Rhonda Sivarajah, Anoka County Board chairperson, is opposed by Kevin Ryan in District 6. The Voters Guide questionnaire mailed to Ryan twice was returned undeliverable by the post office and when a phone call was made to his home, the line was disconnected.
Sivarajah: A public servant: chairperson, Anoka County Board; 10 years experience on county board; chairperson, Human Services Committee; serves on the Public Works Committee, Metro Emergency Services Board and Finance and Capital Improvements Committee; member, I-35W/E Coalition; 12 years professional experience in county government.
A community leader: Board of Directors, Greater MSP; member, Quad Area Chamber of Commerce and Metro North Chamber of Commerce; appointed to Governor’s Workforce Development Council; appointed to Early Hearing and Detection and Intervention Advisory Committee; appointed to Minnesota Commission Serving Deaf, Deaf Blind and Hard of Hearing People; active participant in fund-raising activities for Lee Carlson Center for Mental Health and Well-Being and Muscular Dystrophy Association; church affiliation, Eagle Brook.
Married 22 years to Ran, court security officer/retired police officer; two children, Asha and Sonjay, grades 10 and 12 at Centennial High School; former small business owner; have lived in Lino Lakes since 1996; born and raised in rural Cambridge; received B.A. from St. Cloud State University.
2. What should be the priorities of the county board and why?
Sivarajah: The county board’s priorities should be focused on fiscal responsibility, streamlining government services, infrastructure improvements and promoting job growth.
As a county board we must continue to work to ensure that each taxpayer dollar is utilized in an efficient, effective, responsible manner — focusing on core government services — those things which we are mandated to provide.
Construction and maintenance of local roads and bridges, public safety and child protection are just a few examples of our core services.
Continuing to implement lean business practices and innovative reforms along with the use of technology will allow us to streamline and be more efficient in the delivery of services.
Currently we have a physical campus where people can come to access services, but moving towards also providing a digital campus will allow us to meet the needs of those who prefer to access services online.
At the same time we must focus on capacity and safety improvements in our transportation infrastructure while ensuring existing roads and bridges are maintained.
Finally, creating an environment which is attractive to businesses will be important in order to attract private economic investment to our county.
3. What role should the county board play in stimulating economic development in Anoka County?
Sivarajah: Government doesn’t create jobs, but it can create a business friendly environment.
Anoka County needs to continue to work with Greater MSP which markets the region nationally and globally.
Working with our cities to have information needed by site selectors readily available provides the ability for Greater MSP to actively market sites to businesses looking to locate here.
Another county role is to identify the needs businesses have for a trained workforce and encourage our higher education institutions to create training programs to meet the changing needs of business.
Currently there are jobs available, but many companies cannot find skilled workers to fill those jobs.
Finally, there is the opportunity for economic gardening.
Working with the Lowe Foundation, we can identify second-stage companies in our communities — those that have advanced beyond the startup phase but haven’t reached maturity who have potential for high growth.
Economic gardening leverages experienced leaders and their business intelligence tools that these smaller companies can’t afford or have access to.
These leaders share their expertise and assist companies in identifying tools to help them grow and succeed.
Promoting growth and expansion of existing businesses and focusing on retention efforts is vitally important to our community.