Rick Blake

Rick Blake

Grand Rapids

Education: Grand Rapids High School; Associate of Arts from Itasca Community College; Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of North Dakota; two-year participant in the Careers in Urban and Regional Affairs program at the University of Minnesota

Relevant experience: Community Organizer Aide for Ramsey (County) Action Programs; Relocation Worker for the Housing and Redevelopment Authority of St. Paul; Construction Electrician for various electrical contractors; Electrical Engineer at Boeing, Honeywell, and National Steel Pellet Company; Maintenance Coordinator at Blandin Paper Company; City of Champlin Planning Commission; Itasca Family YMCA Board; Grand Rapids Area Library Board; Grand Rapids Housing and Redevelopment Authority Board

What would you bring to the city council that would contribute to the success of city government?

I am proud to say that Grand Rapids has been my family’s home for several generations. My grandparents, George and Alma, parents Bob and Tish, and children Sholom, Aaron, Jessica, and Michael, and my children’s children all have called Grand Rapids home. As a small business owner and family man, I am committed to helping keep Grand Rapids a business-friendly city that is a great place to live, work, and raise a family.

I have a wide variety of experience in both the public and private sectors. This diverse background, vocationally and as a volunteer, has helped me develop the tools I need to successfully work with others to get the job done. My success as a collaborator will be an asset to the City as the City continues to explore new ways of collaborating with other units of government. The citizens of Grand Rapids will find that I am approachable and am a good listener, two characteristics that are highly desirable in a city councilor. In addition, one of my jobs at Blandin Paper Company involved supervising a department with a $1,000,000+ budget. I set the budget, provided good solid rationale for it, obtained its approval, and successfully operated within it.

What have you been hearing from constituents as the most important issues facing your city? And what would you do about them?

Constituents have told me that property taxes and affordable housing are key issues.

I will work as a team member with city staff, the mayor and other city councilors to decrease, or at minimum, keep the tax rate from increasing, by exploring innovative ways to save money while preserving necessary city services. A good example is the current effort to save over $4 million dollars in interest on bonds by using a small sales tax to pay cash for street repairs. I also heartily support the city’s efforts to collaborate with other government entities to avoid unnecessary duplication of services.

Affordable housing that is decent, safe, and sanitary has been one of my concerns since working for the St. Paul Housing and Redevelopment Authority in the 1970s. My goal is to have the City collaborate with the City and County Housing and Redevelopment Authorities, agencies such as the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency, and private developers to address the housing needs of Grand Rapids. This includes preserving the existing housing stock as well as providing new housing options for the hundreds of new residents expected in Grand Rapids over the next few years due to projects such as Essar and Magnetation.

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