Meet Oakdale's mayoral and council candidates

Voters will have nine to choose from Nov. 4

Oakdale has a slate of six candidates vying for two spots on the city council and three hoping to claim the open mayoral seat.

Council members Stan Karwoski and Paul Reinke will face off in a three-way mayoral race with newcomer Marty Jurgensen. Longtime mayor Carmen Sarrack is not seeking another term.

Incumbent council member Lori Pulkrabek hopes to retain her seat on the council. She and five other candidates will compete for the two available spots on the council. Those candidates are: Kristen Cici, Mark Landis, Jon Mast Jr., Bill Rasmussen and Peter Wetzels.

Council member Kent Dotas did not file for re-election.

Mayoral candidates

Marty Jurgenson

Marty Jurgenson

Marty Jurgensen, 46, is married to Eva Jurgensen. He has a bachelor's degree in urban studies and political science from Augsburg College. Jurgensen works as a teacher and coach at Skyview Middle School and is an on-call firefighter and EMT for the Oakdale Fire Department.

He also serves as vice-chair of the city's planning commission.  Prior to his current positions, he worked in community development and planning for the cities of St. Paul, Shoreview and Woodbury for over 20 years.

"I have immense passion for the area, and I believe I can translate that into a better future for the city," he said.

Jurgensen said, if elected mayor, he would meet with the city administrator and finance director to assess the fiscal "state of the city" and determine needs versus wants. He would then meet with the council to formulate an action plan with the goal of maintaining or improving services while keeping taxes flat. He added he would like to form a financial partnership with local schools and businesses to get kids better involved with the entire community.

Jurgensen says the biggest issue facing Oakdale currently is balancing economic development versus neighborhood revitalization.

"I would envision making neighborhood investments through beautification, private investment and economic assistance thus giving potential businesses the incentive to locate here."

 

Stan Karwoski

Stan Karwoski

Incumbent Stan Karwoski, 57, is married to Linda Karwoski. He has a bachelor's degree in business management from Metropolitan State University and works as a principle designer for Graco Inc. He is currently in his fourth term on the city council.

Karwoski has also served on the city's planning and parks commissions, the 622 Education Foundation Board, the Oakdale Fire Department Relief Board, and in other volunteer roles.

He says his 37 years in engineering development and 14 years as a city councilman qualify him to be Oakdale's next mayor. Karwoski said a top priority for both mayor and council should always be to protect and serve the residents of Oakdale. He said the council should push for level annual city budgets and property taxes.

"Our budget evaluates all items each year for merit. If something is not working we fix it or drop it," Karwoski said. "We must have a prudent budget that provides opportunity to improve our city each year."

As mayor, Karwoski said he would focus on crime reduction. To combat the crime problem, he would take a two-pronged approach. First focus on programming to employ teens to prepare them for adulthood and keep them out of trouble. The second initiative would be "getting ahead of the problem as our city ages."

"These improvements will be both in business areas and neighborhoods. Each area of our city will need different approaches to be successful," he said.

 

Paul Reinke

Paul Reinke

Paul Reinke, 56, is married to Carol Reinke. He has a bachelor's degree in business administration from Mankato State University. He is the owner of the Oakdale-based Silver Oak Development, Inc. Reinke is in the middle of his third term on the city council.

He says his experience representing the city in broad leadership roles, along with his over 30 years business management experience make him qualified to be mayor. He has served on the School District 622 Levy Renewal Committee, and is Oakdale's representative on the Gateway Corridor Commission, which addresses the east metro's transportation needs.

As mayor, Reinke said top budget priorities would include -- maintaining and enhancing neighborhoods, both residential and commercial; having well-equipped and trained police and fire departments; and "low and reasonable taxes and fees."

He said a big issue facing Oakdale is being able to continue providing "outstanding public services" in an affordable manner -- to include policing, fire protection, EMT services, parks, streets, water, sewer and community development.

"Addressing the challenge includes having an engaged council, city employees and commissions working towards common goals, keeping the lid on expense growth, engaging the residents, being efficient and creative with our resources, developing additional partnerships for shared services and growing the city's tax base with high quality companies and jobs," Reinke said.

Council candidates

Kristin Cici

Kristin Cici

Kristin Cici, 30, is married to Phil Cici. She has completed everything but her dissertation for a Ph.D. in evaluation from the University of Minnesota. She has a master's degree in advocacy and leadership and a bachelor's degree in psychology and political science from the University of Minnesota.  Cici owns three businesses: The Woof Room, Deckci Décor and Tierra Encantada.

She says her combination of entrepreneurship and evaluation background would be an asset to the city council.

"Having run several successful businesses, I am experienced in making tough decisions to ensure success and meet long-term goals - particularly with budgeting," she said. "My evaluation experience provided me with the knowledge of how to evaluate whether programs or policies are effective in meeting their outcomes and worth and cost."

Cici says a priority for her on the council would be to evaluate the city's current spending and outcome achievement. She says it's important to keep property taxes at or below inflation levels, but equally important to keep the city's infrastructure from deteriorating, so that it remains attractive and will attract new businesses and families.

"I am well-versed in reviewing programs and policies to ensure they are effective," Cici said.

She believes the biggest issue facing Oakdale is the development and growth of the city and says attracting young families will ensure positive growth in Oakdale. She would also like to improve blighted areas in the city.

 

Mark Landis

Mark Landis

Mark Landis, 54, is married to Kris Landis. He has a bachelor's degree from St. Cloud State University and is a self-employed financial professional in Minneapolis.

Landis is the chair of the city's economic development commission, which he has served on since 1995. He has served on a number of subcommittees while on the commission that have addressed development and redevelopment, the city's comprehensive plan and other initiatives. He is the former president of the 916 Education Foundation and the current chair of the Washington County Housing Redevelopment Authority.

Landis says a top budget priority as a council member would be to maintain Oakdale's AA credit rating, and continue to make sure that city services and amenities are "perceived to be of value to the residents of Oakdale."

He says some of the current issues facing the city that need to be addressed are: hiring a new city administrator, continuing to promote and attract new businesses with good paying jobs and retention of current businesses, re-development, neighborhood revitalization, safe neighborhoods and public safety. He said he would also like to see more partnerships with neighboring cities, a continued relationship with the North St. Paul-Oakdale-Maplewood School District and a continued effort to address quality of life issues facing residents.

 

Jon Mast Jr., 32, is married to Heather Mast. He has a bachelor's degree in marketing communications from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and is the owner of Gator's Liquor in Oakdale.

He has lived in Oakdale since childhood and opened Gator's with his wife in 2007. Mast says he wants to bring his experiences of growing up in Oakdale and owning and operating a small business to the city council.

If elected, he said his top budget priorities would be: supporting public safety through the police and fire departments; supporting public works' efforts of maintaining roads, parks and other public areas; balancing the budget and keeping taxes low.

He also sees redevelopment as a key issue.

"I think the Tanner's Lake project has been a challenging issue. I would continue working with the city planner and developers to come up with a concrete plan to develop this site."

 

Lori Pulkrabek

Lori Pulkrabek

Incumbent Lori Pulkrabek, 42, is divorced. She has a bachelor's degree in marketing, communications and psychology from the University of Minnesota. Pulkrabek is a marketing and communications coordinator at North Suburban Access Corporation. She has served on the city council for 15 years.

"I have had the honor of serving on the Oakdale City council for the past four terms," she said. " This has provided valuable experience in all aspects of city government."

She says she also provides a valuable and unique perspective to the council with her background in marketing and communications.

When asked why she is seeking another term, she said, "I love living in Oakdale, and I'd like to continue to contribute in making our community desirable for our residents and businesses."

A top priority for Pulkrabek is a responsible budget. She says she would continue to seek a balance between keeping low taxes and providing quality services and amenities. Pulkrabek says that as the city's housing stock ages, it's important to have a plan to ensure strong and safe neighborhoods.

"In the next four years, I'll support the implementation of a new neighborhood preservation and enhancement initiative."

She said the program would examine Oakdale's current housing stock and develop "an action plan to ensure livability and long-term strength of our city's neighborhoods."

 

Bill Rasmussen

Bill Rasmussen

Bill Rasmussen, 78, is married to Dianne Rasmussen. He is a graduate of St. Paul's Washington High School and completed a one-year construction technician course from the University of Wisconsin. He worked as a civil engineering senior managing technician for 40 years for BRW Inc, and is now retired.

Rasmussen has 16 years of experience serving on various committees, including as chair and vice chair on Oakdale's parks and planning commission. He is the chair of the city's Veterans Memorial Park committee, a member of the Oakdale Lions Club, North St. Paul American Legion Post 39, was on the review committee for the construction of the city's nature center, construction manager for the redevelopment of Richard Walton Park and was named Oakdale's volunteer of the year in 2006.

Rasmussen said, if elected, he would continue the work that the current council has done to keep the budget at a minimum. Recruiting new businesses and jobs to Oakdale would also be a top priority.

"I think we have to develop more businesses, including small businesses," he said. "We are on the right path, lets keep it going in that direction."

He says the city would soon need to work on maintaining the quality of its homes through neighborhood revitalization projects.

 

Peter Wetzels

Peter Wetzels

Peter Wetzels, 48, is married to Julie Wetzels. He has a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Ster College in the Netherlands and works as a research coordinator at Dungarvin. Wetzels also chairs the city's planning commission.

He says he has a passion for public service and has volunteered since he became a U.S. citizen in 2000.

"I am a person that believes 'nothing in impossible,' no matter how hard or difficult things may seem," he said. "I strongly believe there is a solution to everything and will work diligently to find that solution."

Wetzels says a priority on the council would be working towards limiting the tax burden for Oakdale residents and business owners. He said he believes the city could spend its money wiser without affecting the outcome of services it offers, and he would find ways to make that happen.

He wants to see more young families move to Oakdale "to build the future of Oakdale." He would also like to develop programs to help care for seniors and take care of the city's aging housing stock.

"I believe Oakdale could and should have a part in providing low interest financing so that residents of Oakdale can update their houses at low interest, especially since banks have restricted loan availability drastically."

Joshua Nielsen can be reached at jnielsen@lillienews.com or 651-748-7822.

 


Rate this article: 
Average: 5 (1 vote)
Comment Here