UPDATED: Four vie for two St. Paul Park City Council seats
Four St. Paul Park residents filed for the two open City Council seats, including incumbent council members Sandi Dingle and Jeff Swenson.
Dingle and Swenson’s terms, who were both first elected in 2005 and re-elected in 2009, are set to expire on Jan. 6, 2014.
Two candidates also vying for the open seats are Darrin Smith and Nathan Kotfis. The four will square off in the Nov. 5 election.
Darrin Smith is a computer technician and lifelong resident of St. Paul Park. He is also a military veteran who served in during Operation Desert Storm as a member of the military police and held the ranking of sergeant squad leader.
As a first-time candidate, Smith said he wants to bring more productive dialogue to the council roundtable.
“I want to try to bring more common sense back to St. Paul Park,” he said. “I think it’s time to stop arguing about simple things and make better decisions. We also need to try to bring in more business.”
Nathan Kotfis is employed in the water treatment department at the Metropolitan Council and has a passion for the environment. A strong proponent of the keeping of bees and chickens, Kotfis said he wants to bring more freedom back to St. Paul Park homeowners.
“I feel there has to be a stronger voice for the average homeowner,” he said. “I want to bring to the table a more sympathetic ear for the homeowner pertaining issues that revolve around our community.”
As a current member of the city’s Public Works Commission, Kotfis said he has a passion for public safety, public health and the environment. Also a first-time candidate, Kotfis has lived in St. Paul Park for six years with his wife, Jessica, and their two young children.
Incumbent council member Jeff Swenson has been active on several city boards and commissions including the St. Paul Park Athletic Association and Heritage Days Festival board.
Swenson said he wants to continue to provide his business-minded direction.
“I think I’ve been fortunate to work with a group of people on this council and we have some things that remain to be done,” he said. “I think that my business background can provide a cog in that machine to keep us moving forward.”
Swenson cited the implementation of the city’s five-year budget plan, keeping the ad valorem tax base low and developing a street reconstruction plan as positives during his term.
Swenson is a longtime St. Paul Park resident along with his wife, Michelle, and their two daughters and stepson.
Sandi Dingle is the principal administrative specialist for the planning and growth management department at the Metropolitan Council. Seeking re-election, Dingle said she feels she has more to contribute.
"I would like to continue to enhance our parks, beautify our downtown, maintain services and keep taxes down at the same time," she said. "Not always easy to do but worth the challenge."
Dingle cited lowering road construction assessment rates, addition of new park equipment at Abdella and Dingle parks and the construction of Sittlow Park as positives during her time on the council.
"If re-elected I would like to see more beautification of our downtown," Dingle said. "I would also like to work with Washington County Parks to ensure that a regional trail is established along the bluff line of 'River's Edge' that would connect to the future Grey Cloud Island Regional Park. There is still lots to be done and I still feel energized to do it."
She has prior experience working on the Citizen Advisory Committee, Metropolitan Parks and Open Space Commission, Land Use Advisory Committee, Committee of the Whole, Rural Issues Work Group and the Metropolitan Radio Board.
Dingle lives in St. Paul Park with her husband Dan, two daughters and one son.