Why I’m running for Brookings City Council

Why I’m running for Brookings City Council

The people of Brookings are its greatest asset. My vision for Brookings is that its residents invest in the community and the city council invests in its residents.

The people of Brookings will drive its growth. Policies should enable and encourage long-time residents and newcomers alike to shape the future of the city.

As a councilor, I want to motivate the city and its residents to embrace long-term, audacious goals.

Four Trends

There are four trends affecting the future of Brookings and communities around the country.

  1. People don’t move for jobs, jobs move for people. A community with skilled citizens attracts businesses. Businesses that move for people are more likely to stay and invest in the community. After all, a vibrant community retains talent, so it is in the business’ interest to make the community great. Chasing corporate headquarters with tax breaks is no longer the best way to develop an economy. Instead, the futures is grassroots development focused on people and entrepreneurs.
  2. Jobs increasingly require creativity. Everything from manufacturing to finance now demands innovative ideas. Over 1/3rd of Americans are now a part of this “creative class,” and the number is rising dramatically, especially in college towns like Brookings. What’s more, many jobs can be done from any location, so people can choose the community that best fuels their most important skill: creativity.
  3. Diverse communities are creative communities. New ideas and perspectives speed innovation and improve work. Communities that embrace diversity will thrive and will be more interesting places to live.
  4. People choose a community based on social offerings, openness and aesthetic. People expect basic services wherever they go, but they move to a community based on its “soul.” Uniqueness, history and wide-ranging amenities will retain and attract creative, diverse talent.

Three Areas of Focus

Brookings can and should take advantage of the trends shaping the future of vibrant communities. That’s why my vision for Brookings City Council can be best summarized by three areas of focus: talent, openness, and place.


People are Brookings’ greatest asset, so it makes sense that the Brookings City Council should work to create policy that attracts talent to the city and helps retain the talent that is already here. Attracting a large number of entrepreneurs instead of a small number of large companies is the best way forward.

To attract talented creatives, I would encourage the council to:

  • Improve our downtown alleys in order to create small space retail or recreation locations that are alley-facing. This increases the density downtown and is a key factor in creating energy among shoppers and visitors.
  • Start a 1% community fund. Start-ups would be encouraged to give 1% of founding equity or 1% of annual profits to the community. This requires no funding from the city and instills civic philanthropy in future businesses. Many of Brookings’ largest businesses have transformed our community with similar philanthropy, so let’s nurture it throughout the community.
  • Further develop and promote bike lanes throughout the city. Cities with bike commuters are attractive to young creatives. Bike commuters are more likely to shop local, contributing to the community’s economy. Bike lanes promote active and healthy lifestyles. It’s a small investment with a big return.
  • Facilitate mentorship and internship opportunities for students. Students could participate in capstones or projects that include community participation and local businesses to get them connected before they leave.


I want Brookings to be a welcoming community for everyone.

Communities that are diverse and tolerant of difference are more likely to attract talent and inspire creativity. If we want Brookings to thrive in the coming decades, it must be a welcoming community for everyone.

To encourage a more open and welcoming community, I would encourage the council to:

  • Prioritize leadership roles for women and under-represented groups. An easy way to begin is simply to report on representation on the city boards and groups and open up city data for use by researchers at SDSU and elsewhere. Based on the data, we can make a simple goal for improvement.
  • Provide civic resources in multiple languages and expand offerings to help residents new to the United States. Translation assistance is an easy and low-cost way to help new residents integrate and to welcome visitors from around the globe. As international businesses relocate to Brookings, this will be increasingly important.
  • Expand housing options for low-income families and for singles.


When choosing a community, people expect smooth roads, plowed streets and access to basic infrastructure.

What they look for is people-centered places.

Brookings needs to continue providing top-notch infrastructure but should not grow to be a carbon copy of other sprawling cities. Instead, we should celebrate our history, strive to create density and enable community-building through our city’s design.

To build people-centered places, I would encourage the council to:

  • Mandate all municipal building projects allocate 1% of the budget to public art.
  • Create an arts and entrepreneurship district to display street art, support a maker’s space and commercial kitchen, and house a retail incubator. The retail incubator would be a privately-run series of connected, starter shops where students or entrepreneurs could test a business in the real world.
  • Create “pocket parks” or small green spaces for public use.
  • Pass policy that enables the sharing economy (ride-sharing, house-sharing, etc.)

I love Brookings

After years of traveling the world, I learned an important truth about my home community: I love Brookings.

Let’s inspire that love for our community and encourage our city to dream big. We are capable of more than we think is possible if we work towards a shared vision.

Join me as we make Brookings the community we want to live in.

Want to help the campaign?

Just as people will make our community great, so too will people make the campaign a success.

With that in mind, we invite you to take the 100 person challenge. We are looking for:

Take the challenge and make Brookings great.

Want to know more about me?

I grew up in Brookings, studied abroad thanks to the Brookings Rotary Club and am a tech entrepreneur employing over 25 people in South Dakota. Click here to read the full story.

Meet my family: Taylor, Amelia and me!