When Will Rossbach became Maplewood’s mayor four years ago, he asked for a new gavel - “a fresh start” -- to use during city council meetings, marking the opening and closing of each one.
In his first minutes as the former mayor on Jan. 6, Rossbach handed the same gavel as well as his key to the city to Mayor Nora Slawik, who took the oath of office moments earlier during the swearing-in ceremony at the Maplewood Community Center. But the wooden hammer was a little different -- Rossbach had three pink stripes painted on it, signifying the new, but not the first, female majority on the Maplewood City Council.
New council member Marylee Abrams and Kathleen Juenemann, who is starting her fourth term, were also sworn in at the ceremony, joining council members Marvin Koppen and Bob Cardinal.
When he heard Slawik was running for mayor, Rossbach said there was a “level of calmness that came over me.”
He said those who run should be able to accept facts and do what they think is best for the city as a whole, and should also have some experience in government.
Elected seven times to the Minnesota House of Representatives representing people in Maplewood, Oakdale and Woodbury, Slawik has “already done many things for the city of Maplewood,” Rossbach said.
Slawik, a director of education at a nonprofit organization and an adjunct faculty member at the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Policy, expressed a similar sentiment at the podium.
“We’ve come a long way in the past few years with Will’s leadership,” she said. “He brought our city back from a very difficult time. He brought it to a growth and revitalization phase.”
Economic development is part of the city’s next chapter, Slawik said, noting multi-million dollar projects in the works, such as a development at 3M.
Also important for resident’s quality of life: public safety, she said, and parks, drawing on her bachelor’s degree in parks and recreation, and her time on the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission.
With education as a priority, Slawik said that she will soon meet with the mayors of Oakdale and North St. Paul as well as the ISD 622 superintendent to talk about city-school district collaboration and possibilities for shared services.
“This is a great new beginning,” Slawik said to the crowded room.
A newcomer and a veteran
A labor and employment attorney, Abrams said she will keep the community’s interest in mind, while she learns the ropes of her public role.
“I will take to heart the oath I just gave to all of you,” she said. “I will really try to focus on what’s best for Maplewood.”
Called the “veteran” of the council with 12 years of experience and another four years ahead, Juenemann quipped she could be considered the “weathered” member, but added seriously, “I love this job.”
“Even if you didn’t vote for me, I’ll work for you one more time,” she said, after reciting the oath of office for her fourth, and what she says is her last, time. “This is a wonderful community. It is an honor to be a part of it.”
Juenemann’s father served on the Maplewood council in the 1960s, she said, when members were called trustees. She brought his nameplate to all four swearing-in ceremonies.
“If I can do half the job he did, I’m doing a wonderful job,” Juenemann added.
Officers receive badges
Chief Paul Schnell introduced five new Maplewood officers, who took the oath of office that night.
The candidates went through an intensive process, which included interview panels, a “highly intrusive” background check and various physical and medical exams, according to Schnell. He said they come very highly recommended.
Loved ones pinned badges on the uniforms of officers Zachary Schoen, Maria Mulvihill, Michael Hoemke, Parker Olding and Benjamin Slater. Schnell wished them a “storied and service-filled career.”
“The opportunity to make a difference is incredible,” Schnell said.
A third K-9 team -- Brix, a not-yet 2-year-old dog from Slovakia, and his human partner Officer Joe Demulling -- was also welcomed to the department.
Kaitlyn Roby can be reached at 651-748-7814 and firstname.lastname@example.org . Follow her at twitter.com/KRobyNews.