Many Arden Hills City Council candidates say TCAAP is top challenge facing suburb


Dan Burns

Steven Jones

Tania Dreon

Dave McClung

Brenda Holden

Steve Scott

Nicholas Tamble

The Arden Hills City Council terms of Brenda Holden, Dave McClung and Jonathan Wicklund are expiring at the end of this year. 

Arden Hills voters will see five names on the ballot for Holden and McClung’s four-year seats. The two incumbents are seeking re-election and facing challengers Dan Burns, Tania Dreon and Steven Jones.

There will also be two candidates on the ballot for a special two-year term, which is the seat that has been occupied by Wicklund. He was appointed to the council after member Robert Woodburn died in October 2015. 

While Wicklund has decided not to attempt to retain his seat, Steve Scott and Nicholas Tamble are vying for it. 

The Bulletin asked the candidates what skills and experience they would bring to elected office; what challenges the city faces in the coming years and what they would prioritize if elected. 

Appearing in alphabetical order by last name, their answers are included below. 

 

Four-year term 

Dan Burns, 47, is a supervisory senior financial analyst at Wells Fargo. He holds an MBA from the University of St. Thomas, where he studied finance. He is married to Rachel.

Burns said “ He has experience working for both the public and private sectors. He worked for the Department of Homeland Security for five years, an insurance company for 10 years, and on a pension board for an additional five years.

“Based on my business background and ability to commit time to this endeavor, I would bring a new perspective and diligent work ethic to city initiatives and projects that may otherwise not exist,” Burns said. 

According to Burns, the top challenges the city faces in upcoming years include resident advocacy, development of the former Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant site and having a fully staffed city government.

Among those and other issues, Burns said he would prioritize the development of the TCAAP property, otherwise known as Rice Creek Commons. 

 

Tania Dreon, 33, is married to Matthew and is currently a stay-at-home mom. She earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, and is a certified public accountant. 

She has 10 years experience in audit, finance and process improvement, and most recently worked at the Ernst and Young accounting firm in Minneapolis, where she also served as vice chair of the Minneapolis Professional Women’s Network.

She said her husband grew up and attended college in Arden Hills, and they chose his hometown as their place to live. 

According to Dreon, the city’s top challenges include the development of the TCAAP site, creation of space for both residents and businesses.

“Retaining and attracting business to the area is important as well as making our city safer,” Dreon said.

She said one issue she would prioritize if elected is pedestrian safety due to the heavy volume of traffic the suburb experiences. 

She said she would actively pursue opportunities to add trails and sidewalks. 

 

Brenda Holden, 59, recently retired as the director of operations at the Minnesota Cancer Surveillance System. She holds a bachelor’s degree in economic and political science, which she received from Minnesota State University-Mankato and is married to Jim. 

Holden, who’s lived in Arden Hills since 1981, has served on the city council for more than 14 years.

“I have spearheaded maintenance programs for city infrastructure. I have been fiscally conservative,” Holden said, noting that over the years she has also supported the expansion and enhancements of the city’s parks and trails. 

As for Arden Hills’ top challenges in the upcoming years, Holden listed maintenance of city property, infrastructure, trails and parks. 

Other challenges Holden noted included: TCAAP’s development, encouraging businesses to create public amenities and trail connections, and partnering with the Minnesota Army National Guard to allow use of its land for recreational use. 

As to what she would prioritize, Holden held up the city’s aging streets, sewers and water pipes, emphasizing the need to “focus on our existing city” in the midst of the TCAAP development.

 

Steven Jones, 55, is a mechanical systems designer at Gustave A Larson Company. He holds an associates degree in HVAC design from Dunwoody Institute. He has served on the Arden Hills Planning Commission for the past three years and has lived in Arden Hills for 17 years. He and his wife Belinda raised three children in the suburb.  

He called himself analytical, pragmatic, and a long-term thinker. “I take into consideration how details impact the whole,” Jones said.

According to Jones, the top challenges Arden Hills is facing in the coming years include: community-building, utilizing TCAAP to better the city, maintenance and development of the city’s trails and parks, working for growth and diversity with Ramsey County, building energy efficiencies, maintaining and supporting police and public safety, and assessing the city’s staffing needs. 

Of those, Jones said he would prioritize the city’s staffing needs, as various positions remain vacant after months. “Plans for TCAAP are moving forward,” he said, noting the council and staff will need energy to focus.

 

Dave McClung, 47, works for the Minnesota Department of Revenue and holds a master’s degree in political science and national security policy from George Washington University.

McClung is single and has served on the council from 2007-2010 and 2013 to the present, a total of eight years. Previous to that, McClung also served on the Arden Hills Planning Commission, Communications Committee and the Parks and Recreation Committee. 

“I grew up in Arden Hills, watched the city grow, and for the past 10 years, have had a hand in creating the environment that makes Arden Hills a desired community to live, work, and raise a family.”

McClung lists the development of TCAAP as the city’s biggest challenge over the next four years, explaining that the top challenge will be to advocate that the development happens in “a manner that fits Arden Hills standards and values.”

“The city of Arden Hills, Ramsey County and Alatus LLC have one chance to make the Rice Creek Commons development a high quality, unique development that the entire Twin Cities can benefit from.”

 

Special two-year term

Steve Scott, 64, works in IT as a program/project manager at the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. He holds a master’s degree in business administration from Western New England University and is married to Eileen. 

Bringing 44 years of “business-savvy, IT professional, and project management” experience to the council if elected, Scott noted in his career he’s been a careful listener in order to understand people’s various needs to “provide support and deliver solutions.” 

“In addition to my professional experience, I also have over 20 years of volunteer civic experience including service on advisory committees for technology, construction, elections and parks and recreation,” Scott said.

According to Scott, the development of TCAAP and the city’s staffing issues are key challenges the city is currently facing. 

Scott said he would focus on TCAAP and further help develop the city’s parks, trails, and recreation as it relates to the master plan for the development of the site.

“The joint master developer has proposed a plan which significantly reduces our green space and parks,” Scott said. “My goal is to vigorously defend the city’s plan.”

 

Nicholas Tamble, 42, is the founder and president of Gardens LTD, a lawn and landscaping company. He holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Concordia University-St. Paul and is married to Kimberly. 

Tamble said he spent two years on the Arden Hills City Council several years ago and has 26 years of business ownership experience, specifically “working with people who have various needs, wants and desires,” he explained. 

According to Tamble, among the top challenges Arden Hills faces is the attainment of fully staffed administrative offices.

“In order to best operate a city, all positions need to be fulfilled and held by capable and enthusiastic people who work well as a team,” Tamble said. “The city of Arden Hills is at the onset of one of the biggest developments in the Twin Cities. The management of this involves many moving parts and groups of people.”

Other challenges Tamble noted include the city’s parks and trails, road construction projects and aging infrastructure needs, as well as supporting more community social events. 

 

Jesse Poole can be reached at jpoole@lillienews.com or at 651-748-7815.

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