Three candidates will be unopposed on the ballot in Independence city elections on Tuesday, Nov. 5. Mayor Marvin Johnson, City Councilor Steve Grotting and City Councilor Ray McCoy are seeking repeat four-year terms that would begin in January 2020.
Voters also will have the opportunity to cast ballots for write-in candidates for Independence City Council. If Johnson, Grotting and McCoy are re-elected, the council would consist of Mayor Johnson and City Councilors McCoy, Grotting, Linda Betts and Brad Spencer.
Independence candidates were invited to submit two-part profiles and photos to this Voters Guide. The first part is a biography, and the second part is a statement about top issues facing the city and the candidate’s vision for the future of Independence. The profile has a limit of 500 words.
Following are profiles from the candidates.
I have been Mayor of Independence since 1980 and have enjoyed working with a number of different council members -- most whom have served with a passion for the betterment of the community as a whole. I very seldom miss a meeting and try to make myself available to our citizens at all times.
I meet regularly with the Northwest League of Municipalities (Hennepin County) Mayors and know all the Hennepin County Commissioners. I meet regularly with the Metropolitan Council of Mayors as well. I have served in different capacities with Metropolitan Council, Metro Cities, the League of Minnesota Cities and the National League of Cities.
I continue to do some farming and am involved with several other organizations in leadership positions.
The major issue for the city of Independence is keeping a caring, committed excellent staff that can provide the services needed for residents of the city of Independence. That includes administration, public works, public safety and fire protection, etc. At the same time, we need the appropriate tax rate that is sustainable as we grow.
In the public safety bucket, our highest priority right now is to get an appropriate solution to reconstruction of the U.S. Highway 12 and County Road 90 and 92 Intersections. We want the rebuilds to be workable for years to come, as traffic going in all directions continues to increase.
Our Comprehensive Land Use Plan has been presented to the Metropolitan Council, as required by law. We hope the council will approve our revised 10-year plan and not require us to add some unrealistic goals for housing density or affordability.
We hope to continue to collaborate with our neighboring cities and Hennepin County, if we feel shared services can be provided more timely and efficiently.
Life and Family: Age 59. Married to Karen. Four children (Nicki, 40; Steven, 36, step; Emma, 23 and Jack, 21). Business owner in Independence since 2000, resident since 2006. Central Lutheran Church, Minneapolis. Enjoys recreational property in northern Wisconsin, writing, music, horses, old buildings and anything with an engine. Traveled around the world in 1986-87. Has sailed the Pacific, Atlantic, Mediterranean, Indian, Southern, Red and Caribbean seas.
Education/ Qualifications: Graduate of Edina High School in 1978. Associate degree in Landscape Architecture (Hennepin Technical College, 1979), Bachelor of Arts in International Relations (St. Cloud State University, 1985), Realtor education since 1994, Broker education since 2002.
Business and Experience: Real Estate Broker/ Realtor 1994, business owner with Karen since 1994, Brokerage Manager for Counselor Realty 1998 – 2002. In 2013 opened Windsong Realty, located in Maple Plain and serving buyers and sellers of houses in the West Metro. Land parceling and development for owners and buyers seeking highest and best use. Windsong Realty also owns Tour Des Farms which is a bi-annual equestrian oriented tour of property for sale in the West Metro. West Hennepin Chamber of Commerce member, real estate investor/owner since 1994. Provider of work force housing in west metro.
Government and Service: Since 2015, Independence City Council Member providing guidance and support to the community through active governing. Lake Minnetonka Cable Commissioner since 2015. Highway 12 Safety Coalition member engaged in efforts to provide funding for and support of a safer Highway 12 corridor. Sensible Land Use Coalition, Department of Natural Resources lake testing volunteer (Silver Lake, Trego, Wisconsin).
I have lived in Independence for 25 years and in Maple Plain for 18 years. My bride of 45 years and I have three children and 10 grandchildren who enjoy the rural nature of our wonderful city of Independence. I worked for West Hennepin Public Safety Department for 30.5 years as a police officer with the last 13 years as Public Safety Director. I have served for 42 years on the Maple Plain Fire Department, as firefighter, assistant fire chief and fire chief, and am still an active member. Besides being an active papa I work for MnFire initiative which provides training to Minnesota fire departments for cardiac, emotional wellness and cancer awareness. I am actively involved in Maple Plain Community Church as a member and elder.
The primary function for city government is to provide the best services possible to its residents. For Independence this includes taking care of the road infrastructure, sewer infrastructure and public safety. I’m proud to say that all three areas are a priority and have long range planning to continue providing great service to our community.
The other critical issue that plagues our community is Highway 12. While the Minnesota Department of Transportation and Hennepin County have made significant progress in plans to upgrade two Highway 12 intersections, as a city we need to be vigilant in making sure that these safety improvements are for long range solutions. Other than the intersections of Highway 12/ County Road 90 and Highway 12/ County Road 92 no plans for upgrading the rest of Highway 12 are being planned. It is critical that the rest of this roadway be upgraded and that safety improvements be made.
I have enjoyed serving the citizens of Independence the last four years, and for that I thank you. I am asking for your support to serve you, the citizens, another four years. I would bring my proven and trusted leadership abilities to the council if re-elected. I have lived in Maple Plain for 18 years and in Independence for 25 years. I have a great insight of the heritage of Independence and the resulting legacy. Being raised on a dairy farm, I have great love and respect for the agriculture roots of this city. I will continue to support this legacy while embracing the changes of tomorrow. My vision for Independence includes an efficient government that collaborates with different agencies to make government work for my constituents.