We’ve reported on the upcoming Woodbury city elections and the unusually large crop of candidates for mayor and two city council seats — 22 candidates in all — and plan more coverage in the coming weeks.
In the meantime, some of the candidates appeared at a recent Woodbury Chamber of Commerce event, where they each were given 2 1/2 minutes to address the group. Of course, that hardly is enough time to get into a deep debate about city issues. It is more like speed dating with candidates, but at least provided voters with a little bit of information about the candidates. Four of six mayor candidates showed up, while nine of 16 city council hopefuls appeared.
In keeping with the Chamber event’s brevity, here’s a quick summary of the candidates who showed up.
Rachel Homuth — Homuth touted a strong work ethic, fiscal responsibility and personal accountability. She works for The Hartford Insurance and said her financial services industry background would be beneficial as mayor. She wants to see the city actively participate in the Gateway Corridor Commission, an east-metro transportation alliance. Homuth also said she believes citizens feel “unnoticed and disregarded” by city government. “I will not support tax increases,” she added.
Art McCloskey — McCloskey said he is a 20-year Woodbury resident and owns an appliance installation business. He has three adult children. McCloskey said he believes outgoing Mayor Bill Hargis and the other council members have done a good job and he wants the city to continue in the same direction moving forward. “I like what’s happening,” he said of city government.
Tom Owens — Owens is an insurance agent and 18-year Woodbury resident. Owens said he can relate to the challenges facing small businesses, in part because of all of the licenses and permits he needs to run his insurance agency. Owens said the city will need to fundamentally change the way it delivers services. He said he can lead those efforts.
Mary Giuliani Stephens — A 25-year resident, Stephens serves on the Woodbury City Council. She said the city has done a good job adjusting its economic development strategy to reflect the changing economy. She said she has the leadership experience, legal background (she’s an attorney) and community experience necessary to take over as mayor. “To ensure a smooth transition, I would be good for that position,” she said.
City Council candidates
David Dobson — Dobson said he retired from General Motors in 2008. He and his wife had a few living options, but decided to move to Woodbury. He said this is a time in his life when he can make a contribution to the community. Dobson said he does not see anything that needs to be fixed in the city, but wants to keep the city on its current trajectory.
Jane Green — Green, a graphic designer, said she has the time available to serve on the council and is a good listener. Green, who moved to Woodbury in 2007, said she is interested in seeing Woodbury continue its open space policies.
Robert Mehling — Mehling, 27, said Woodbury has a history of effective tradition of council members’ work and city policies. He said it would be beneficial to have a younger resident like himself on the council. He called himself “pro-growth.”
Julie Ohs — Ohs is seeking a second four-year term on the council. She said she has worked hard on the council and has “proven my commitment.” Examples of that commitment, Ohs said, include her attendance at week-long, out-of-town conferences on emergency response training and telecommunications. She serves on the South Washington County Telecommunications Commission. (She got chuckles from the crowd when she noted: “Just an FYI: no city funding was used for these seminars.”) Ohs said she wants the city to have a proactive economic development plan with a focus on bringing high-paying jobs to the area.
Nicholas Ortiz — Ortiz said he came to Woodbury four years ago. He and his wife have a 1-year-old daughter. “I just want to be part of helping Woodbury stay on track, keep moving forward,” he said. Ortiz said he believes in growth and in bringing more residents to the city: “There’s nothing wrong with growth as long as it’s paced and done in a responsible manner.”
Don Place — Place is a recent 3M retiree and 27-year Woodbury resident. He serves on the city’s Business Development Committee. He said city spending must be prioritized and the city faces new challenges as it plans its future growth.
Jennifer Santini — Santini, who operates a small law firm, said her legal and business management background would be an asset to the council. She said the city needs to be successful so that businesses can be successful. Santini said she wants to be involved in the community.
Mark Wackerfuss — Wackerfuss said he has watched Woodbury go from being a farm community to being a business center. He said small business entrepreneurs should be rewarded for their efforts and not face “excessive fees.” He said the city needs to understand the business climate so it can anticipate potential problems, and he said Woodbury should have fewer ordinances and those that it does have should be written so residents can understand them.
Daryl Wahl — Wahl said he has been in Woodbury 17 years. He organizes the Woodbury Royal Ambassador program and is involved with the Woodbury Chamber of Commerce’s new business ambassadors committee. He said he talks to people outside of Woodbury who praise the city. “I’d like to continue to be part of that,” he said.
*Council candidate Christopher Burns was not at the forum because he was out of town for business, but local businessman Jack Lanners spoke on his behalf. Lanners said Burns, an attorney, grew up in Woodbury, has business and legal experience and has been involved in the community. He serves on the Economic Development Commission.