In Worthington’s Second Ward, 3 candidates vie for City Council seat – The Globe


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Editor’s note: The following responses were edited for spelling. Also, candidates were limited to 150-word responses for each question. Longer responses were trimmed from the bottom up to adhere to instructions. The responses are listed in the order they were received.

WORTHINGTON — Three candidates will appear on the Nov. 8 ballot in the race for Worthington’s Ward 2 city council seat.

Incumbent Alaina Kolpin, who was appointed in 2021 following the death of councilman Mike Harmon, will be joined on the ballot by local business owner Nathalie Nkashama and JBS Strategy Health Manager America Voss.

The Globe asked candidates about their prioirities and plans, should they get elected. Here are their answers.

Why are you seeking office?

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Voss: I am seeking office because I can bring a unique perspective that can energize our constituency. My experience in serving on the YMCA board, Worthington Health Care Foundation, Sanford Patient & Family Advisory Council and many community events has given me a better perspective of the needs of our city and its community members. I not only want to be the voice of the community, but also the inspiration for our new generations.

I believe in the importance of understanding how our city thrives. Cities are like magnets, in that they can either attract or repel new residents, visitors and business investments. Worthington needs strong, trustworthy leaders that must act now to halt this migration of people, energy and resources out of our city. At the same time we need to retain and support those already here in our community. God has opened many doors. As individuals we need to be committed to our beliefs and values for the community we have been trusted in.

Kolpin: To give a voice to the next generation of Worthington residents. My experiences in Worthington as a young mother are much different than was previously represented on City Council.

Nkashama: I would like to join the city council to contribute in making a difference in decisions that impact the lives of Worthington Citizenry. My addition to the team will make the local government a council of diverse minds. I understand the urgency in child care needs in Worthington. I have great strategies for the workforce shortage. I’ll be the voice for all our community. I am a family, faith and mental health focused person. I believe in People first over Politics. I believe a strong economic development committee is crucial to the growth of a community.

What strategies would you advocate for to address workforce shortages?

Voss: This is an issue that won’t change right away … it is everywhere, we see it on the news constantly. I believe that as a community we are going in the right direction. Worthington has so much to offer! We need to continue nurturing not only new generations but new leaders, anyone who makes Worthington their new home and want to take part of the continuing development of our city. Also, by communicating on the different opportunities we have and by assuring that anyone can have the opportunity to grow. We have a city with many talented people, many just graduating from high school, college or even with degrees from different countries that can contribute to a workforce that many companies are longing for.

Also partnering with colleges, high school and businesses for new graduates to see what different businesses can offer them with future education and work.
Kolpin: Continuing to attract new talent & retaining these individuals & families. This means having affordable housing available, open daycare spots & continuing to collaborate with other entities in our area (schools, colleges, counties) to help determine what is needed to solve the issue & then bringing these items to our state legislature to secure funding & implement programs. Another program that I hope to implement would provide resources to current business owners that are looking towards succession planning to help them find candidates to eventually take over their businesses. This would help soften the transitions between owners, promote entrepreneurship among our residents & would help employees retain their positions through ownership changes. The final piece of the puzzle is promoting living & working in Worthington through a marketing campaign.

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Nkashama: Advocate for resources to:

* Hire more high school students.

* Hire retired citizens who desire to work, without affecting their current retirement benefits. For instance, adding their wealth of knowledge to participate in employee retention programs.

* Continue with recruiting immigrants from other countries on a temporary work base visa program to contribute to the workforce.

According to Minnesota DEED, the largest decline in labor force shortage happens among 25 and 34-year-olds, likely due to a mix of industry cuts and childcare responsibilities, and that workers in the oldest age group came back into the labor force at the third fastest rate. Therefore supporting companies to meet employee demand is crucial.

How do you intend to reach and serve Worthington’s diverse constituency?

Voss: I love being able to interact with many people from all over the world. As a Zumba/Dance instructor, I realized that language is not a barrier. Music opened up so many doors between me and many members in the community. I have sat down with people and shared meals, I take time to get to know new people. I enjoy reaching out to sick and elders when I have the opportunity.

I am a well trusted and known in the community. I have been reaching and serving our diverse community for a while. My ability for people to talk to me and share their needs have given me many opportunities within the community.

By being myself, by having coffee with the Ethiopian community, Pho at my Vietnamese friend house, Tacos de Cachete with my friend Elena.

Kolpin: By continuing to promote civic engagement & speaking with members of the community from all backgrounds. I would like to establish a monthly event where several council members are available at a public location to meet with members of the community. With a city as diverse as Worthington, this would be an event coordinated with the Cross Cultural Advisory Committee & interpreters would be on hand. At this event, we could meet with residents to see what issues they’re facing, how we as a city can help & connect them with additional resources as needed.

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Nkashama: I’ve already been reaching out to members of our diverse community for a while now, way before this election. I believe Worthington is a family ecosystem, each group plays a crucial role in its success and growth. It’s good to know our neighbors. I am in touch with community leaders of different backgrounds living in Worthington and local government leaders. I will maintain contact with business owners, community leaders and the citizenry to know the needs of the people we serve. Our diversity helps us work together to resolve gaps. I will be the voice for all.

How do you think the city should address child care needs in Worthington?

Voss: Because of my experience with many parents at work, having child care available 24 hours would be ideal. However, I see that to be very challenging. I know that is the reason why many people offer child watch at their own houses. Having said that, I believe we need to educate parents on what is expected from babysitters and not to allow just anyone to take care of their little ones. Also, we should have protocols in place for anyone who offers child care. We can support them with resources and we must follow up with them to ensure the kids are safe and receiving proper care.

Kolpin: Childcare is an issue that the current council, county commissioners & their respective administrations have been working on since before I was appointed to City Council in 2021. This effort has been spearheaded by Mayor Kuhle & myself over the past 10 months & is one of the main reasons I want to maintain my seat on council. I have two young children & we have experienced firsthand the need for childcare in Worthington. The city should continue to seek grants to establish new childcare positions & support our existing providers, explore partnerships with other entities & businesses to get projects off the ground & continue providing support to developers who are working to establish programs in our area.

Nkashama: Approving grants and services for:

* Public schools to be involved in providing child care for teachers and its employees, this would open up more space in paid child care centers.

* Employers to become child care providers.

According to labor force participation statistics, parents aged 25 to 34 years old often have children under 8 years old and they are the largest age group for jobs, and there is a need for childcare incentives for that age group.

* In-home child care services and multilingual training.

* Child Care providers to meet licensure requirements.

* Daycare teachers to further education in early childhood education, in partnership with the local college.

* Community child care center for families that can’t operate daycare in home settings.

What role should the city have in spurring economic development, particularly current or new amenities and businesses?

Voss: I believe is in the best interest of the city to be proactive and involve with businesses that want to improve and grow their bottom line to bring more business to Worthington. For example; like the Facade grant that the businesses received to help them to be more inviting. To help small business owners that don’t speak English to know about resources and opportunities for improvement. And to help with resources for entrepreneurs that want to start new businesses.

Kolpin: The city’s role is to promote economic development. This includes providing support for both new & existing businesses. When there is a gap between what is available and what is desired in the community by its residents, the city can look to develop new amenities. Over the last several years, many amenities have come online however we need to continue to balance the amenities that are desired against the budget to ensure we aren’t overextending ourselves financially.

Nkashama: Allocating grants to allow automation in small businesses, to meet shortages in workforce. Allocating grants for business innovation. Consulting with businesses on how to distribute federal, state and city funds.

What investments would you like to see made in Worthington’s future?

Voss: I know many residents talk about the desire of having new businesses all the time. I understand for a small community is difficult to attract different franchises due to our population and proximity to larger cities. Rather than keep thinking about newer and better, how do we improve existing businesses and what do we do with the many vacated buildings in town. For example, old Running’s building, pizza hut, carl’s, bowling alley, etc.

Kolpin: I would like to see Worthington’s infrastructure remain a top priority. For many years street projects were put off & there are many streets that need to be overlayed or reconstructed. Significant investment should be made in our children by supporting additional & existing childcare within the city. I would also like to see more housing (single family & apartments) available for current & new residents. Last, I would like to see the residents of Worthington work alongside council to continue reimagining what the future of Worthington should look like.

Nkashama: Housing with less crippling income guidelines, cultural center and community kitchen. Theme parks that would attract visitors and more young families to want to move in or stay in Worthington. Sidewalk improvement. Provide incentives to attract major brands like Target, dollar store, dollar general.

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