consultants are sandburs

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

RAMSEY - Strib reports on the mayor contest.

This link, this excerpt:

Strommen, the only woman on the seven-member council, served two terms between 2002 and 2008. She gave up politics to spend more time with her young son, then returned to the council last year after winning a special election to fill the seat vacated by David Jeffrey, who was battling pancreatic cancer.

A Fulbright scholar who holds degrees from Grinnell College and Duke University, Strommen's time away from politics afforded her a different perspective of the way the city can be run.

"My skill is in bringing people together with conflicting views," said Strommen, associate director of the Minnesota Land Trust, a nonprofit that strives to protect Minnesota's natural and scenic heritage. She often deals with state policy revolving around these issues.

As a manager of eight funding grants, Strommen said she is used to being held accountable and transparent in her work, and those are important traits for a mayor.

"We have opportunities in Ramsey -- with the COR [development project], with our Northstar station," she said. "We need to make retail complimentary, not competitive in the COR. The city needs to invest strategically in this, but we can't forget parts of the city we've ignored -- our industrial space that could bring business and jobs to our community. The Mississippi River offers a huge opportunity. There's great potential to be tapped."

Bob Ramsey was elected mayor in 2008, saying he wanted to streamline government. He says he had seen how a previous Ramsey council had created the much-maligned Ramsey Town Center "and the black eye we had with the media."

He said he also cringed at the direction he saw the city taking, which he describes as "environmentally driven."

"It's important for us to be responsible for our environment, but there's an extent," Ramsey said. "When it costs 50 times what we need to spend, I'm opposed to that."

Mayor Ramsey got to view his city from afar last winter -- after he was forced to close his own small business. He worked on an oil field near Minot, N.D., 500 miles away, for several months, returning home to attend council meetings every other week.

"I was never disconnected at all," he said.

He has since found work in Ramsey.

"When I moved to Ramsey from Coon Rapids in 2005, there were things that were desperately wrong," he said. "By the time I got elected in 2008, I had a pretty good idea of what needed to be done."

Ramsey declined the League of Women's Voters invitation to debate Strommen.

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