UPDATED 2/16/2011 (see correction note below)—With the new Governor’s term comes a new Metropolitan Council. The body, which oversees transit, utilities, and urban planning is made up representatives from sixteen districts across the Twin Cities metro area, who serve four year terms. The entire Met Council is appointed by the governor. The Governor’s Nominating Committee nominates candidates for the governor’s consideration, as prescribed by statute.
Twenty-five applicants for four districts in the East Metro – primarily Ramsey and Washington counties – appeared at public interviews on Thursday, Feb 10.
Those who are chosen to sit on the Met Council will serve the body at a critical time of increasing infrastructure needs and very tight funding. The Met Council’s budget goes primarily to the operation of Metro Transit, but the body also oversees all infrastructure development in the Twin Cities – including highways, water, and sewer.
The candidates include suburban mayors, environmental activists, former state legislators, an army major, community activists, and small business owners. Each had four minutes to make a case, followed by questions form the panel.
District 11 Paul Gaston, Jeff Reinert, Sandra Rummel, Mary Vidas, Lee Pao Xiong
District 12 Sherry Broecker, Jeff Heegaard, Louis King, Michael Madigan, Harry Melander, Myra Peterson, True Thao, Mary Vogel
District 13 Rick Aguilar, Richard Cardenas, Jack Ditmore, Richard Kramer, Bert McKasy, Gary Pagel, Molly Park, Fred Perez
District 14 Matthey Bailey, Jay Benanav, Jon Commers, J. Kyle Makarios
The Governor’s Nominating Committee
Each applicant was asked three questions – why did you apply, what is your vision for the Met Council, and how would you work to improve connections to local governments?
“It’s frightening, you just put yourself out there and hope for the best,” said Fred Perez, who hopes for a chance to represent District 13 (Eastern Saint Paul) again after an eight-year break. He is driven to go through this process by a clear vision of what is needed. “We face tremendous challenges as we bring LRT to University Avenue. These are more than businesses, these are people’s lives, their freedom, and we have to make sure we support that even as we move forward to provide the transit we need to connect things up.”
Perez’s vision was not that different from the other applicants, although his emphasis was more typical of the two urban districts up that evening. All the applicants stressed the need for increased visibility for the council, a strong commitment to guide and assist cities, development of critical infrastructure, protection of resources, and connection of the region.
“The Met Council needs to be more inclusive and more effective,” said Sherry Broeker in her pitch for the District 12 seat from Washington County. Broeker is a current Met Council member, appointed by Governor Tim Pawlenty, and is seeking re-appointment.
All of the applicants saw their primary role as much more than approving metro-wide master plans, the main function of the Met Council itself. A two-way dialogue between local government and the residents was discussed in as much detail as each applicant could squeeze into the allotted time.
The committee that heard the four hours of testimony will recommend two finalists to Governor Dayton by March 1. The final decision is entirely up to the Governor to make at his discretion.
The next meeting of the Governor’s Nominating Committee for the Met Council is on Wednesday, February 16, 6:30 p.m., at Prior Lake City Hall, 4646 Dakota St. S.E. for southwestern metro area districts and Thursday, February 17 at Brooklyn Park City Hall, 5200 85th Ave. N., Brooklyn Park for northwestern districts. Minneapolis and other western district candidates were interviewed on February 9.
Paragraph 1: The Governor’s Nominating Committee nominates candidates for the governor’s consideration, as prescribed by statute.
Paragraph 8: Broeker is a current Met Council member, appointed by Governor Tim Pawlenty, and is seeking re-appointment.