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City council candidates share their positions at forum

While the rest of the country was watching the vice presidential candidates duke it out, a small group gathered at Rosemount City Hall to see what local candidates had to say.

The Dakota County Regional Chamber of Commerce held two candidate forums Thursday night. The first allowed candidates for city council to share their thoughts on a number of topics ranging from why they are qualified for the position, to attracting new businesses to Rosemount and what Rosemount will look like in 10 years.

There are two seats open on the Rosemount City Council. Incumbent Jeff Weisensel is looking to be reelected to the seat he currently holds. The second seat is occupied by Matt Kearney, who chose not to seek a full term. Vanessa Demuth, Joe Zanmiller and Joe Kurle made it past the primary to compete for the seats.

Moderator Jeff Ellis said Kurle did not attend the forum due to illness.

The first question asked was why each candidate was running for office and what made them qualified to hold the position.

Weisensel said growing up he was involved in Boy Scouts and 4-H, which established a sense of community service in him. As for qualifications, Weisensel said he has four years experience on the city council, he served 10 years on the planning commission and he works as civil engineer.

Zanmiller said his family has lived in Rosemount for more than 100 years and he has a unique perspective. He added that he hopes to engage the community in more of the local politics. He said that his job as an information technology manager at the University of Minnesota has helped him gain project management, budgeting and consensus building skills.

Demuth said she is a lifelong resident of Rosemount and that she cares deeply about the community. A geologist who has worked in both the private and public sectors, Demuth said she has a unique skill set that will benefit Rosemount as it tackles big issues such as the University of Minnesota's UMore development.

As a planning commissioner Demuth has worked to make way for mining on the UMore propery. Demuth said during that process she made contributions to ensure drinking water safety.

One of the pressing questions of the night was how to bring jobs to Rosemount.

Zanmiller said the city needs to make strategic investments into infrastructure. He advocated fiber optic connections, saying the technology could make Rosemount more attractive to businesses.

Demuth said the city needs to concentrate on attracting businesses that pay a living wage. To attract businesses, she said the city needs to streamline its permitting processes. To do that she said commissions and the council may have to meet more often. Additionally, she said steps the port authority has taken to start a business incubator are in the right directions.

Weisensel, who leads the city's port authority, said this year the commission set goals and visions to improve the city's economic situation. As part of that effort, Weisensel said, the commission has made it a priority to market Rosemount more to site selectors for businesses seeking locations.

The last question of the night asked candidates to describe where they see Rosemount in 10 years.

Zanmiller said he sees Rosemount as a bustling place. He said there will be a lot of mining being done, adding a much need resource. He said as a city council they can ensure Rosemount stays a great place.

Demuth said she sees Rosemount growing and she anticipates the city will have to deal with road safety issues as more people and business come into the area. She hopes the city will add more ballfields and retail and nurture business growth in other areas as well.

Weisensel said the city will experience growth. As a city, he said, they need to nurture business growth in innovative and sustainable technologies. As leaders, he said, the city needs to lay out a vision and provide amenities. All those things Rosemount will make Rosemount a vibrant community but still with a small town feel, he said.

The forum will be shown on the Apple Valley-Farmington-Rosemount public access television. Additionally, the forum can be viewed on Rosemount's website at .

Emily Zimmer
Emily Zimmer has worked as a staff writer for the Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. She has a degree in journalism from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Outside of work, Emily enjoys running, reading and gardening. You can follow Emily's gardening adventures at the Areavoices blog East of Weedin'
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