Sarah Jane Nicoll
Family: I am married to David and we have three daughters: Ava, 7, Grace, 6, and Claire, 5.
I was primarily raised in the St. Cloud area, moving to Sartell in the eighth grade and continuing through graduation from Sartell High School. I attended college at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and moved to Colorado where I lived for five years during my early 20s. I returned to Sartell with my husband in 2005 because I knew it was a great place to raise a family. Currently I am a stay-at-home mom. Previously, I owned and operated the Sarah Jane Nicoll Agency Inc., representing American Family Insurance for 10 years, providing insurance and financial services. I was first elected to the Sartell City Council in 2010. In addition to serving on the council, I serve on the board of directors for Catholic Charities of the St. Cloud Diocese, the supervisory committee for St. Cloud Federal Credit Union and most recently joined the Pinecone Central Park Association board.
Why would you be a good mayor and in which ways would you best represent the city on the council and as a public representative for the city?
I’ve greatly enjoyed serving the city during the past four years. I believe this is a wonderful place to live and I enjoy promoting it in a positive light. While serving on the city council, I feel I have displayed a diplomatic yet decisive approach to conducting the business of the city. I’ve developed relationships with Sartell developers, area leaders, city employees, our local business owners and state legislators from around the region. I’ve had the opportunity to lobby on behalf of the city several times on legislation important to Sartell. Having served on our Economic Development Committee, our Public Works Committee and our Personnel Committee, I’ve gained well-rounded knowledge of all aspects of municipal government, and I strongly consider the potential effects of every decision before voting. Also, as my children reach school age, I’ve the time to commit to being an effective mayor.
There has been much talk and rather unfocused notions about establishing a “Downtown Sartell.” What does that mean and how should it be implemented?
I share in the community’s desire to see a downtown area in Sartell. Ultimately Sartell’s “downtown” will be developed because of private-sector investment. The city’s function is twofold. First, to examine the best way to get infrastructure in place to allow the private sector to strong and vibrant commercial areas. Second, it’s important to be as business-friendly as possible regarding policy and strive to keep our tax rate/fee structure competitive for development.
Through the years, there have been some controversial disagreements of how to spend regional half-cent sales-tax revenues to the city. How can the city devise a framework so every resident knows exactly how and why that revenue will be spent?
The proposed half-cent sales-tax extension voters will have a chance to approve on Nov. calls for 50-percent of the money to be used on transportation, and 50-percent on community amenities. If the referendum passes, there are some important transportation projects I would like to see begin construction as soon as the season will allow. North Pinecone Road traveling out to Oak Ridge Elementary and beyond to 35th needs to be widened and a trail added for the safety of all those traveling the road, especially pedestrians. Pinecone north of 2nd Street has continued to deteriorate, becoming quite bumpy during the winter months and also needs a reconstruct. Regarding community amenities, there are many great ideas about how to use the sales tax. It’s important while considering how to address those desires, we also consider the ongoing budget impact of associated operating costs. The council will ultimately be responsible to the community for how and why those tax dollars get spent, but we need to be cautious in pre-spending dollars not yet collected.
A so-called Sartell Community Center remains a rather vague dream. What should such a center include? Where should it be located? Should it be a new complex or something repurposed from an older building?
A community center is a project that already has funds allocated from the previous approval of sales tax. While this is a priority, it’s important we are comprehensive in our review of the project. What are the capital options, what are other funding sources, how would it be operated and how would we cover those costs? These questions need answers before we can consider where the building will be located and whether it should be new or used. This is a project that should be reviewed by the council in 2015.