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Faribault City Council Members on City’s Ranking

Recently, a website put out a list of what they claimed to be the 10 worst cities in Minnesota. See what two Faribault city council members had to say about where Faribault landed on the list. 

Asked in an online forum for their opinion about Faribault being listed as the sixth-worst city in Minnesota, two Faribault city council members weighed in.

Faribault City Council member Royal Ross has this to say, “This article is for infotainment only and is based on ‘facts.’ It also includes Brainerd, Bemidji, and St. Cloud and I would not think of those 3 cities as being the armpit of Minnesota. Education is low based on standardized test scores. This is true – our average test scores are low. This will be the case in any community with a high immigrant / refugee population. But that doesn’t mean the kids are getting a bad education. I have had 3 kids graduate from FHS – 2 in 2013 and they both easily got accepted into 4 year colleges. My youngest graduated this year and I’m confident that he will get into college if he chooses to go that route. I personally think our teachers do a great job in an extremely difficult situation. Right now, our elementary schools are over 50% minority and as those kids move through our education system, our average test scores will improve.”

Ross went on to say, “Unemployment? Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I think the 2000+ inmates in the prison count as part of our population – therefore also part of our unemployment. If I’m correct, this fact is a joke. Regardless, every factory in town is hiring and all of them pay about 50% more than minimum wage. You can argue what is a livable wage, but the vast majority of people working in our community are able to eat, drive decent cars, talk on cell phones and watch flat screen tvs.”

Regarding the price of homes in the community, Ross said, “Faribault has the 35th lowest home value rank. Couldn’t you also say we have the 35th ranked most affordable housing? However you look at it, this matches our income levels. We have a lot of good paying factory jobs that support families. We don’t have a lot of high paying jobs – just a lot of good paying, stable jobs. You can play with and view this statistic however you want to.”

Ross also said, “Crime rate – interestingly, the article didn’t provide one statistic on crime. Just said we have a lot of it. I’ll admit, I don’t know much about reading crime rates, but a quick look on Faribault’s Citi-data site showed that our crime rate has dropped each of the last 4 years and now stands 14% lower than the national average. Does anyone know how we compare to other Minnesota cities? I thought it was interesting that Burglaries and Theft seemed to me to be the highest ranked – and those are crimes of economic opportunity. So what can we do about it? This is a person’s outside perception of what Faribault is. If you want to do something about it, talk about what we do have: lots of city parks and outside green space, bike/walking paths, about 7 lakes within 15 miles, a bike trail that goes to Mankato, a nature center that is free and huge by comparable standards, a first class theatre that provides entertainment year around, lots of shore fishing, multiple annual city celebrations, in city canoeing / kayaking, etc….. We also have great people that provide and volunteer to provide free community meals on a weekly basis, a volunteer youth activity center at the mall, much giving at Christmas time to help others, supportive women’s shelters to help those that need it, etc….Our community is what it is and a person can choose to look at it however they want to. But I completely disagree with us being labeled an armpit of Minnesota.”

City Council member Janna Viscomi stated, “I personally think we can be more competitive. We always have room for improvement. We can always try harder. We need to take a real hard look at where we are today, discuss our advantages, acknowledge our challenges and come up with a plan that addresses both. This community has such incredible opportunity and potential. Not to mention, It has some of the most amazing people I have ever met. Does it feel like a struggle now? Yes. It’s called growing pains. All towns experience it. The best ones come out the other side better!”

Viscomi went on to say, “As for education. You get what you pay for.” And “As for leaving here if you don’t like it. Many people have because they were concerned about their investments, their children’s education and their future experiences here. Shouldn’t we be doing whatever we can to be a more attractive community? Instead of tearing each other apart about the opinions of others. Who wants to be a part of that?”

Both council members made some valid points. Our community is nowhere near the negative picture that the list would imply, and yet, as with any city, there are areas that would benefit from additional resources. Faribault has a lot of positive aspects, but to maintain the good and progress even farther, a community is never done growing, changing and improving. There are elected officials, business owners and volunteers working each day on short and long term, exciting and less glamorous projects to help Faribault reach it’s potential, and getting behind and supporting positive efforts can only help amplify them.

It’s also important to be aware of the source of the list and its credibility. The opening sentence to the original article is “This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment.” So in addition to admitting to being influenced by personal opinion and therefore subjective, the article also does not link to the source of the “facts.” And, as Power 96’s Mike Eiler wrote “I still think this is a good place to raise a family and spend your life. Your town is what you make of it. But I don’t think Faribault deserves to be considered the sixth-worst city in Minnesota, or on that list at all!”

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