Voters guide: Meet the Lauderdale City Council and mayoral candidates

Lauderdale residents will vote for mayor and two city council seats. Lauderdale City Council member Mary Gaasch, whose seat runs through 2018, is running unopposed for mayor. Jeffrey Dains, Daniel Gumnit and Kelly Dolphin are running for the two open seats on the council. If Gaasch is elected mayor, the council will appoint someone to fill her open seat on the council.

 

Jeffrey Dains

Jeffrey Dains

 Jeffrey Dains has lived in Lauderdale for 31, serving as mayor of the City of Lauderdale for 25 of those years. He works as a staff representative for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Top three issues facing Lauderdale: Green sustainability—Create better and safer pedestrian walkways and cyclist lanes on the Eustis Street corridor between Larpenteur and Como; protect and if possible increase green open spaces and parks; and expand environmental programs to include disposal of hazardous and bulky items such as appliances.

Social sustainability—encourage residents to become involved with city events and committees so that all residents feel included in our city, particularly new residents; make sure we have affordable housing; and create more Neighborhood Watch groups to welcome new residents.

Economic sustainability—look at ways to expand our tax base through new commercial/industrial development and continue to work on a budget that provides good public services.

How do you feel about Lauderdale residents’ relationships with the St. Anthony Police Department and what changes would you like to see in how the department polices the community? Would you consider contracting with a different police department? I believe we have a good relationship with the police, but recent tragic events have led the city to form a working group with residents and police to evaluate and make any necessary changes to police training and policies, such as body cameras, the use of direct force and implicit bias. Any changes to a contract would occur only with substantial input from our residents through numerous public hearings and a very transparent process involving the residents.

How can the city encourage development along the Larpenteur Avenue corridor and what types of businesses would benefit the city? The city has purchased one property on Larpenteur Avenue with the idea that we can encourage further redevelopment on the corridor between Eustis Street and Highway 280. This also allows the city to sell this property to the types of businesses that will be used by our residents and make the area more attractive. Also, the city can work with Ramsey County to make the current area more green and vibrant, which would attract more commercial businesses.

What is your priority for meeting infrastructure needs in Lauderdale? The main priority for infrastructure is to work with [Ramsey] County to rebuild Eustis Street (which is a county road) making sure there is a new surface and any improvements to the sewer lines and storm water system.

 

Kelly Dolphin

Kelly Dolphin

Kelly Dolphin is an immigration and criminal defense attorney who grew up in Lauderdale and moved back after attending college and law school. She serves as treasurer on the board of directors for MORE, a local nonprofit that assists immigrants with basic needs, advocacy and English classes.

 

Top three issues facing Lauderdale: I will identify the most effective response to our community’s concern regarding our contract with the St. Anthony Police Department. I’d like to engage residents on both the north and south sides of Larpenteur to discuss what would be best for developing business at the corner of Eustis and Larpenteur. I will work on creating safer accessibility to public transit from our homes by installing sidewalks and bike lanes.

 

How do you feel about Lauderdale residents’ relationships with the St. Anthony Police Department and what changes would you like to see in how the department polices the community? Would you consider contracting with a different police department? Since I was a little kid, my experiences with the St. Anthony Police Department have always been positive. However, I know there are people in our community whose confidence in our local law enforcement has been questioned after the fatal shooting [of Philando Castile] in July. Implicit bias has become a part of our city’s conversation, and St. Anthony Police Department and city staff agree that implicit bias training will be an effective response to these concerns. I agree, but I also think we need to ensure that this training is ongoing for our police force. There is not yet qualitative evidence regarding how effective or durational implicit bias training is and there are several factors that would weigh heavily on its effect, including the provider of the training.

I do not think contracting with a different department is a necessary or effective response to our concerns. While I understand that we have community events in which our police officers are available to interact with our residents, I’d like to take a harder look at which parts of our population are more inclined to attend those events and why other members of our community are not so we can create change. I think it is important to focus on the relationship between our residents and our police and build a sense of trust between all members of our community and the people who serve to protect us.

 

How can the city encourage development along the Larpenteur Avenue corridor and what types of businesses would benefit the city? Lauderdale is in a unique location with several bus routes running through and near it. People traveling from Falcon Heights into Minneapolis pass through what could develop into a small-business district for Lauderdale. A coffeehouse would benefit Lauderdale for a number of reasons. First of all, there is no competition in the proximity of that intersection. Second, people can easily stop on their bus route to grab a quick cup. Finally, this can be a meeting space that links the south and north sides of Lauderdale, which our community could potentially use to host events and also drive business for the potential owner. We can encourage development in the Larpenteur corridor by making access to the intersection of Eustis and Larpenteur safer and improving the surface of Eustis.

 

What is your priority for meeting infrastructure needs in Lauderdale? If elected, I will prioritize the condition of our roads and develop safer routes for pedestrians and bicyclists to make access to public transportation safe and simple. This could include re-routing bike and pedestrian traffic to some of our less-traveled streets and installing bike lanes and sidewalks to give safe options for people traveling to our local bus stops. I will work with Ramsey County to resolve the dangers posed by the condition of Eustis to pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers. It is a main thoroughfare riddled with blind spots, an uneven street surface and insufficient room for two vehicles to pass each other and it needs to be fixed.

 

Mary Gaasch

Mary Gaasch

Mary Gaasch has lived in Lauderdale since 2003 and is serving her second term on the City Council. She has served as mayor pro tempore since 2014. Gaasch is a program director with the nonprofit Hammer Residences. She serves as an advocate for the City of Lauderdale on a variety of boards, including the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization.

 

Top three issues facing Lauderdale: 1. Green City—working to make our city sustainable and resilient as we prepare to meet the challenges of climate change. Improving our dog park and tackling invasive species.

  1. Safe city—We join the national conversation about making sure policing meets the needs of our citizens. We are collaborating with St. Anthony Village and Falcon Heights to develop implicit bias training, the use of body cameras and to have a citizen’s commission.
  2. Thriving city—We work toward economic development to bring a vital and vibrant downtown to Eustis and Larpenteur.

 

How do you feel about Lauderdale residents’ relationships with the St. Anthony Police Department and what changes would you like to see in how the department polices the community? Would you consider contracting with a different police department? We held a listening session with our residents to hear about their feelings about our police department. Our citizens have reported a high measure of satisfaction with the St. Anthony Police Department and their service to our community. Our residents also requested that our police department do more data collection on demographics, undergo more training about implicit bias and de-escalation, and use body cameras. We are working to implement these ideas with a citizen’s task force. As a city, we are continually evaluating all of our contracts for quality and we will continue to evaluate this contract.

 

How can the city encourage development along the Larpenteur Avenue corridor and what types of businesses would benefit the city? We have worked with a consultant who helped us invest in design and pedestrian-friendly walkways along Larpenteur and Eustis. Everyone would love to see a coffee shop or an ice cream store and to have businesses we could walk to. We wish we could have a satellite branch of Tim and Tom’s Speedy Market!

 

What is your priority for meeting infrastructure needs in Lauderdale? Working with the county to turn Eustis Street into a safe, multi-modal passageway for citizens and visitors.

 

 

Daniel Gumnit

Daniel Gumnit

Daniel Gumnit has lived in Lauderdale for 25 years. He is CEO of People Serving People,

a comprehensive shelter for homeless children and their families. He has served as chairman of the City of Lauderdale Comprehensive Plan Task. Gumnit is currently a Humphrey Public Policy Fellow at the University of Minnesota.

 

Top three issues facing Lauderdale: Next year the City of Lauderdale will create a new comprehensive plan that establishes the vision for our community. This plan sets the community’s priorities for the next decade and charts the path on many important issues, including public safety, housing, sustainability, service delivery, and community and economic development. I want to engage with the community to ensure that the plan is progressive, sustainable and reflects the interests of the citizens of our city. The comprehensive plan will answer the questions, “What is our vision for the future of Lauderdale?” and “In what kind of community do we want to live?”

Lauderdale efficiently shares city services with its neighboring larger municipalities, in the future Lauderdale will need to work hard to sustainably and equitably deliver quality city services and provide public safety.

Finally, economic development will be important to maintain the city’s tax base. Lauderdale will need to find creative approaches to promote commercial development along its Larpenteur corridor.

 

How do you feel about Lauderdale residents’ relationships with the St. Anthony Police Department and what changes would you like to see in how the department polices the community? Would you consider contracting with a different police department? Many people in Lauderdale have expressed a positive view of how the department polices our community. Residents have also expressed major concerns about the recent tragic shooting in our community, the disproportionate use of force against minorities across the country and the killing of the police officers in Dallas. Residents would like to see improved relationships between the police and everyone in all of our communities. They recognize that we are part of an important national conversation on implicit bias, structural racism and violence.

I support Lauderdale’s participation in multicity efforts to address bias in policing, promote the use of body cameras and build bridges in the community. My hope is that we be able to make real progress addressing our concerns with the current department.

 

How can the city encourage development along the Larpenteur Avenue corridor and what types of businesses would benefit the city? Economic development along the Larpenteur corridor should be a focus of this year’s comprehensive planning process. The city already owns property along the Larpenteur, which gives us the opportunity to creatively work with potential businesses. I have heard from residents that they are hoping to see a food, coffee or other related business that would help to create a community gathering space.

 

What is your priority for meeting infrastructure needs in Lauderdale? In the short term my priority would be to focus on resolving the issues with Eustis Street, which is a county-owned road and is in desperate need of resurfacing and storm sewer improvements. In the longer term, I would focus on sustainability and planning for the effects of climate change on key infrastructure systems, such as storm-water management.

 

    1 Response

    1. Stu

      Anybody not have the demo/ socialist thoughts on everything. Not e everyone’s thoughts are on raising taxes to make everything “beautiful”for the Comrades of Mn

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