Water and development on the minds of Lake Elmo City Council candidates

The results of the Lake Elmo City Council race will include at least one new council member, who will take a seat on the council in January.

Two positions on the council are open and there are three candidates running. Incumbent Jill Lundgren is being challenged by Dale Dorschner and Lisa McGinn.

Current council member Julie Fliflet chose not to run for re-election and her term ends at the end of the year.

The Review asked the candidates via email why they are running, what they believe the top challenges will be in Lake Elmo in upcoming years and what project they will prioritize if elected.

 

Dorschner, 53, said the main reason he is running is “is to fulfill the lack of dedication and leadership of the two incumbents,” adding that collaboration amongst council members and community partners is needed to reach the best possible outcomes for the city.

“The residents expect and deserve council members that are not only dedicated to their obligations of a council member but that can effectively represent the best interest of all residents regardless of individual disputes or personal disagreements,” Dorschner said.

He added that his experience and demonstrated leadership can improve the council’s effectiveness in this way, adding that he has been appointed twice to the city’s Planning Commission where he has “demonstrated the ability to negotiate in a collaborative and respectful manner to achieve the best possible outcomes for the city.”

Dorschner works as the deputy chief operating officer at the Minnesota Department of Health. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Mankato State University, and is married to Lisa Dorschner.

When talking about the city’s upcoming needs, Dorschner focused on water resources and managing growth.

He noted that ensuring safe drinking water for residents and lobbying for lake and groundwater improvements are significant challenges Lake Elmo faces.

“[T]he council, along with the city staff, will need to work with our partners at the state, the stewards of the 3M settlement monies, to negotiate the use of the money in the most effective manner possible to mitigate our city’s contamination issues,” Dorschner said. 

He also said that, for him, effectively managing growth means “recognizing and understanding the requirement of the Metropolitan Council’s mandate to grow, while maintaining realistic expectations about growth so we can attract quality developments.”

He added, “It’s important to also recognize the cities land use distinctions and to leverage the potential for obtaining additional resources that commercial can provide in order to effectively manage the resident’s tax dollars.”

Dorschner said that if he is elected, he is willing to use his skills wherever needed to “rebuild the confidence of residents, potential investors and the League of Minnesota Cities.”

He said that the most important skills he would bring to elected office are his leadership, collaboration, negotiation and change management skills and experiences. He added that he also brings significant governance experience.

 

Lundgren, who declined to share her age with the Review, is finishing up her first four-year term on the Lake Elmo City Council. She said that if re-elected, she brings to the position her experience serving on the council for the past four years as well as her previous experience serving on the Planning Commission.

She added that she also brings common sense, respectfulness, attentive listening, due diligence and civil discussions.

Although Lundgren said she is currently not working due to medical illness, she has experience working as a registered nurse clinician. She graduated from the University of Arkansas in nursing. She is married to Tom Lundgren.

Lundgren said she is running because she cares about “preserving Lake Elmo’s open space feel,” and she plans to continue fighting to protect things like the Shiltgen Farm.

“Developers are obliterating buffers to increase housing units and feed their own bottom line, but I’m not afraid to push back,” Lundgren said.

Water, development and fiscal responsibility are the top challenges Lundgren said Lake Elmo faces in upcoming years.

She said that the council needs to ensure there is clean, safe drinking water for all residents, and if she is elected, the top issue she will prioritize is addressing water contamination and the related lawsuit with 3M Company.

With regards to development, Lundgren said, “[W]e need well-planned, quality development with adequate buffers, and we must hold developers accountable. Developers should not define our community and I will represent the residents and not the developer’s pocketbooks, unlike the current council majority.”

She added that if elected she will also prioritize ensuring that developers not define Lake Elmo.

On the topic of fiscal responsibility, Lundgren said, “[S]pending is out of control under the current majority ... “ with a reference to the increase residents saw in the city portion of their property taxes between 2017 and 2018. She added that the city needs “strong fiscal management and fiscal discipline with our taxpayer dollars.”

“I am running for re-election because I care about Lake Elmo and all our residents, and will continue to listen and be an independent voice on the council,” Lundgren said. “I will continue to bring civil discussions and seek the best alternatives for the complex issues we are experiencing.”

 

McGinn, 65, is a retired police commander for the St. Paul Police Department and currently serves as a volunteer on the Lake Elmo Public Safety Committee. She holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice/public administration from Metropolitan University, and is married to Michael McGinn.

“My commitment to making a positive impact on our community came while watching the much-publicized breakdown of civility and function of our city council,” McGinn said. “The history of turmoil within our city government has created an atmosphere inconsistent with providing exceptional services our residents and general public deserve.”

She said she will bring a new perspective to the council and will “work for positive change through respect, collaboration and hard work.” 

McGinn listed the city’s top three challenges as regaining trust of residents and the public at large, managing new growth and dealing with the water crisis.

She explained that Lake Elmo is experiencing new growth, but is also experiencing aging in some neighborhoods, and there will be a need to find “effective and fiscally responsible solutions” to ensure the city’s infrastructure and services keep pace with the community’s needs.

“Balancing growth while preserving open spaces and our small town character will take thoughtful planning and provide great opportunities,” McGinn said.

McGinn said that if she is elected, she will prioritize public safety, which she said she thinks should always be the first priority of city government. 

“While I am very confident the service provided by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office [is] serving our community well, our volunteer fire department is experiencing record low participation, similar to volunteer departments nationwide,” McGinn said.

She explained that although the shortages have been temporarily addressed by hiring part-time firefighters, the issue is complex and “needs further examination to meet future service needs in our growing community.”

McGinn said that if she is elected, she will bring to office 26 years of public safety experience, including several years of executive level management of personnel and city resources. She added that she will also bring leadership in change management and development of public and private partnerships to enhance business and community engagement, as well as 40 years of volunteer service in a variety of positions including as a board trustee for the Minnesota Zoo Foundation, an advisor for BSA Exploring, a board member for Children’s Safety Centers and a member of the Lake Elmo 2040 Comprehensive Plan Panel.

 

Election Day is Nov. 6. Lake Elmo residents who live in Precinct 1 will be able to vote at Lake Elmo Fire Hall, 3510 Laverne Ave. N., and those who live in Precinct 2 will be able to vote at Lake Elmo City Hall, 3800 Laverne Ave. N. To verify your precinct and voting location visit, www.pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us.

 

-Aundrea Kinney can be reached at 651-748-7822 or akinney@lillienews.com.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet
Comment Here