Washington County Board candidates share concerns

Transportation and water quality are concerns both candidates for the Washington County Board of Commissioners District 2 seat share. 

District 2 includes Birchwood, Pine Springs, Willernie, Landfall and Oakdale in addition to parts of Mahtomedi, Woodbury and White Bear Lake.

Incumbent Stan Karwoski is currently finishing up a partial term he was elected to in 2016, his first on the Washington County Board. He will be facing off against Julie Ohs, a current Woodbury City Council member finishing her third term.

The Review asked the candidates via email why they are running, what they believe the top challenges will be in District 2 in upcoming years and what project they will prioritize if elected.

 

Ohs, 56, lives in Woodbury with her husband Michael Flaherty, and holds a master’s degree in management from the University of Minnesota.

The skills and experience Ohs said she will bring to the commission, if elected, come from her experience serving on numerous boards, commissions and committees, as well as volunteer experiences with her church, Feed My Starving Children, Woodbury Days and Habitat for Humanity.

She said that she has declined partisan endorsements because the county commissioner position is non-partisan.

Ohs said she is running because she would like to continue her public service with a broader base, adding that she just wants to serve people.

“This district is unique, being comprised of eight very different cities,” Ohs said. “I would represent all cities equally and respect their unique personalities. I am committed, ethical, open-minded and engaged.”

She added, “I don’t think the status quo is good enough for District 2 and would do my best to make positive change.”

Ohs listed transportation, and water quality and quantity, as the top two challenges the county faces in upcoming years. 

She added that the Gold Line, and transportation in general, will be her top priority, if she is elected. 

“Transportation is lacking in the county and needs improvement to bring good-paying jobs to the area, to allow people to move around our cities, and to appeal to the millennials’ preference of not owning a car,” Ohs explained.

She said that station planning and funding for the Gold Line are crucial, though she added that residents have also shared their desire to still have other transportation services, like the express bus service and Metro Mobility, which could also use improvements.

With regards to water issues in the county, Ohs said, “We need to assure our future generations have an adequate source of quality water. The 3M money must be used to address the supply of safe drinking water in each affected community.”

She added, “It is not a one size fits all solution, each community should have the ability to deal with it however they see fit.”

 

Karwoski, 61, lives in Oakdale with his wife Linda Karwoski. 

He holds a bachelor’s degree in business management from Metropolitan State University, and is retired from his engineering career at Graco Inc. He said he now works solely as county commissioner.

Karwoski said that if he is re-elected, he will bring to the commission skills gained though his current experience as vice-chair of the Washington County Board, where he also has gained experience serving on the Transportation Advisory Board, the County Workforce Development Board and many other boards and committees.

He also said he would utilize his experiences as a past Oakdale mayor and council member.

Karwoski said he is running for re-election “To serve citizens for a better county and quality of life,” adding that if re-elected, he will continue the positive work he started after joining the board.

When asked about the challenges facing the county, Karwoski listed having quality employers and jobs, improved transportation and having a clean environment.

He explained that talented workers live in Washington County but work in other counties, adding that he will work to bring in top companies and jobs, and that “business growth will keep residential property taxes low.”

He also explained that he is committed to significant road improvements, listing the Hadley/Highway 36 interchange project, the interstates 694/494/94 interchange project and the Gold Line bus rapid transit line.

He also said he will work for great parks and clean water.

Karwoski said that if he is re-elected, he will prioritize the Gold Line, which “will serve the east metro and Washington County with frequent all-day service, primarily using dedicated lanes for efficient movement.”

“Working with citizens, businesses and elected leaders, we have made great progress over several years using careful planning with a goal [that] the Gold Line is completed within budget, on schedule, and is successful,” Karwoski said.

He added, “I have learned a lot as commissioner in the past two years. I would be honored to be re-elected and continue the committed and effective service I have begun. Together we can make our county even better.”

 

Election Day is Nov. 6. To verify your voting location visit, www.pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us.

 

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

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