Arden Hills candidates talk Rice Creek Commons, attracting business, jobs

The ballot for Arden Hills this November will have three candidates running for two council seats, while the incumbent mayor is running unopposed. 

Incumbent council members Fran Holmes and Steve Scott are being challenged by Greg Rubenstein. Mayor David Grant, without an opponent, is all but guaranteed another term as will be decided on Election Day, Nov. 6.

The candidates answered questions via email including why they are running, what skills and experiences they will bring to office, what they believe to be the top challenges the city faces and what issues or projects they would prioritize if elected.

 

Mayoral race

Grant, 61, has been mayor for eight years, and was on the city council before that for 10 years. He is a senior business intelligence analyst at Stauer, Inc., and lives in the city with his wife Linda. 

Grant earned a master’s of business administration from Minnesota State University Mankato. He said he is skilled in listening to input from residents and businesses and making balanced decisions, as well as spending carefully to meet the city’s needs while maintaining low tax rates.  

“I serve as mayor to give back to the community that has given us so much,” said Grant. 

As for challenges, Grant pointed out the city is about to turn 70 years old. He said infrastructure like sewers, water lines, water towers, roads, storm sewers and more need to be maintained. “A lot of our roads were originally built in the 1980s and with a 40-year life span many are coming due for maintenance,” he said. 

Grant said another challenge is keeping focus on the existing Arden Hills, while the former Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant and current Rice Creek Commons project with Ramsey County redevelops. 

 

Council race

Holmes, who didn’t provide her age, has been on the city council for 12 years. Before that she was a member of city committees like the Planning Commission and Communications Committee, as well as editor of the city newsletter. Recently retired, she was an attorney for the U.S. Department of Treasury and lives in the city with her husband Jeff. 

Holmes has a law degree from Indiana University. She said she is “very aware” of the city’s issues and has “a great deal of experience” resolving them. Holmes said her experience as an attorney provides her with “negotiating skills and experience in understanding city contracts and ordinances.”

Holmes said she is running to “make sensible, proactive decisions, which improve” Arden Hills while maintaining “safe, tree-lined streets and vibrant neighborhoods.”

She noted enhancing the “extremely healthy” business climate for new and expanded business and improvements on the already extensive bike and walking trails as other challenges. 

The Rice Creek Commons development is Holmes’ biggest priority. “Arden Hills has been diligently pursuing negotiations and is truly committed to a development that will be first class and a true asset for the community,” she said. 

 

Rubenstein, 61, lives in the city with his wife Marlys. He is a business analyst for Chex Systems and received his bachelor’s degree in business and economics from the University of Tampa. 

He said he has a track record of large projects completed on schedule, “within budget and done right the first time.” Rubenstein said he is skilled in vendor negotiations, understands regulatory challenges and risk management, and has expertise with contracts. He said he has planning, organization and team-building skills, and has managed multi-million dollar capital and expense projects. 

Following successful cancer treatment and surgery, Rubenstein said he was “given a second chance at life.” He said the experience led him to decide to use his time to “pay it forward” by volunteering, learning and sharing lessons learned from his 40-plus year working career. 

Rubenstein said he is running to “work tirelessly to improve” schools, reinvigorate city infrastructure and innovate while streamlining city government. 

Rubenstein said preparing teachers to prepare students to enter the workforce is a challenge for the city. He said better-prepared students, cultivated through adequately funded teacher preparation programs, will “entice new business to relocate to Arden Hills by offering a world-class workforce.”

Scott, 66, has been on the city council since winning a special election in 2016. He is a project manager for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and lives in the city with his wife Eileen. 

Scott has a master’s in business administration from Western New England University. He said he’s gained skills from two years of experience as a council member, over 30 years volunteering, and over 40 combined years of private and public sector experience. 

Scott said he’s running to continue working to resolve issues as well as to improve “basic services for our residents, businesses, K-12 and higher education partners and, in Arden Hills, recognizing and supporting our military community.” He said he “thoroughly enjoyed” working directly with residents and businesses in a “fair and transparent” way. 

Scott said the Rice Creek Commons project “will dominate local and regional politics for decades to come.” He said it will greatly expand the city, and include other things like a walkable square and residential choices, and will attract business. “The challenge,” though, said Scott, “is how to start essentially from a clean sheet and arrive at a completed project without having county and city residents straddled with shattered expectations and unpaid bills, which some similar public projects have experienced.”

He said he’d prioritize recruiting and retaining a talented city staff to provide residents with “a superior level of essential services.”

 

 

 

 

For more information about voting, go to www.sos.state.mn.us/elections-voting.

 

-Solomon Gustavo can be reached at sgustavo@lillienews.com or 651-748-7815.

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