Get to know city council candidate Jeff Weisensel
In four years, what do you hope to have accomplished on the city council?
Consistent with the current city council goals, I would continue to work toward 1) maintaining or improving our structural finances and operational efficiency, 2) continue to maintain and invest in our infrastructure, parks, trails and recreation programs and 3) improve our website visibility for site selectors to expand our business and employment opportunities. Within these are specific accomplishments 1) to redevelop the Steeple Center property with senior housing and a public senior activity center, and 2) a partnership with DCTC and the YMCA to produce a recreational amenity.
Where does this office fit into your political aspirations?
I currently have no political aspirations beyond the local level. I serve because residents have placed their trust in my qualifications and judgment to represent them and the city's interest to make Rosemount the place we all want as our community to live, learn, work and play.
UMore will be a continuous issue for the city. What are your thoughts on the property and its future development?
Communication and transparency to inform our residents of progress and developments are keys going through the development and permitting processes. This project is unprecedented in the Twin Cities for its scale (5,000 acres), scope and anticipated duration (25-30-plus years). Much of the development will occur based on a balance of market forces with aspirational goals and action plans for sustainability. The city will work with UMORE Development LLC as they work through their development timeline and roadmap. I believe the conceptual business park in the development would provide a strong foundational element to create the need for commercial and residential opportunities to follow.
While the city council makes the decisions, city staff does much of the day-to-day work. What is your management style and what are your expectations of city staff?
City council manages only one city staff, our city administrator. The city administrator is responsible to manage the remaining city staff. My management style does not rely on any specific style but involves open communication and collaboration to gain trust and agreement. I rely on our city administrator as well as all our city staff to be competent practitioners in their fields of expertise. Communication with other staff always includes the city administrator. Typical topics include resident concerns, process improvement opportunities or clarifications of operational issues.
My responsibility as a city council member is more of leadership that is practical and positive. Specifically, a results orientation to set policy and take actions consistent with established strategic direction and goals. The budget process serves to convey direction and allocates resources consistent with policy for staff. For effective leadership, council actions include the necessity to "speak with one voice." Council members express dissent during discussions and preceding a vote. Once a vote occurs, the council's decisions may subsequently be changed, but are never to be undermined. This provides clarity and consistency in direction to staff as well as our residents.
What is your background?
Beginning our eighteenth in Rosemount, my wife Kathy and I are celebrating thirty years of marriage and our family of three adult children, Ashley Sturm, Kelsey and Lindsey, who all attended Rosemount schools. Community involvement includes youth organization work with Scouting and 4-H as well as coaching RAAA basketball and being a band parent for the high school marching band. I serve Dakota County 4-H Federation as their finance director for the past ten years and served as a project leader for 29 years.
Currently, I serve on City Council, elected in 2008 and Port Authority Chair for the past three years as well as the Council Liaison to the Rosemount Youth Commission for two years and board director for the Dakota Communications Center the past three years. This year I received an appointment to the National League of Cities (NLC) Community and Economic Development policy committee. I am a NLC Leadership Training Institute Fellow. In past years, I have served on the Rosemount Planning Commission for seven years, chairing three years, the Rosemount Wetlands Ordinance Task Force and the Dakota County Extension Committee fir six years, chairing three years.
I work for Target Corporation in Property Development as a Senior Construction Project Manager, developing and building new retail sites and remodeling existing stores in major markets throughout the US. I have 30+ years of contractor and development experiences on projects ranging from $100k to $91MM totaling over 10MM square feet. I have a BS in Civil Engineering and a MS in Project Management from University of Wisconsin-Platteville. I belong to the American Society of Civil Engineers as well as the Project Management Institute. I am an accredited professional for Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED BD+C, AP).
Other community related items of note include being a member of Shepherd of Valley Lutheran Church, an event lead for Red Cross Safety Mobile as well as a 10+ gallon blood donor, Hearts and Hammer House captain and Eagle Scout.
Why do you want to lead?
Responsible citizenship includes taking a greater role in our community than just living here. My background in youth organizations, my training as a civil engineer and project management and my day-to-day job in the private sector in construction and retail development uniquely position me to provide practical and positive leadership and a progressive growth vision for our community. The past four years, this leadership and vision helped to provide essential services while reducing residential tax burden despite falling revenues. Growing our city in a sustainable way to maintain our infrastructure, provide necessary public safety services and create amenities to foster our community neighborhoods and gathering spaces is the focus and attention I expect and want to see in any of our community leaders. It is why I want to accept the challenge and opportunity to lead our community.
Why run for city council?
Many times, City Council feels like a full time job with meetings, interviews, work sessions and the large amount of reading materials for the variety of issues coming before council. For me, being a community builder and serving the citizens is the focus of what I do. Yes, receiving some benefits for serving is welcome and appreciated. However, the bulk of our personnel salary goes, as it should, to the city staff that performs the daily business of the city.
What makes you qualified?
From the past election, I was one of two selected by our citizens from a slate of twenty-six to represent and make decisions for our residents. They placed their trust in my background and experiences. Today after four years of service implementing budgets that reduce their taxes, support infrastructure maintenance and public safety while working to increase business growth, promote partnerships for community amenities and city operations efficiency, I believe many citizens will continue their trust and re-elect me to continue to make decisions on their behalf.
What are your thoughts on the current council?
The current council brings diverse experiences from the community and a focused intensity working on common goals to build our community together. Many elected officials from surrounding communities note they wish they worked with a council like ours. We are fortunate not to have the disruptions and hidden agendas that appear to disrupt nearby cities. It makes great theater, but results, not controversy is what our residents appear to expect and want from our council. Those results include but not limited to a 19% residential property tax reduction over the past four years. Having new, expanding and relocating businesses choose Rosemount despite the current economic environment. We improved our public safety by reduced crime rates, improved emergency response times and purchasing a new fire truck and equipment. We increased the youth voice in the city through the Youth Commission. Provided direct bus commuter service to Minneapolis. We utilized partnerships to increase athletic facilities, improved city council and administration operations efficiency and increased communication with citizens and businesses.
The council meets during the evenings and sometimes on the weekends. Additionally a lot of reading is required to prepare for meetings. Are you ready for the time commitment serving on the council requires?
I do, having experienced the time commitment needed in serving our residents and city the past four years.
How will you make tough decisions?
Having served the past four years on council, I have and can made difficult decisions. Each year, council makes budget decisions addressing needs and wants. A majority of budget involves personnel related decisions including hiring and potential layoffs, salary and benefits. I believe I have and will be able to continue a balance approach relying on the presented information and options to make the best choices for the residents and our city.