Anderson retires from Dayton Council after 20 years of service

Anderson, Hoke, Forseth depart council with more than 60 years of experience between them

After 20 years on the council, eight of them as mayor, Doug Anderson is handing over the gavel.

When election season rolled around in 2012, Anderson announced his intentions to retire from city service. Although he will no longer be presiding over Dayton City Council meetings two Tuesdays a month, Anderson still has high hopes for the city.

“I hope the future council will continue on,” he said. “I hope they understand what’s been done. A lot of groundwork has been laid for Dayton’s future.”

That groundwork is part of Anderson’s legacy. When he first took office in 1992 Dayton looked much the way it does now but it was also very different. For starters, there was no city water or sewer. That came eventually, first in the historic village and in 2010 the city approved a multi-million dollar water and sewer project bringing city services to hundreds of residents in the Northeast part of the city.

For the last four or five years the economic has halted the booming growth many metropolitan cities experienced in the decade leading up to that. However, Anderson has always kept his eye on the big picture.

“Development is going to happen. Change is going to happen,” he has said numerous times over his tenure as Mayor. He has viewed the economic slowdown as an opportunity for Dayton to take the time needed to prepare for that eventuality.

One effort to that effect was undertaking a major review and reworking of the city’s ordinances. Infrastructure and road improvements, stabilizing the budget, completing a comprehensive plan and developing a 5-year capital improvement plan have all been a part of the imprint Anderson leaves behind. His efforts have all been designed with the goal of preparing for ordered growth and planning ahead for Dayton’s future.

Despite the economic challenges, about a half-dozen developments and some manufacturing and commercial development has occurred over the past two decades.

Perhaps one of the biggest achievements Anderson holds dear is the work he invested on furthering the goal of an Interstate 94 interchange at Brockton Lane.

“I am thankful I was given support to lobby for federal funding for Brockton and came back home with $800,000,” he said. Those funds pushed the project into a design and planning phase, which wrapped up this past fall with a completed final design plan. The next goal is to find funding for the project. The idea behind having a design plan in place is that the project becomes more appealing should state or federal funds or grant applications come along because it is considered shovel-ready.

“I truly believe that the interchange is the lynch pin in Dayton’s future economic success,” he said.

While he admits he has some regrets that he is leaving office before the project is in the ground, he said he knew it was time for him to move on.

Anderson attributes the city’s staff for running the city well during tough times.

“They have been successful in moving us forward and have really been great, from the administration to the public works and police department,” he said.

Outgoing council member Scott Hoke echoes Anderson’s sentiments.

“Our staff are the best professionals we could get for the job,” he said. Hoke is please the city met the goals of revising ordinances and preparing Dayton for development including bringing in city water and sewer.

Anderson and Hoke’s departure is accompanied by council member Phil Forseth. As incoming mayor Tim McNeil stated in his blog, “For the first time in six years, at least two new members will sit on city council … The new council will have very little experience. With the current council (prior to 2013) having nearly 70 years of experience, the next council will begin with just 8 years of experience. There will be man hard choices and lots of learning to do.”

Anderson agrees that the learning curve is long for new council members.

“It’s a challenge to make decisions and plans wide in scope and forward thinking,” he said. I hope the new council takes their selves and their needs out of the mix and makes decisions in the best interest of Dayton as a whole.”

Hoke agrees sharing some final thoughts for the new council.

“It is much more difficult and there’s a lot more to be learned than you think going into the job,” he said.

Tim McNeil will officially be sworn in as the city’s new mayor at the Jan. 11 council meeting. Scott Salonek and Eric Lucero will be sworn in as new council members. At the same meeting, the council is expected to discuss plans to replace the vacancy left by McNeil moving from councilor to mayor.