Mayoral, council candidates stay true to Sunfish Lake's traditions

Facing changes to its populace and housing stock, the leaders of Sunfish Lake are keeping in mind the city's traditions.

Mayor Molly Park and Sunfish Lake City Council members Mike Hovey and JoAnne Wahlstrom, all running unopposed in the Tuesday, Nov. 4 general election, say they're working to strike a balance between development and maintaining what matters to the approximately 525 residents living in the 1.7-square-mile suburb.

"Younger families are moving in, so we just want to be a vibrant community that has its own identity, but sees itself in relationship with the other communities in the metro area," Park says.

 

Molly Park

Molly Park

Park, 65, who has been in the city's top spot for a total of 10 years, is on the verge of being the longest-serving mayor of Sunfish Lake.

She is married to Bill. She earned a post-master's degree in speech pathology at Boston University, and had a career in that field.

She is the second vice president of the Minnesota Mayors Association and serves on the executive board of Metro Cities, which deals with the Metropolitan Council, the governing body of the Twin Cities region.

Parks says there are multiple projects she would like to see through, such as road repair initiatives. She says she enjoys working with residents, who tend to be very engaged.

"I believe in the community of Sunfish Lake," she says. "It's a very special place with special people."

The city newsletter and city website are important communication tools, Park says.

The city has a "rich tradition" of low-density housing, single-family homes and large, wooded lots.

With some homes being torn down, Park says it's more important than ever to represent the city's traditions while modernizing. As a small Dakota County community, Sunfish Lake also has to advocate for its needs, when it comes to regional projects with neighboring cities.

 

Wahlstrom, 66, has been involved in politics for more than 10 years in Sunfish Lake.

She served on the Planning Commission and was initially appointed to the council. She is married to John, and is self-employed as a nature and architecture photographer. She has a bachelor's degree in art.

"I have a good reputation in the community and working with people to get problems solved in the way that our laws and statutes are set up," she says.

When she first started on the Planning Commission, a proposal for a 12-story cell phone tower at Delaware Avenue and Highway 110 was introduced. With "a lot of hard work," the project ended up being a 74-foot tower near Saint Anne's Episcopal Church at Highway 110 and Charlton Road.

"It would have been a visual eyesore and would have hurt property values in Sunfish Lake," Wahlstrom says. The latter option is hidden in the center of a grove of trees.

She says the biggest issue for the city is the maintenance of its roads, considering it's a private community that doesn't receive any money from the state.

"That's always an issue with residents with assessments and trying to keep our roads safe," Wahlstrom says.

Although the city has had to add some rules about exotic pets and continues to monitor new homes to make sure they fit in with existing neighborhoods, it's a priority of the council to stay true to the city's nature, Wahlstrom says.

"I'm happy to be a part of Sunfish Lake," she says. "I want to keep this community pristine and wonderful, just like it was when I decided to move here."

 

Mike Hovey

Mike Hovey

Hovey, 51, is running for his second four-year term on the council. He is married to Margaret, and is a manager of information systems at Harris Companies.

He earned a bachelor's degree in computer science at the University of Minnesota.

Hovey says he hopes to continue to serve Sunfish Lake.

"I enjoy getting to know my fellow neighbors and citizens within the city and helping keep the city in its normal status quo that it currently is now," he says.

The city is working on culling the deer herd in Sunfish Lake. Hovey says the last aerial count of the deer was at about 60, while the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says the city should only be supporting about 15.

"It's always nice to see wildlife," he says. "(But), if you get too many in one place, it's not good for them or the human population."

As it does every year, the council has had to keep the budget in line.

"I am proud that we are keeping our property-tax increase at a nice even rate," Hovey says. "There isn't going to be a large jump this year."

Hovey says Sunfish Lake's smallness is part of its charm.

"We're really small, which is a nice quality in a city," he says. "I kind of like the look and feel for how we have our properties now and I'd like to keep that for years to come."

 

The general election polls will be open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 4. Find polling places and election information at http://pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us/. For more information, contact the county election official at 651-438-4305 or election@co.dakota.mn.us.

Kaitlyn Roby can be reached at 651-748-7815 and kroby@lillienews.com. Follow her at twitter.com/KRobyNews.
 

 


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