Issues Facing Eden Prairie
Responses to the League of Women Voters Candidate Questionnaire
Please list your name and candidate website, and briefly summarize your personal and professional background.
– 26 years on the Eden Prairie City Council, 4 years as Mayor
– 40+ year resident of Eden Prairie
– Retired Eden Prairie Schools’ teacher and adjunct college psychology professor – 33 years
– Currently employed at UnitedHealth Group as Director of Operational Effectiveness for the Optum Financial Team
– Married to Kathie Case who is the President of the Eden Prairie Historical Society
– 4 adult children who graduated from Eden Prairie Schools and 5 grandchildren
– Doctorate in Leadership, Masters in Counseling/Psychology, BA in Education
If you could accomplish just one major thing during your term in office, what would you want that to be, and why?
Expand the positive trajectory Eden Prairie is currently on with its strong tax base, low taxes, incredible park and trail system, connected and engaged community, amazingly high resident and business quality of life survey scores, and “best in class” public safety police and fire departments.
What recommendation, if any, from the Race Equity Report prepared for the city in 2021 deserves the council’s highest attention?
We need to continue the work of partnering with all of our diverse communities to build connections, ensure equity and inclusion initiatives are strengthened, and improve our hiring practices by proactively building relationships earlier in the pipeline.
The city has been enacting 2020 task force recommendations to create more affordable housing. Would you favor staying the course, slowing those efforts, or accelerating those activities? Why?
Affordable living units occupied by people who have salaries in the $40,000 – $70,000 range are in short supply across the metropolitan area. This is not just an Eden Prairie issue, but it is one that every southwest suburban community needs to address in order to keep the region economically strong and safe. Our new Inclusive Housing policy is a great step in the right direction that will allow police officers, teachers, and City staff to have the opportunity to live in our community.
The Eden Prairie City Council adopted a Climate Action Plan in March 2020, with the overall goal of achieving community-wide carbon neutrality by 2050. Do you support this plan? What changes in this approach would you favor, if any?
This was a critical campaign pledge of mine in 2018 that is one of my three proudest accomplishments of my first term. We are the first city in Minnesota to have a goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, a goal of all electric fleet vehicles by 2030, and the first Minnesota city to purchase electric police cars within the past year. If EV cars and trucks continue to become more available in all vehicle types, I would like to see the City accelerate the transition to an all-electric fleet. Additionally, I’d like to see the City incentivize our business community to place solar panels on all flat rooftops over the next decade.
In your view, do Eden Prairie residents currently receive a level of city services that is too low, too high, or about right compared to the amount of city property taxes they pay? What changes, if any, would you make in this area?
According to our resident surveys, our high-quality services relative to our low City taxes receive high scores and positive comments. We should continue to aggressively pursue efficiencies, new technologies, and work to maintain our phenomenal City cadre of employees who are truly the best in class.
City council members need to collaborate in order to get things done. What role should the mayor play in promoting council member collaboration, and how and where have you demonstrated the kind of collegial and collaborative skills that get things done?
It’s critical for the Mayor to ensure that the City Council operates in a functional, positive, and collegial fashion. That does not mean unanimity of philosophy, opinions, or perspectives. In fact, the public is well-served when there are diverse opinions being shared and acted upon. But it does mean maintaining a healthy respect for each other as servants of the public. From my 33 years of running classrooms through to my current role as a corporate facilitator in conjunction with my mayoral duties, I’m very proud of the intelligence, hard work, and energy demonstrated by the current five City Council elected officials who have represented the people of Eden Prairie over the last several years.