Residents made their way out of the cool fall air into the Wayzata Community Room for a forum featuring four candidates for city council Tuesday. Jeff Buchanan, Cathy Iverson, Barry Petit and incumbent Johanna McCarthy are vying for two city council seats. Current city council member, Steve Tyacke, is not running for reelection.
Tuesday’s event was hosted by the League of Women Voters Wayzata Plymouth Area and the Greater Wayzata Area Chamber of Commerce. The forum was moderated by Deb Brinkman of the League of Women Voters.
Each candidate had a two-minute introductory statement. A series of 10 questions was asked of each candidate. A final two-minute closing statement was allotted each candidate.
As the sun set and the last rays showered the candidates seated on the east wall of the community room and the murmur of the more than 50 people in attendance faded, the forum began.
During his opening statement, Buchanan stated he has been a resident of Wayzata for 18 years. Buchanan discussed how he started a business in 1986.
“During my career there were two guiding lights. Do the right thing and It’s not about me, it’s about you,” said Buchanan. “I sold my firm and I’ve been looking for ways to give back to the community.”
Iverson positioned herself as a wife, mom and neighbor. Iverson shared that she had been on the Wayzata Planning Commission for seven years and that she has an interior design business. She said she wants the residents of Wayzata to have a say in the future of the city.
“The thing I kept hearing over and over again is ‘my voice doesn’t matter’,” said Iverson.
“I’m ready to take the next step, I’m ready to get more involved.” She told those in attendance that she continues to hear from the community that, “my voice doesn’t matter.”
McCarthy, opened by stating she has been a resident of Wayzata for 20 years. She stressed safety as a concern and said she is focused on preserving the city and balancing development.
“My focus is on preserving Wayzata’s small town feel and charm, balancing development with the needs of our residents and neighborhoods, maintaining our financial strength and low tax rate and protecting our neighborhoods while supporting our commercial core,” said McCarthy.
Petit painted a picture of Wayzata and asked the participants to think about how Wayzata will look in the future. He stated that Lake Street does not look anything like it did in the past.
“I bring experience to the council that can truly engage in the conversation about our visual future,” said Petit. “In essence, developers currently own Wayzata’s aesthetic future.”
Brinkman first asked the candidates what policies they stand for.
Petit said the city needs to define what the city’s design wants to be.
McCarthy stated that the city has strong policies, but the enforcement of those policies needs to be better enforced. “There’s more work to be done,” said McCarthy.
Buchanan said that the city is currently well run but that it needs to modernize its design standards.
Meanwhile, Iverson said the city needs to review the ordinances and needs a long-term vision.
She said she has concerns about the density of the city.
When asked about the challenges Wayzata faces, affordability was a topic of discussion.
Iverson said there isn’t enough affordable housing while Buchanan said that 42 percent of the housing stock is considered affordable by state standards.
Petit said that Wayzata is an attractive community and with that comes a “powerful force for development.” McCarthy also discussed the pressures of development.
The candidates appeared to agree that TIF (tax increment financing) was a good option for funding proposed development.
Iverson said that transparency of the city council is an issue.
Later in the forum, Brinkman asked the candidates how they will be in touch with residents’ needs.
McCarthy said she prides her ability to respond to citizens’ needs and concerns.
Petit said while considering disputes, residents need someone in city council who will make tough decisions.
Buchanan said it is important to be out in the community and that it is paramount to respond to residents.
Iverson said she is concerned people in Wayzata are not attending public meetings anymore. “Let’s get this room full again,” said Iverson.
During closing remarks, Petit pointed to his design work on the Village Shops strip mall and that he challenged the redesign of the Depot Park proposed by the Lake Effect architects.
“My critique opened the council’s eyes to the severity of the design and they are now committed to preserving and expanding the green lawn.”
McCarthy pledged to continue to be available and to listen to Wayzata residents.
“Together, our local businesses and our diverse neighborhoods make Wayzata the special community that it is,” said McCarthy. “Wayzata is not a community of buildings, it is a community of people.”
Iverson closed by saying the city council needs diversity and transparency.
“I’ll work very hard to make sure that the responsiveness from the city council to the community is there,” said Iverson. “I don’t want hear people say anymore ‘my voice doesn’t matter.’ It does matter. Let’s fill this room again.”
Buchanan pointed to his work on the Wayzata 2040 Vision Statement and Comprehensive Plan and said the plan offers a way forward for the community.
“We must keep Wayzata charming, keep Wayzata healthy, make Wayzata sustainable,” said Buchanan. “If elected, my promise to you is this: I will listen to your concerns and I will represent all of Wayzata.”
And that’s how the forum closed. The candidates shook hands and later mingled with the audience. The forum offered the residents who attended the event and those watching online and on television a chance to find out more about the candidates.
Voters will decide which two of the four candidates will represent Wayzata on Nov. 6. The winning candidates will serve two-year terms.