Messages from the Council Chair

Partnerships matter for regional success

April 2019

For more than 50 years, the Metropolitan Council has been the regional planning agency, and in that time one fundamental truth has been demonstrated again and again: you can’t do good regional planning without local partnerships.

A person pointing at a paper with 3 other people watching.Since I took the role of Council chair in January, one of my top priorities has been to visit as many parts of the region as possible. I’ve been reaching out to local elected officials, community leaders, and business people to form new relationships with those I haven’t met yet, and to strengthen the bonds I’ve built with others I’ve worked with over the years.

It’s a chance to share in the dreams of the people who live across our region. In recent weeks, I’ve enjoyed a tour of the coming Gold Line in the east metro and heard from Carver County commissioners about their efforts to make Highway 212 safer to travel in the southwest metro. Seeing Highway 212 with local officials as they discussed the needed improvements was eye-opening – it was also a reminder of the value of traveling around the region to hear directly from those impacted by projects and issues. Thank you to everyone who took part in those discussions. I’m looking forward to the many events planned in the coming weeks.

More than a dozen people talking at 3 round tables.One of the most important discussions I’ve had was with Metro Mobility riders in Bloomington. In mid-April, we hosted a conversation with a packed room of people with disabilities, many of whom are unable to use regular-route transit. I heard many personal stories about how they rely on Metro Mobility to get to work, school, doctor appointments, and shopping. This is an essential service we provide for the region that serves as a lifeline for thousands of people. The discussions were frank; and while riders weren’t shy about telling us where we can improve, they also expressed their appreciation and support for the program.

I can honestly say that our Council staff is one of the most hardworking, talented group of individuals I’ve ever encountered. And they know, as do Council policymakers, that they cannot carry out our mission without local input and partnerships. It’s why we’re here: because by working together we foster economic prosperity, livability, and sustainability in our region.

Nora Slawik