Scandia Mayor

Name: Christine Maefsky

Age: 75

Occupation: Farmer, Retired Educator

Previous political/community experience:

I have been Mayor of Scandia since 2017. Before that I was a member of the Scandia Planning Commission for 10 years, with 6 years as its Chair. I am currently a member of the Scandia/Marine Lions Club, on the Board of the non-profit Scandia Heritage Alliance, a member of the Welcome to Scandia Committee, and the council liaison to the Tourism Committee. I also serve as a Scandia representative on the Marine Community Library Board. 

In the past I have acted as Chair on multiple city appointed committees, been a Washington County 4-H Leader for 15+ years, served on Student Programs Advisory Boards for 20 years, and was a supportive PTO parent of four children who went through 6th grade at Scandia Elementary School.

What is the biggest issue facing Scandia in the next few years and how would you deal with it?

There are several priorities in Scandia. Improving reliable, fast, citywide internet is critical. With the educational, medical, and work restrictions placed on us by COVID19, the need is greater than ever. I will continue to support current efforts and look to seek new solutions. Frontline strategies that we are employing include partnering with Midco for grants and working with Frontier to remove caps, giving more residents improved access.

Also important is to continue the momentum we built during my previous terms to accelerate bringing our roads up to high quality standards. We have recently employed a firm to help the city prioritize and fiscally manage projects, including roadwork.  

A third priority is continuing to attract businesses that support the small-town rural character of our community. During my terms as Mayor we have added several such businesses, have started an Economic Development Authority, and a Tourism Committee to encourage more.

What do you think you would offer to the city if you were to be elected?

Having been a resident of Scandia for 48 years, and having my children and grandchildren still living here, I offer my vision for the future of Scandia that is consistent with what residents, through 2040 Comprehensive Plan surveys said they wanted.  I am committed to seeing that Scandia remains the welcoming, environmentally respectful, small-town community its residents love. 

I also offer my 48 years of successful business ownership with its lessons of the importance of fiscal responsibility. 

And I have over 14 years of experience in working various official capacities with residents, businesses, and civic groups to further the betterment of the city. I listen to all sides; putting all residents of Scandia first while tackling difficult issues with transparency, civility and fairness. I am inclusive and I listen, seeking diverse opinions on issues that affect the city in order to do what’s best for the city and its residents.

 

Name: Randall F. Simonson

Age: 58

Occupation: Retired Veteran

Previous political/community experience: I am native to Scandia, a retired Air Force veteran, with proven leadership experience.  Served on the Scandia Fire Department in my younger years and also served as Chairman of the Forest Lake Cable Commission and Mayor of Scandia for 3 terms totaling 6 years.

What is the biggest issue facing Scandia in the next few years and how would you deal with it?  

I will be inclusive of all citizens with a focus on the near and long term sustainability of the community.  The citizens here have made large personal investments in the community.  I will work to protect their investments. Property values need to be protected and there are ways to do that.  Businesses have invested in this community and I want to protect them and encourage other essential businesses to come to Scandia. Many people in Scandia are frustrated by a lack of services and a past ‘Unwelcome’ sign on our community.   We need to ask why do people leave Scandia, and why are businesses not coming here? I also believe that taxpayers shouldn’t be put on the hook for pet projects, for special interest groups or lobbyists. I would take a much more active approach as mayor to sustain the future of the elementary school.

What do you think you would offer to the city if you were to be elected? 

I am a person that works to be above reproach, faithful, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable and able to communicate and learn from others.  Learning from others is crucial to having a greater understanding when making difficult decisions. The elementary school is a vital part of this community’s future.  The city must take a much more proactive stance to keep enrollment strong here.  With strong enrollment, property values are also strong.   Young home buyers look for strong school districts.  They will not buy in one that has a questionable future.   This means helping with the achievement of affordable housing which has been discouraged.  The fear tactic of growth being bad for Scandia has only held Scandia back.  That time is over.  Scandia is and will continue to be a rural community.  But it needs and deserves a new direction.  It’s time for Scandia to welcome young families and essential businesses.  

Scandia Council

[Editor’s note: Christopher Johnson did not submit a questionnaire response by press deadline.]

Name: Greg Amundson

Age: 60

Occupation:  I am self employed and am the founder and owner of Lutsen Lodges Vacation Homes and also InstaTrim Products.  I  invented our InstaTrim Products and have 5 patents on our designs.

Previous political/community experience:  

I have been on the Planning Commission for over two years.  I also have over 30 years of construction experience and have a very good understanding of roads, septic systems, general construction and watershed issues.  I also graduated from UW – Madison where my studies focused on city planning under Dr. Grasscamp who was known for his creative and progressive city planning concepts.

What is the biggest issue facing Scandia in the next few years and how would you deal with it?  

We badly need housing for seniors and young families and also locations for new businesses to come to Scandia.  We need to attract more business to the area to increase tax revenue.  I would like to see high quality small business coming to Scandia which will require all the above.  We also have at least two community septic systems that are failing and/or at capacity which will limit growth in the future.

What do you think you would offer to the city if you were to be elected? 

I enjoy working with people especially in a problem solving scenario.  I like to get out and have a “first hand” understanding of issues and problems.  I feel that I’m easy to talk to and a good listener.  Also my past education has given me some great tools to think “outside the box” in planning for Scandia’s future growth without jeopardizing our heritage and traditions.

 

Name: Heather Benson

Age: 49

Occupation: Attorney (Washington County Attorney’s Office, 1998-2012; Dakota County Attorney’s Office, 2012-present)

Previous political/community experience: Woodbury Crime Prevention and Public Safety Board, 1999-2004

What is the biggest issue facing Scandia in the next few years and how would you deal with it?

The biggest challenge will be growing our tax base, which is essential for the city to provide services and improvements that are needed to infrastructure, while maintaining the rural, river town charm that is Scandia.  This will require thoughtful planning. If we want more families, we need to have affordable housing options.  I would like to see more small businesses that service this community.  Scandia residents often leave Scandia to spend their money.  Scandia has much to offer residents and visitors, and has the potential to be a tourist destination.  The opening of the Rustic Roots Winery was a great start!  We need to build on what we have to encourage this city to thrive, without sacrificing the safety and security that drew many of us here to begin with.  I would like to hear from residents, learn how they envision their community, and then work towards that vision.

What do you think you would offer to the city if you were to be elected?

I have been a criminal prosecutor for 23 years.  Therefore I am trained to gather facts, analyze them, and then make my decision.  I am accustomed to making hard decisions, and painfully aware that “government” cannot always please everyone. I plan to live in Scandia for the rest of my life, and am invested in the prosperity and the quality of life in this community.  I will not make any promises at this point, except the promise to make my decisions based on the facts, fairness, and the best interests of Scandia.

 

Name: Steve Kronmiller

Age: 62

Occupation: Construction Manager

Previous political/community experience:

 Scandia City Council Member (4 years)

 Scandia Economic Development Authority (4 years)

 Scandia Capital Improvement Committee (2 years)

 Citizens Committee on the Log House Landing (1 year)

 Carnelian-Marine Watershed District (12 years)

 Forest Lake Community Ed Youth Soccer Coach (6 years)

 Forest Lake Drumline Parent Group (8 years)

 Brooklyn Park Community Organizations (5 years)

 Brooklyn Park Planning Commissioner (3 years)

Certificates and Awards:

Scandia Good Neighbor Award for founding the Internet Focus Group

Honorary Commodore Award for Public Service from the Minneapolis Aquatennial

Certificate in Leadership from the North Hennepin Community College Leadership Academy

Project Management Professional certification from the International Project Management Institute

What is the biggest issue facing Scandia in the next few years and how would you deal with it?

Half of Scandia has access to great internet, the other half has terrible, or no internet at all.

I started the “Internet for All” effort three years ago. The goal was to ensure every home and business has access to reliable, high-speed internet. I have networked with people across Scandia, elected representatives, and leaders from other communities across the state. I also carefully track the state of internet in Scandia for all to see at the ScandiaInternet.com website.

I am committed to keeping the cost to Scandia taxpayers low. To do this we will using reasonably sized Federal and State grants and individual contributions.

I will continue to work with the Council, the Internet Action Committee, MidCo, and other providers to expand internet in Scandia. I am confident, by working together, we will achieve our goal of delivering high quality internet to everyone in Scandia.

What do you think you would offer to the city if you were to be elected?

I am a transparent, ethical, communicator, and servant of the people. I work hard and fight for the benefit of the entire community. 

Some of my goals include:

Continuing internet expansion efforts until every home and business in Scandia is served.

Establishing new zoning districts to support residential and historic neighborhoods.

Expanding support for existing businesses and attracting new businesses.

Establishing appropriate funding levels for critical services like sewer and water.

Getting all our roads repaired and keeping them maintained without costly tax increases.

Creating life cycle housing opportunities to attract young families and people looking to downsize.

Working on the City Council means establishing respect and finding balance. It means working together with other Council members, our Commissions, our Committees, our businesses, and our residents.

 

Name:James Gribble

Age:56

Occupation: Peace Officer, retiring early 2021, Retired from the US Coast Guard 2017.

Previous political/community experience: 

As a Peace Officer serving the community, I did not feel it proper to hold office where I worked. However, for decades I have intimately worked with many residents and understand their needs and concerns. This is not to say I was not active in service.  In 2006 I received a Federal appointment and served eight years on the Area Maritime Security Committee, the last two years as Chair. This committee oversaw the disbursement of federal assistance to local Police, Fire, and EMS organizations as well as coordinating regional training aimed at mitigating all hazards.  

I also served three years on the board of Directors for Wacouta Caer, a public/ private non-profit organization focused on being ready and able to respond to environmental disasters in the Washington and Dakota County region.

Finally, I volunteer with a lake association cleaning up picnic sites, spring hatchery work, and educational outreach.

What is the biggest issue facing Scandia in the next few years and how would you deal with it?

I see three areas, all equally important:  

Properly channeling the growth that is coming,  ensuring that Scandia does not lose its character and rural freedoms that brought residents here in the first place. Many values and family traditions are predicated on open spaces and the ability for outdoor activities. Growth will and should occur, but we need to be cognizant of the impact it will have on our current residents.

Recognizing that we have neglected or need to improve many aspects of our infrastructure and services.  Access to reliable internet has gained attention, but I also feel the Cities regional septic systems need attention and stable long term plans for their maintenance. Lastly with 4,000 people, Scandia needs to recognize the growing need for Fire and EMS Services 

Scandia must operate within budget and that additional amenities should be carefully weighed when expending taxpayer dollars.

 What do you think you would offer to the city if you were to be elected?

I have been in public service my entire life and can say that I probably learned something new every day. Serving the Coast Guard and also with Washington County has given me a chance to work with many jurisdictions not just in Minnesota, but across the US. I learned much in the process and offer Scandia my experiences and know-how to get things done. I have been a supervisor and am skilled with budgeting, project management and planning. More importantly, I listen to people and strive to keep on open mind, always respecting the diverse opinions, background, and needs people have. 

I strive to keep Scandia the rural gem it is knowing this requires a continuous balancing act between many interests.

I will do my best to serve all of Scandia.

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