Oakdale mayoral race comes to a head Nov. 6

A lively Roseville City Council race, in which the city held it’s first primary since 2012, is nearing its end. 

The August primary narrowed the field from nine candidates to six vying for three seats, and come Election Day on Nov. 6, voters are all but guaranteed to elect at least one new face to the council.

Incumbent Mayor Dan Roe is running for his third term as mayor, while current, two-term council member Tammy McGehee is also making a run at the seat.

Council incumbent Bob Willmus is seeking his third council term, and is challenged by Jim Bull, Wayne Groff and Dannah Thompson. The four are vying for two council seats.

The candidates answered questions via email including why they are running, what skills and experiences they will bring to office, what they believe to be the top challenges the city faces and what issues or projects they would prioritize if elected.

 

Mayoral race

McGehee, 73, is married to Richard and is retired, though she said she still does property management and volunteer work. She has a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a master’s degree in English/teaching from Brown University.

She said she would bring skills in management, oral and written communications, budget management, strategic planning and her eight years of council experience to the mayor’s seat.

McGehee said she is running for mayor because she believes the council needs to make long-range strategic plans that are informed by “substantial citizen involvement and engagement” in order to get the city on a fiscally responsible and environmentally sustainable path.

“Roseville has been on a ‘spending spree’ buying a strip mall, building park buildings, creating new parks and building a new golf clubhouse,” she said, noting staffing expenses are also set to rise.

In order to not tax residents out of their homes, McGehee said the city needs a plan for sustainable programs and fiscal responsibility, noting that between the property tax levy and utility fees, the owner of a median-valued home is paying $374 more annually to the city than they did compared to 2012.

McGehee said her top priority if elected would be to unite all the city’s existing wants into a holistic planning document.

“This process would provide the city and residents a fiscally sound document establishing spending priorities, solutions and fiscal challenges, and a reserve level that would provide for the unexpected,” she said.

 

Roe, 50, is single and works as a regional sales manager for Dynamic Air Inc., in Vadnais Heights. He has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

He said he brings listening, problem-solving and communication skills to the council, as well as empathy and meeting chair experience.

Roe said he’s running for another four-year term because “I remain passionate about Roseville and our success as a community. I believe we have accomplished much that we can be proud of over the last few years, and I want to be sure that we can continue that important progress.”

That success is shared by the community as a whole, he said, spread between the city council, city staff, residents and businesspeople. 

“Roseville’s primary challenge in the coming years is to keep ourselves a vibrant and successful first-ring suburb,” Roe said, noting that would require striking a balance between the city’s suburban heritage and the urbanization faced by such first-ring suburbs.

 

Other challenges include infrastructure rehabilitation, upkeep of public safety in residential areas and economic development. “Neglect in any of these areas can lead to decline,” he said.

If re-elected, Roe said he would prioritize implementing the vision plan for the Rice Street/Larpenteur Avenue area, working with the police department on crime reduction, continuing to fund infrastructure improvements, fostering non-retail economic development to enhance the tax base and spread the cost of city services more evenly.

He added, “And improve engagement related to city decision-making, making authentic and meaningful engagement the norm, not the exception.”

 

Council race

Bull, 64, is in a committed relationship with Christine Minor and works as a senior project manager for Genesis10. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business and information systems management from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.

A current two-term member on the city Planning Commission, Bull said he also has 30-plus years of management consulting and project leadership. He said he’s a results-orientated, team player who is committed to doing the best for his community. “I am an analytical creative thinker that looks for positive solutions,” he added.

Bull said he is running for the council because “we have a need for leaders that can make the best decisions for Roseville” and, because of his dedication to community service, “this is a logical step to more responsibility in our city.” He said he also wants to move forward with the city’s 2040 Comprehensive Plan and work for a more inclusive community.

There are a number of challenges facing the city, Bull said, including managing spending on city services and infrastructure, managing increasing crime, redevelopment, inclusivity, communicating with residents, keeping up with clean energy advancements, maintaining the city’s “fabulous” parks, and transportation connectivity.

Bull said his top priority would be implementing the comprehensive plan — it guides future housing, economic development, transportation and nearly everything else in the city — which he’s spent the last 18 months working on as a member of the Planning Commission.

 

Groff, 67, is married to Jim Dryden and is a realtor for Edina Realty. He has a bachelor’s degree in horticulture/landscape architecture from North Dakota State University.

A current Planning Commission member, Groff also served on the Human Rights Commission and said he would bring knowledge of housing and property from his 40 years as a realtor. He said he also knows what people are looking for in the community, is able to negotiate and work with others to achieve positive solutions and is committed to strong local government in which all residents participate.

Groff said he is running based on his 30 years of experience in local government. “I would like to continue the work on these issues to make Roseville the best it can be for all residents.”

Though “Roseville is already a wonderful place to live,” Groff said areas that could use attention now and into the future include transportation and the ease of getting around the city; preserving the city’s current housing stock “while encouraging sensible property development” for a mix of housing; and protection of the city’s parks, lakes and environment though careful watershed management.

 If elected, Groff said he would prioritize, “Promoting an open city government that encourages citizen involvement [that’s] responsive to residents’ needs, and inclusive to all groups within our community.” He said he would also strive to make the government as accessible and understandable as possible.

 

Thompson, 28, is married to Brett Thompson and is a paralegal supervisor for Meyer Njus Tanick, PA, a private law firm in downtown Minneapolis. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of St. Thomas in political science with a minor in justice and peace studies.

She said she would bring to office a commitment and dedication to her constituents and the office, the ability to make informed decisions where multiple opinions are present and the ability to lead with humility and accountability. Thompson also said she’s transparent and honest and stays true to her beliefs and convictions.

She said she is running “to be proactive, end discontentment and restore faith in the office by bringing a fresh perspective to Roseville and address issues facing working class and under-represented communities.”

The top challenges facing Roseville, Thompson said, are policies relating to policing, affordable housing, sustainability and small business, all of which pertain to her vision for the renovation of the Rice and Larpenteur area.

Thompson said her No. 1 issue if elected would be addressing police reform, saying the week before she filed for office an excessive force complaint was filed against the Roseville Police Department. 

Such reform, she said, would include an “evaluation of current efforts to build community trust and recommending further adjustments/suggestions, the installation of a community advisory board/mental health professional, and a re-evaluation of what the department is currently choosing to enforce.”

 

Willmus, 51, is married to Debby Willmus and is a local realtor with “a major real estate brokerage.” He has a bachelor’s degree in real estate/finance with a minor in economics from St. Cloud State University.

Through his eight years in the position, Willmus said, “I have proven myself to be a collaborative member of the council,” noting he’s an open-minded listener who is respectful to opposing points of view. He also has experience as a volunteer and with multiple city task forces, committees, commissions and boards.

Willmus said he is running because, “I am very passionate about Roseville and want to continue improving our community for future generations.” He said the current council is benefiting the community, a point underlined by the recent community survey in which 95 percent of respondents said their quality of life was good or excellent.

The top challenges Willmus sees facing the city include providing public safety in line with the community’s goals and vision, revitalizing southeast Roseville, natural resource management, maintaining parks, the changing demographics of the city and transportation.

If re-elected, Willmus said he would work to maintain the city’s quality of life through services and programs, maintain the city’s roads and infrastructure, support alternative energy, diversify the tax base, support seniors who wish to age in place, approach the budget in a fiscally responsible way and support collaboration between the city and its schools, community and civic groups.

 

For more information about voting, go to www.sos.state.mn.us/elections-voting.

 

-Mike Munzenrider can be reached at mmunzenrider@lillienews.com or 651-748-7813. 

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