Meet the 2013 Maplewood primary election candidates

Voters heading to polls Aug. 13

Only the Aug. 13 Maplewood primary stands between the candidates for mayor and city council and Election Day Nov. 5. There are currently three candidates for mayor and six candidates for two city council seats.

One mayoral candidate and two council candidates will be eliminated after the primary election. Several candidates responded to the Review’s candidate questionnaires.

Polling locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 13, for the primary election. Those who are not currently registered to vote may do so at the polls. Call the Maplewood Citizens Services Department at 651-249-2001 to learn more about which forms of identification will be accepted for same-day registration.

There are 16 polling locations in the city of Maplewood. To find the polling place nearest to you, visit

Mayoral candidates:

Fran Grant
Grant has filed for mayor in the past, but has not received enough votes in the primaries to advance to November elections. Grant declined to submit comments to the Review and says she does not “believe in photos.” A voluntary disclosure form she submitted to the city lists a personal statement of “Change for taxpayer.”
Diana LongrieDiana Longrie
Longrie, 55, is married to Kevin Berglund, and has two grown sons. She earned her juris doctorate from Hamline University School of Law, and completed her undergraduate education in chemistry and biology at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth.

Longrie currently works as a neighborhood attorney in the Gladstone area. She says the skills she has obtained through this experience make her an “advocate, skilled communicator...problem solver,” and that she is “persuasive, thoughtful.”

Longrie was Maplewood’s first female mayor from 2005-2009. She describes herself as “a smart cookie who cares about people,” and says the public service experience made her a “confident community-organizer.”

She also says that for a decade she has been hosting her cable talk show, “Off the Record News,” and it has helped her become an “experienced conversationalist ... impromptu speaker, welcoming.”

If elected, Longrie states she will “develop a responsive, proactive vision for our city’s future by building upon what we love about Maplewood, taking advantage of geographic location and strategically positioning Maplewood to meet the trends of the next 25 years.”

She lists these trends as natural wealth, commercial strength, fiscal accountability, public safety and infrastructure.

Visit Diana Longrie’s website to learn more at

Nora SlawikNora Slawik
Slawik, 50, has two children-one in college and the other at Tartan High School in Oakdale.

She works full time as the director of education for the Autism Society of Minnesota, and served seven non-consecutive terms between 1996 and 2012 in the state House of Representatives.

Slawik has a master’s degree in public affairs from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota.

When asked why she feels qualifies her to run for mayor, Slawik said she is “seeking the office ... to bring my leadership experience to build a prosperous and positive future for Maplewood.”

She added that her time in the Minnesota Legislature, Maplewood Parks and Recreation Commission and being a “resident ... homeowner, neighbor and mom” has led her to run for office.

She says she is “committed to putting our Maplewood residents first.”

“As I am door knocking our beautiful city our neighbors are telling me their concerns about city services including public safety, street assessments, enforcement of ordinances and civility in our City Council meetings,” Slawik wrote. “I will work hard to listen to the concerns of all Maplewood residents and to work through the issues to a fair resolution.”

Visit Nora Slawik’s website to learn more at

City council candidates:

Marylee AbramsMarylee Abrams
Abrams, 59, is the mother of two grown children. She works as a law partner at Abrams & Schmidt LLC in Arden Hills.

She earned her juris doctorate from William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul. Abrams says her experience working as a practicing labor attorney for nearly 30 years qualifies her to seek a city council seat.

“I have earned the reputation as a hard-worker and a tireless advocate for clients, and will do the same for the citizens of Maplewood,” Abrams states. “I do not have any personal agendas and want only what is best for the citizens of Maplewood.”

She says she has a “unique skill set” that includes “being a good listener, solid decision-maker, and respectful professional.”

She wants Maplewood to be regarded as “a city of excellence,” and its services and prosperity are well known.

“My first priority is restore the reputation of our City Council as a passionate group of professionals, capable of moving the City forward,” Abrams wrote. “This will improve the image of our city as a great place to raise a family, and open or expand a business.”

She added that this would attract and retain jobs, which is essential for economic growth, family stability and an improved quality of life.

Visit Marylee Abrams’ website to learn more at

Margaret Ann BehrensMargaret Ann Behrens
Behrens, 49, has been married to her husband, James, for 31 years. They have four children, the youngest of whom attends North High School in North St. Paul.

Behrens herself graduated from North, continuing on to Century College in the business management and paralegal programs. She says she has also completed other certifications and courses at the University of Minnesota. “I take courses ongoing as a lifelong learner,” Behrens wrote.

Behrens currently works as a program counselor at Lifeworks, Inc.

She cites her service on multiple boards and committees as qualifications for the city council seat. Behrens serves several organizations, including the Ramsey County Conservation District Board, Ramsey County League of Local Governments Board, Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Steering Committee, Ramsey County Children’s Services Citizens Review Panel, Ramsey County Citizens Advisory Council, Maplewood Parks System Task Force and Neighborhood Crime Watch, among others.

Behrens added that she has “budgeting and fiscal decision and policy making experience.”

She remarked that her main priority on the city council is “balancing the budget and cutting excessive and unnecessary spending.”

“The citizens are NOT a bank!” she added.

Visit Margaret Behrens’ website to learn more at

Rebecca CaveRebecca Cave
Cave, 44, has five children. They attend Presentation of Mary School in Maplewood, North High School and one serves in the U.S. Air Force.

She works for the Office of the State Surgeon, and has a bachelor’s degree in public safety from Capella University.

Cave currently holds one of the council seats and her term is expiring this year. She also served in 2006-07, and was elected last year after council member James Llanas stepped down.

Cave says she has a number of qualities that benefit the city.

“I am very passionate about helping the citizens of Maplewood have a voice on the Council,” she wrote. “I enjoy working with other Council members to resolve any city conflicts and making sure that the best decisions are made for the City of Maplewood.”

She identified a few issues and projects that she would prioritize if elected.

“These issues include; protecting and preserving our cities parks and public open spaces, improving public safety response times throughout Maplewood, and business creation and retention.”

Kathy JuenemannKathleen A. “Kathy” Juenemann
Juenemann, 67, is married to her husband Greg. She has a bachelor’s degree in French and secondary education from the College of St. Catherine.

Juenemann is currently in the fourth year of her third term, having served on the city council since 2001.

She says her “years of interest and participation as a community volunteer and activist” act as qualifications to seek re-election.

“In my years as a Councilmember, I have been dedicated, thorough, compassionate about my work, interactive with councilmembers from other cities and elected officials from other levels of government,” Juenemann wrote.

“In my entire time on the council, I have never missed a meeting,” she added.

Juenemann hopes to be able to continue her governing method if re-elected.

“I intend to continue to work with other councilmembers and staff to keep our city financially and environmentally sustainable while maintaining our quality services and focusing on funding for parks and redevelopment,” she said.

Roger Samarani
Samarani did not respond to the Review’s request for responses, but submitted information through a voluntary disclosure form to the city. He says he is a “Maplewood business owner, employer and home owner.”

In his personal statement, Samarani took a stand on several issues.

“No more disrespecting citizens who come to address their government ... putting local businesses out of business by telling citizens who can haul their trash ... adding to a 90 million dollar city debt where 26 cents out of every tax dollar goes to pay debt,” he wrote. “No to managing a community center that is run in the red by a half million dollars a year. No golden parachute severance packages for city managers. No age 50 retirement packages at 90% of salary for police and fire chiefs. No to closing two fire stations and spending $5 million on a new station for 3M. No more destruction of the volunteer fire department (160 volunteers down to 26).”

“I will bring leadership that is both positive and professional,” he added.

“I look forward to a new Maplewood by working with Rebecca Cave, Bob Cardinal and Marv Koppen on the city council. Electing political allies of the current problem will only give us more of the same.”

Warren WesselWarren Wessel
Wessel, 54, has been married to his wife, Linda, for 30 years. He has a daughter who attends Century College and three grown stepdaughters.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in math education from Minnesota State University-Mankato and currently works as a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Burnet.

Although he has never been elected to office in Maplewood, Wessel says he has been on a number of different committees.

“I am currently a member of the Housing and Economic Development Commission for the City of Maplewood and on the Government Affairs Committee for the St Paul Area Association of Realtors,” Wessel wrote.

“Prior to moving to Maplewood in 1996 I was a member of the Oakdale Parks Commission. I was also elected to the Gethsemane School School Board,” he stated. “I inherited a passion for service from my parents.”

Wessel says his priorities in office are to minimize spending and increase the quality of services to citizens.

“My overall philosophy is to make sure we eliminate the waste of the taxpayer’s money, and to maximize the services that every citizen receives,” he stated. “I believe the key is to make sure every decision made by the city government are made with an idea of maximizing the positive impact to the citizenry while making sure no individuals’ rights are violated.”

“I am focused on representing the citizens of Maplewood,” he added.

For more information about elections and voter registration, visit

Johanna Holub can be reached at or 651-748-7814.

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