By Anne Holzman
Lauderdale residents will go to the polls Nov. 3 to elect a mayor and two City Council members. The Bugle asked the candidates to discuss their experience, goals if elected and views about the demand for housing development in inner ring suburbs such as Lauderdale.
Mary Gaasch is running unopposed for another two-year term as mayor. If elected, this would mark the start of her 11th year on the council. Previously, she served two four-year terms on city council.
Gaasch said she her top priorities are addressing streets and park needs, including pedestrian access on Eustis Street. She hopes to see “a thriving little business district” develop along Larpenteur Avenue with a coffee shop and restaurant. She values ongoing work towards racial equity.
Concerning housing development, Gaasch praised citizens “advocating for the preservation of our Breck Woods,” which is a part of the Luther Seminary site under consideration for redevelopment. She said a new city conservation ordinance “will protect the woods and create a development that is an asset to our city.” (Editor’s note: More information on the Luther Seminary redevelopment project)
At the Lauderdale School site, Gaasch said, the city’s success in getting citizen feedback “has helped us craft a project that will make our city stronger, generate revenues that will reduce individual home owners’ tax burdens, and welcome new neighbors.”
Jeff Dains is running for re-election to city council. He previously served as mayor and currently represents the city on the Metropolitan Council Transportation Accessibility Committee and at the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization.
Dains said he would seek pedestrian and bike safety on Eustis Street, expand environmental programs and protect green space and parks. He wants to involve more residents in events and committees, especially newcomers.
“Lauderdale has always been committed to meeting affordable housing standards,” including plans for affordable senior housing at the Lauderdale School site, Dains said.
He said there is a potential to put multifamily housing on the southwest corner of Larpenteur Avenue and Eustis Street. “My goal would include a mix of commercial and residential construction. This would revitalize our city and increase the city’s tax base,” Dains said. He added, “In any new development we want to enhance green space.”
Duane Pulford is a first-time candidate for public office. He has served in organizations such as Dorothy Day Hospitality House in Rochester, Rochester Kennel Club, a townhouse association board and a local union.
Pulford said his priorities, if elected, would be to maintain the city’s mix of affordable housing and support the community’s diversity of blue-collar and white-collar workers.
Pulford added, “I would like more development of the retail property we have on Larpenteur Avenue. A coffee shop or a dental office or something like that for our city.”
Regarding new housing, Pulford said, “There is not much land in Lauderdale for development of multifamily housing,” but that he is not opposed to it and would consider the possibilities for it at both the Luther Seminary and Lauderdale school sites.
Anne Holzman covers Falcon Heights and Lauderdale news for the Bugle.