The Ramsey Conservation District (RCD) is commonly called the water board. The board protects the quality of lakes and drinking water from storm runoff. Controlling water runoff also conserves our good top soil. The board encourages people to have rain gardens that trap rain and redirect back into building back up our water table. Since water is our most critical resource, the people who serve on this board are unnoticed heroes.
Carrie Wasley is running for re-election. She received the Public Service Award from Friends of the Parks and Trails of St. Paul and Ramsey County! Here are her answers to our standard questions:
1) What is your background? How does this background make you the better choice for the office you are running for?
I have done extensive non-profit and government board work and work well with others on an individual board’s agenda. The Ramsey Conservation District (RCD) Board of Supervisors have established a team approach to our responsibilities. Over the last four years we have regained financial stability and we are now recognized as a knowledgeable and effective county asset. The RCD staff are dedicated technicians and policy experts. Together the Supervisors and staff work well back and forth on critical issues.
2) What are the three main issues or values that are key to your campaign?
The three main values or issues that are key to my campaign are accessibility, teamwork and energy.
Accessibility – The mission statement of the RCD is to be the bridge between conservation agencies and Ramsey County citizens and local governments to sustain our natural resources through partnerships, technical services and education. It is inherent for the RCD’s purpose to be accessible.
Teamwork – It is critically important that citizens and other conservation staff people feel that they are treated with respect, without doubletalk and effectively. This has not always been the case with the RCD but starting about four years ago the Supervisors decided to think first about the citizens and what we were trying to give them in education and effective programs instead of obfuscation and condescension. The past four years have seen a turn-around in teamwork and outreach into the community.
Energy – Each year the RCD grows larger and larger with dedicated staff promulgated on successful grant funding. This is because there is an energy both technically but also in interacting with professional people across the county. This energy is a critical factor in the success of the RCD over the past four years.
3) Who is your political hero and what qualities would you strive to emulate?
My political hero is Winston Churchill. This isn’t wartime so I don’t know how much this applies but I admired his ability to never give up. The RCD has turned itself around because the Supervisors decided that the RCD provided a valuable service to the citizens of Ramsey County and we needed to get our agency in shape. We did.
4) Since the politics involves negotiation of competing interests, please give an example where you successfully negotiated a difficult problem among multiple parties.
The RCD regularly works with the Ramsey County Board and with the locally positioned watersheds that lay within the county and sometimes within an adjoining county. The RCD’s ability to pull together all of the competing agencies to form a united position on overall interests is a good example of how the RCD has successfully negotiated a difficult problem among multiple parties. Before the restructuring of the RCD competitiveness far outweighed the current ability to utilize everyone’s strength. The RCD is now recognized as an effective team player.
5) Please provide an example where you stood up for people or for rights against a powerful organization.
When RCD Staff came to me privately and said they could no longer serve under current management because of incompetence, RCD Supervisors and I were able to formulate a plan that would protect staff, get rid of the incompetence and provide staff with the confidence to go forward with our backing. Neither staff nor supervisors have ever looked back and our financial and community reputation attests to our taking the right action at the right time.
6) Please tell us why your campaign is better choice (i.e. more organized, works harder, works smarter) with specifics?
The campaign for the position of RCD (unpaid) is difficult in the metro counties as there is not the public awareness of the importance of our mandates. In rural areas agricultural runoffs are extremely important. It is difficult to affix the same importance to lawn care, golf courses and the typical metro county citizen’s interaction with groundwater. Because of the usual lack of importance that the average voter gives to the RCD, it is an uphill battle to get voters to even check the ballot for the RCD race. This problem, an ongoing one, is one that we face continually as each election cycle appears.
Having a strong RCD is critical because only then will the average voter get the importance. Current legislative changes will now change how the Supervisors are elected and this should be the last time that the RCD election is county wide. I have both DFL and St. Paul Area Labor Federation endorsements. I have taped a five minute election message on local cable television. Hopefully this activity will help win the day.
7) Please tell us how you as an elected official or your campaign would help other DFL endorsed candidates get into office?
I door knock and phone bank constantly. I am currently Chair of the political action committee of a state wide union. I have been involved in political elections for over forty years. I would bring energy and effectiveness to whatever needs getting done. Elections are won by those who show up – and I show up.
8) How would you keep your constituents informed about issues and what you are doing?
The RCD updates its website constantly. Supervisors and Staff interact on a daily basis with other conservation agencies – watershed districts, city councils, the county board of commissioners, special interest groups. Because our ground water is so fragile, the ongoing interaction among agencies is a critical function of the RCD. In order to be an effective player, reliability and honesty are paramount.