Hennepin County Commissioner Mark Stenglein, who represents most of North and Northeast Minneapolis, says he will resign June 1 to take over leadership of the Minneapolis Downtown Council.
Stenglein said there will be a special election for county commissioner, but it will be timed to coincide with the general election Nov. 6, with the same filing and primary-election dates as the general election.
The big difference, he said, is that the winner of this election won’t have to wait until January to start work, he or she can be sworn in right away.
The county commissioner seat, he said, can stay vacant between June 1 and the election. The staff will stay on through that time, he said, and the commissioners from neighboring districts—Mike Opat and Peter McLaughlin—are “always here, for anything that would be an emergency” requiring a commissioner’s attention.
Stenglein said he was happy in his job and not looking for a change, but the Downtown Council people approached him.
“I’m passionate about the city,” he said. “This is a really wonderful opportunity.”
Among the highlights he has noted during his time in office:
“The bridge is on schedule,” he said. “We were able to save the Minneapolis library system by combining it with Hennepin County’s (system).” And the recent changes at Hennepin County Medical Center have been “a huge joy,” and have reduced the county’s financial commitments there.
He said his work as chair of the board’s Budget and Capital Investments Committee was particularly rewarding, as the county weathered “the worst recession since the Great Depression, all without massive layoffs and with a flat levy.”
And, “there’s not a better feeling” than watching the Hiawatha Line light-rail train and the Northstar line coming in to the new ball park.
Is there anything he won’t miss about the job?
“Some of the nasty phone calls,” he said.
He said he thinks a lot of people will run for the county commissioner position. “It’s a fun job,” he said. “It’s a job where you can get a lot of things done. The county does big things.”
“I’ve considered it an honor to serve the residents—to make this place a great county,” he said. “I’m not going too far…I’m looking forward to the new opportunity.”
Stenglein was first elected in 1996. “Nobody thought I’d last this long,” he said.
Elliot Jaffee, U.S. Bank Twin Cities Market President and Board Chair of the Minneapolis Downtown Council, said in a news release, “We are excited to have Mark Stenglein as the next leader for the Minneapolis Downtown Council. “He is held in high regard for his accomplishments as a Hennepin County Commissioner, reflective of his ability to build productive relationships that truly address the needs of our community. We are confident that Mark’s proven leadership skills and very engaging style will provide an outstanding foundation for bringing the organization forward.”