Hennepin County District 1 Commissioner Mike Opat announced he will not seek re-election in November. Opat has served his district, which comprises 160,000 people living in Crystal, New Hope, Robbinsdale, Brooklyn Park, Brooklyn Center and Osseo, since 1993.
“It’s been a great honor to hold this office,” said Opat in a release. “To say I’ve been proud to represent the District 1 cities would be an understatement. This district is home to the extended Opat family, many new Americans and lifelong suburban residents.”
Opat was elected to the board nine times, and served as chair 2001-2003 and 2009-2014. Locally, he lobbied for the war monument at Victory Memorial Drive in Robbinsdale; the construction of the Brookdale and Brooklyn Park libraries; reconstruction of Highway 100 though Robbinsdale and Brooklyn Center; and relieved oil train traffic through Crystal and Robbinsdale.
The commissioner said though there will always be some issue coming to the board, like a big infrastructure project or human service need, that he will want to be part of, but he had decided that he had a “desire to do something else” before he retires.
“This is as good a time as any,” he said. “I think it’s time.”
Opat helped create the Hennepin Youth Sports Program, grants from which municipal park projects are funded each year. He was a proponent of the official stadium for the Minnesota Twins baseball team, Target Field.
Other notable projects completed during his tenure include social services like Better Together Hennepin, which provides greater access to services for young people to reduce teen pregnancy and the Domestic Abuse Service Center, which gives legal assistance to victims of abuse.
Opat is also a longtime advocate of the proposed Bottineau light rail extension. He said in an interview that, despite some “changeover,” he is not worried that the future board will continue the momentum to get the extension completed.
“The board is resolved, and I’m confident my successor will be resolved that there needs to be light rail,” Opat said. “It would be a disservice to our district not to be.”
He lives in Robbinsdale with his wife and three children. Opat was previously a supervisor at the Hennepin Adult Corrections Facility in Plymouth.
“Although it’s been a privilege to serve as Commissioner, the time is right for me to move on to new challenges,” Opat said.