversaturation could lead to traffic, parking issues and car accidents. Economic growth is welcome but should never come before making sure it’s the right choice for the citizens in this community.
I would maintain the appeal of the downtown landscape with programs such as the flower-pot program. Also, incorporating a new city sign would be inviting to the wide array of people that enter our town. Using a digital sign appears to be a great option. The city could sell advertising on the sign to local businesses to help pay for the cost. This is just one possible option of a creative funding solution that benefits all stakeholders.