Times 2020 Election Candidate Profile: Morgan Hibma, challenger City Council At-Large

Mike Christopherson
Crookston Times

First off, could you tell us a little bit about yourself? Your family, education, background/previous stops, career, etc.?

    I grew up in Rapid City, SD and moved to Minnesota for college. I graduated from St. Cloud State where I earned my Bachelor of Science in Business. After college I moved down to the Twin Cities metro area where I worked in marketing and business development and helped small businesses across the country grow and thrive.  I am now proud to call Crookston my home with my husband Tom and rescue dog Sid.  I currently am the Marketing Director at Rydell in Grand Forks.

Why are you running for Crookston City Council?

    I would like to be elected to the Crookston City Council to help give back to the community that has been so welcoming to me. I believe that I can help bring change to Crookston by providing fresh ideas and bringing a sense of transparency.  I believe that my proven experience in the private sector will help provide me with insight on how I can help Crookston grow a thriving economy by supporting small businesses along with bringing in new sustainable businesses that benefit the community.

Can you list what you think are the three best things the Crookston community has going for it at this particular moment in time, and reasons why you chose these three things?

    •    Crookston is a place where you can get to know your neighbor. Crookston provides a sense of community that is not easily found in larger cities. Crookston is a place that you can call home and enjoy the opportunity to see and interact with someone you know every time you go out. This also provides us a unique opportunity to truly understand what our citizens wants and needs are.

    •    I have been pleased to see the continued effort by the city to support the development of single-family homes and market rate apartments. This has helped provide opportunities for families to call Crookston home.

    •    Crookston provides great opportunities for outdoor recreation. We have wonderful trails and parks that are well maintained and provide our community members the opportunities to explore and experience the outdoors.

On the flip side, what trio of challenges facing the Crookston community are the most daunting, in your view? What can/should/needs to be done to tackle these challenges?

    •    Lack of a growing economy. This has led to many of our buildings downtown sitting empty and deteriorating. Crookston would also benefit from more well-paying jobs that would attract more people to work and live in the community.

    We need to provide incentives to those in our community that want to open their own business, to open those businesses in our downtown area.  We need to provide incentives and support our current small business owners by providing them resources to sustain and maintain their businesses. I would also help the city bring in consulting resources to help our small business owners prosper.  

    •    It has been well document that Crookston has a lack of childcare providers.  This is a deterrent to families who may otherwise want to live and work here. The lack of childcare puts families in a position where they have to choose between work and family.

    I believe our City Council needs to help provide more resources and incentives to help bring in other childcare options such as private childcare centers and supporting our community members that would like to provide at home childcare.

    •    The perception of City Leaders opposition to change and improvement. Crookston has lost opportunities in the past to help bring in more well-paying jobs.  With the option for more well-paying jobs which would help boost our economy and support our current and future business owners. I believe we need to be more open to the idea of outside companies and industries coming into our community, as long as those companies will not hurt our current economy.

Please describe what you envision downtown Crookston will be like in 10 years.

    I would like to see our downtown area become a thriving economy where no store front is empty, and our buildings are renovated. I believe Crookston can become a destination for people outside of our community to visit and patronize our local businesses. I envision our downtown area as a place for our community to gather with their friends and family and enjoy everything that Crookston has to offer.  Bringing food trucks into our downtown area has been a wonderful success and shows that our community is looking for more similar events. I would love to help support our downtown community leaders by helping bring in live music and art festivals and more family friendly events. Our downtown area has the potential to become the crown jewel of our town and provide us the opportunity to show everyone what Crookston has to offer.

If you had to grade the performance of the Crookston City Council, mayor position and City administration over the past five years, what grade would you give? Please explain why you chose the grade you did.

    If I was to grade our current city leaders, I would give them the grade of a C.  

    Our city leaders have done a great job providing opportunities for expansion of single-family homes and bringing in and supporting events, such as the food trucks, to our downtown area.  

    Unfortunately, I do feel like Crookston has lost out on many opportunities in the recent years to improve and provide much needed resources to our community members. It sometimes appears that if our city leaders receive any type of opposition, they do not look for a resolution that would fit all party’s’ needs. I hate the word problem but prefer to embrace challenges as opportunities to do better. This is a mentality that I can help bring to our City Council and help create a culture of constantly striving to do better.

    The division between the different groups and organizations within our city and government is a detriment to our community.  We are stronger together, and I will work to help bring understanding and teamwork between all parties.

Please finish this sentence: The Crookston community is …

    ...made up of hardworking and good-hearted people.  I am so proud to be part of this community.

Can you list two people in your life that have particularly inspired you, or two people that you especially admire and try to emulate? Please explain your choices.

    One of the people that has inspired me the most in my life is my younger sister Melissa.  She has always been someone to follow her dreams, even when others are telling her no.  She amazes me with her strength and perseverance in the face of challenges.  My sister also has the biggest heart and has taught me never to judge someone, you never know what is going on in their life.  If there is something you can do to help someone, then you should do it, even if it is as simple as smiling at a stranger.

    Another person that I have always admired is my husband.  He has dedicated his life to helping others and his community.  He is constantly pushing me to be a better person and to never give up.  I respect his loyalty to others, and his unwavering commitment to do what is right, even if it is hard.  I am the person I am today because of him.

Morgan Hibma