Three Rivers Park District Board of Commissioners – District One

The Three Rivers Park District Board of Commissioners District 1 seat primary race is between James Holmbeck, Janice Meyer, Penny Steele and incumbent Sara Wyatt. The two candidates who receive the most votes in the primary will advance to the general election Nov. 6.

District 1 includes Corcoran, Greenfield, Hanover, Independence, Loretto, Maple Plain, Medicine Lake, Medina, Minnetrista, Minnetonka Beach, Mound, New Hope, Orono (precinct 1, 3 and 4), Plymouth, Rockford, Rogers, Spring Park, St. Bonifacius and Wayzata.

Sara Wyatt

Address: 4235 North 6th Avenue, Orono

Family: Married, 1 child

Education: Bachelor’s degree

Occupation: Retired

Years in district: 30 years

Have you run for any other office in the past? If so, list what, when and for how long you served (if applicable): No

• Why are you running for re-election?

I am running for re-election to make sure that Three Rivers can continue to provide future generations great parks at the lowest possible cost. My invaluable experience from two terms of guiding Three Rivers successfully through an economic downturn makes me the best candidate to manage the new and continuing challenges facing our park district in the next four years.

• What differentiates you from the other candidates?

My record of leadership on promoting environmental stewardship distinguishes me from the other candidates. The following beliefs guide me as Commissioner: Free access to our parks; a strong trail system; public and private partnerships; strong stewardship and recreation programs; and being a leader in resource protection. Through my years of service I have worked directly with citizen groups and city councils to ensure transparency in park activities. All approved board minutes and budgets, as well as audio recordings of our meetings are available on our website and Three Rivers Park District holds public hearings on proposed tax levies.

• What are some of the issues facing Three Rivers that you would like to help solve and address?

Careful budgeting continues to be an issue for the future. For the past three years, I have proposed a zero percent or less increase in the tax levy, which was adopted unanimously by the Board of Commissioners. In spite of declining property tax revenues, an increased number of visitors and higher operating costs our dedicated board and talented staff has been innovative with the available resources and partnering to ensure that our parks only get better with time.

The second big issue continues to be protection of our natural resources. There are many challenges facing us: improving water quality in our impaired lakes and streams; and preventing and managing such invasive species as zebra mussels or curly-leaf pondweed in our lakes or buckthorn and emerald ash borer in our parks. I am committed to protecting our natural resources and making our parks great while living within our means.

James Holmbeck

Address: 2222 Mill Pond Lane, Mound

Family: Single

Education: Associates Degree

Occupation: Retired

Years in district: 20 years

Have you run for any other office in the past? If so, list what, when and for how long you served (if applicable): Yes, Three Rivers Board of Commissioners District 4.

• Why are you running for the Three Rivers Board of Commissioners District one seat?

Currently, the Three Rivers’ Board of Commissioners is spending taxpayer dollars on things they shouldn’t be. I would bring fiscal responsibility and ideas about things that need improvement within the Three Rivers Park District.

• What differentiates you from the other candidates?

I am fiscally responsible and will go out and do what needs to be done; I have done so in the past and I will do it in the future.

• What are some of the issues facing Three Rivers that you would like to help solve and address?

The Coon Rapids dam is something that really needs to be dealt with once and for all because it has the potential to bankrupt Three Rivers Park District. Access to the Park District’s many amenities is also an issue that can be fixed by making buses available for those who live in the inner city and by increasing handicap accessibility.

Janice Meyer

Address: 27015 123rd Avenue North, Rogers

Family: Married, three children, 10 grandchildren

Education: One year towards an A.A. degree

Occupation: Imaging Scheduling Secretary for Allina Health

Years in district: Six years

Have you run for any other office in the past? If so, list what, when and for how long you served (if applicable): In 2008 I ran for the Three Rivers Park District Board of Commissioners District 2 seat. I lost with 48 percent of the vote.

• Why are you running for Three Rivers Board of Commissioners District one seat?

I am an ordinary citizen who has a strong interest in preserving green spaces for our communities. Minnesota is a beautiful state with many natural resources. Not only do we have wonderful parks and forests, we here in the Twin Cities have been blessed with many parks and recreation areas throughout the Metro. I grew up in Northern Minnesota in a small community. We had easy access to woods, trails and lakes. I’m drawn to nature and feel so at ease when I’m riding my horse on the trails. I’m passionate about ensuring we keep that legacy going forward for future generations.

• What differentiates you from the other candidates?

I’ve never held an elected office and may not hold the same credentials as my opponents, but I have a strong passion and interest in our fabulous Three Rivers Park system. Each of the parks holds unique opportunities for all walks of life and I believe that is one of their most valuable assets. My differences from the other candidates may just be that I have a fresh, new and passionate viewpoint.

• What are some of the issues facing Three Rivers that you would like to help solve and address?

Economic times are tight now. Citizens are very interested in where their tax dollars are being spent. Just like an ordinary household, the board has to stretch the dollars and spend wisely. I’ll work to ensure we keep the benefits we have and make modest, yet prudent, improvements in the overall system.

Penny Steele

Address: 21323 Foxtail Lane, Rogers

Family: Married

Education: Bachelor’s degree

Occupation: Small business owner

Years in district: 22 years

Have you run for any other office in the past? If so, list what, when and for how long you served (if applicable): I served as the Hennepin County Commissioner for western and northwestern Hennepin County from 1995-2009. I did not seek re-election in 2008.

• Why are you running for the Three Rivers Board of Commissioners District one seat?

I am running for the Three Rivers Park board to serve and be a strong voice for the taxpayers of District 1.

• What differentiates you from the other candidates?

I have a record of achievement both in reforming government systems and in being a watchdog for the taxpayer’s money. I bring a serious and tenacious determination to make sure that every tax dollar spent is done so as frugally and as carefully as possible.

• What are some of the issues facing Three Rivers that you would like to help solve and address?

In these challenging economic times, government systems are dealing with the pressure to do more with less. Government can simply not do business as usual while the people it serves struggle with difficult circumstances such as un-employment, under employment or people living on fixed incomes.

The Three Rivers Park District is a great public amenity. It must be managed with the greatest care to make sure that every tax dollar spent is done as carefully as possible. Another issue would be to make sure the District is focused on the “users” of the Park System and the people affected by the District. When projects are designed they must first and foremost be focused on the people that the park system serves. Too often government systems can be insular and self focused, rather than serving the people that the government belongs to.

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