• (651) 451-2266
  • info@riverheights.com
river heights chamber of commerce

Annual River Heights Chamber Golf Classic Open to Business Community – Donate Now to the Online Auction

Nicole Bengtson
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Editorials, Event News, Marketing

Inver Grove Heights/South St. Paul – The River Heights Chamber of Commerce invites the community to golf in the Chamber’s Annual Golf Classic fundraiser presented for the third consecutive year by Republic Services on Monday, June 24, 2019, at Southview Country Club, 239 E. Mendota Road, West St. Paul.

June 24th is promised to be filled with fun starting at 10 a.m. with registration including a Bloody Mary bar and box lunch pick-up. The range is open for practice and shot-gun start for teams is at 11:00 a.m. There will be many contests on the course, and a ball drop before the awards dinner which follows the day’s play. “One of the most fun parts of the day is networking with the sponsors who sit at each hole on the course. They may hold a contest with prizes and hand out company branded items. It’s always fun to see what unique events they come up with,” notes Michele Hein of Tandem Printing, Golf Task Force Chair.

An online auction will be sure to please with great items starting in mid-June – everyone is welcome to donate an item, fun experience or gift card to the auction at www.riverheights.com/donate.

“New to the tournament this year, we are excited to announce a New Golfer’s Clinic beginning at 3 p.m. One of Southview Country Club’s own golf professionals will teach this group lesson for 1 hour! We strive for ways to bring non-golfers to our annual event, so we hope this does the trick,” adds Hein.

Register your foursome to golf before June 1st for a discounted rate of $600 or $160/golfer. After June 1st, $175/golfer. Guests are invited to attend the dinner and Pro Lesson for $60 or dinner only for $35. The annual tournament is held rain or shine. Special thanks to these businesses for being major sponsors of the tournament: 21st Century Bank, Key Community Bank, KOMA, MidWestOne Bank, Quality Auto Care Center, Sanimax, Town Square Television and Xcel Energy. Check out the other businesses who are going to be out on the course at www.riverheights.com/golf.

For more registration information, visit us online at www.riverheights.com/golf or call the River Heights Chamber of Commerce at 651.451.2266.

River Heights Chamber Celebrates 30 Years of Small Business Success

Nicole Bengtson
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Editorials, Event News, Marketing

Inver Grove Heights/South St. Paul (4/4/19) – The River Heights Chamber of Commerce invites you to celebrate with the business community at the Small Business of the Year Award Luncheon & Trade Show on Thursday, April 25 at 11 a.m. at Mendakota Country Club in Mendota Heights.

The River Heights Chamber of Commerce is celebrating its 30th Anniversary of the Small Business Award and it promises to be a great event! Do you know a past recipient? We ask that you encourage them to attend and be recognized! See the history of Small Business Award winners here – if you don’t see your favorite small business, nominate them for next year!

Jake Sedlacek, Chairman of the River Heights Chamber of Commerce noted, “Small business drives our economy – locally and nationally. The Small Business Awards are an opportunity to recognize, celebrate and connect with outstanding small businesses right here in our community.”

How you can participate and benefit from attending:

  • Showcase your company in the Trade Show (and be entered to win a prize in the “Favorite Booth” Contest – NEW this year!)
  • Network with area business and community representatives
  • Meet & support the finalists for the 2019 Small Business of the Year Award and watch LIVE as the 2019 recipient is announced and recognized – Finalists include: Allrounder Remodeling, Point North Networks and Yours Truly Marketing Incentives!
  • Hear from our exceptional keynote speaker, Phil Gwoke, BridgeWorks – be entertained and informed on “When Generations Connect” – Watch a video to get a glimpse of Phil’s presentation here

With all of the outstanding businesses in the community, the River Heights Chamber is excited to honor the following finalists: Allrounder Remodeling, Inc., Point North Networks, Inc., and Yours Truly Marketing Incentives, Inc., each one deserving of the 2019 title! Finalists were nominated their peers, the community participated in an online voting poll and the River Heights Chamber’s Recognition Committee selected the winner. RSVP to attend to find out LIVE who will win the Small Business of the Year Award! The Small Business of the Year Award acknowledges an organization that has been in business for five years or more, has 20 or fewer employees, has at least two years of membership in the River Heights Chamber, and encompasses a business that has a commitment to the community through its involvement and assistance to community organizations, to its employees, suppliers and customer relationships, in addition to, a commitment to excellence in service, business ethics, friendliness and business operations.

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you to our event sponsors, Deerwood Bank, Town Square Television and Velocity Public Affairs. The event is also sponsored in-part by Trade Show sponsor Good Samaritan Society – Inver Grove Heights and contributing sponsors LeVander, Gillen & Miller PA, Microtel Inn & Suites By Wyndham (Inver Grove Heights), Mississippi Pub and Ultimate Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning.

For more details about the Small Business Award Luncheon & Trade Show, visit and register at www.riverheights.com/smallbusiness. To learn more about the finalists and this year’s award recipient announced at the event, please watch for their videos on the River Heights Chamber of Commerce’s Facebook page @RiverHeightsChamber and on their YouTube channel at YouTube.com/riverheightschamber following the event on April 25th.

About River Heights Chamber of Commerce
The River Heights Chamber of Commerce is committed to its mission to aggressively promote the interests of the business communities of Inver Grove Heights and South St. Paul. The organization is volunteer-driven and strives to attract and retain businesses to keep the business community thriving. Driving economic progress and business development is its focus. The River Heights Chamber continues to provide value-added opportunities for all members and is dedicated to making connections and delivering resources that benefit local businesses. Visit www.riverheights.com or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to learn about the benefits of membership and events.

Meet the Newest Staff Member: Eric Satre, IGH CVB Tourism Director

Nicole Bengtson
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Editorials

From Eric Satre, Tourism Director of the Inver Grove Heights Convention & Visitors Bureau:

My name is Eric Satre, Tourism Director, with the Inver Grove Heights Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB). I’m new to this role but I live in South St. Paul so I’m familiar with the south metro area.

Pop quiz: What Minnesota industry generates $15 billion in gross annual sales, $969 million in state sales taxes, and employs 265,000 workers?

Answer: If you said the leisure and hospitality industry, you are correct!

Within the industry’s travel and tourism sector is the Convention & Visitor Bureau (CVB). Cities across the country, and the globe, have a CVB to promote tourism. In large downtown areas, CVBs usually operate independently from a chamber of commerce, while smaller cities such as Inver Grove Heights co-exist with a chamber, in this case, the River Heights Chamber of Commerce.

The CVB mission is: To market and promote Inver Grove Heights to visitors; to maintain and stimulate the community’s economic vitality.

Quite simply, when visitors stay in a city, visitors spend money and the entire city benefits. When we share our story and invite leisure and group travelers to experience our city, impact on the local economy is able to grow. A CVB is at the forefront of those efforts.

Prior to joining Inver Grove Heights CVB in January, I spent the previous 11+ years at Visit Saint Paul in downtown St. Paul. Working in the sales department, my job was to secure conventions at Saint Paul RiverCentre and hotels. I accepted the position as Tourism Director because I’m invested in the south metro and I see a lot of potential for tourism growth. Our community has a lot to offer, we just have to share it.

In doing so, it’s important to think about our identity as a tourist destination and how we can strategically market our city. What makes us unique? What are our strengths as a visitor destination? Why would someone choose to stay in the south metro versus another area of the Twin Cities?

We have resources available to communicate our message. The VisitIGH.com CVB website is a great resource for all things Inver Grove Heights. I’m also building up our social media presence. Side note: have you liked our Facebook page yet? I’ll be compiling a centralized event listing, from special events at Veterans Memorial Community Center to Inver Grove Heights Days, to serve as a one-stop-shop for things to do.

Another great resource is the CVB visitor guide, which is available in both print and digital format. The visitor guide is a FREE brochure highlighting hotels, attractions, golf courses, restaurants, and things to do. Visit the website to request your copy.

Additionally, the CVB markets the city for group travel whether we’re hosting the event or we’re providing a hotel room block for an event nearby. One example is the Ice Sports Industry (ISI) 2019 Synchronized Championships at Doug Woog Arena on April 12-13. The Inver Grove Heights CVB, Eagan CVB, and City of South St. Paul partnered together to secure this event that will draw 600 competitive skaters from 10 states. Shameless plug—we invite you to check out Saturday’s competition, admission is FREE! Visit www.skateisi.org (National Competitions page) for the event schedule.

Finally, here is my call to action. Engage in local events wherever you live and help tell the story of your community. Take advantage of local options—restaurants, shopping, hotels, attractions, parks and trails, educational events, sporting events, and event facilities (birthdays, reunions, wedding receptions, corporate meetings, etc.). Keep the CVB in mind for resources too and share your experiences with us on social media @VisitIGH.

Inver Grove Heights is a city neighboring the Mississippi River, boasting robust parks and trails, family-friendly activities and events, unique venues and quality hotel accommodations at an affordable price. Just minutes from downtown Saint Paul, Mall of America® and Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) International Airport, Inver Grove Heights is closer than you think!
www.visitigh.com

Ambassadors of the River Heights Chamber of Commerce

Nicole Bengtson
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Editorials, Marketing

The River Heights Chamber has a number of committees that play an important role in its operations; one of the most visible of these committees is our group of Ambassadors! The Chamber’s Ambassadors are comprised of local business volunteers who are committed to promoting Chamber activities, membership and community events to promote our Chamber and serve area businesses.

The 2019 Chair of the River Heights Ambassador Committee is Heidi Satre, Marketing and Events Manager at Neighbors, Inc. She describes the Ambassadors’ role as, “similar to a hospitality committee – we are responsible for welcoming new members, helping facilitate member-to-member connections and representing the River Heights Chamber in the community.”  The 2019 River Heights Chamber Ambassadors come from all fields: public and private sector, for-profit and not-for-profit, small businesses and large corporations.

This year’s Ambassadors currently join us from the following businesses:

  • Jackie Paul, 360 Communities
  • Ruth Bader, Allrounder Remodeling
  • Angela Liedke, DARTS
  • Karen A. LaBate, Deerwood Bank
  • Steve Doody, Doody Cleaning Service
  • Karin Gott, ECSI System Integrators
  • Kyle Cuppy,  Key Community Bank – Inver Grove Heights
  • Andy Lucking CFP, LWM, LLC
  • Mark Allen Patun, MAP Consulting Agency LLC
  • Josh Keskey, Minuteman Press
  • Heidi Satre, Neighbors, Inc.
  • Darcy Wetzel, Neighbors, Inc.
  • Kaley Lanning, Paychex
  • Brian Martell, Point North Networks, Inc.
  • Bruce Bairaktaris, Quality Auto Care Center
  • Sue Marsden, River Heights Vineyard Church
  • Todd Edholm, Tandem Printing, Inc.
  • Shawn Vougeot, Town Square Television
  • Vern Harmon, Unity One Credit Union
  • Holly Ostertag, Vermillion State Bank
  • Amanda Kissner, Wakota Federal Credit Union

Ambassadors support the activities of area businesses and civic organizations by attending their grand openings and ribbon cuttings, anniversary celebrations, groundbreakings and other commemorative events. They visit with new businesses of all types in the community to welcome them and share benefits of the Chamber, as well as do retention visits to keep members engaged.  Satre elaborates, “Being involved in the Ambassador Committee is a great way to expand your network and it’s a lot of fun to visit a variety of businesses and organizations in our community. I’ve learned a lot about business fields I wasn’t previously familiar with just from our Ambassador visits. It’s a great way to get to know your community!

If you are a new or existing business in the region and would like to schedule a visit from the River Heights Chamber Ambassador group, please contact Colleen Murphy at Colleen@RiverHeights.com or 651 451.2266.

River Heights Chamber 2019 Annual Meeting & Awards Ceremony

Nicole Bengtson
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Editorials, Event News

Celebrating 116 Years and Honoring Business of the Year, Forrest Glewwe Visions of Excellence and Volunteer of the Year

Inver Grove Heights/South Saint Paul (January 11, 2019) – The River Heights Chamber of Commerce celebrated its 116th Annual Meeting on Thursday, January 10th at Southview Country Club. “The Annual Meeting for River Heights Chamber and Progress Plus featured transition, recognition and inspiration,” commented 2019 Chairman of the Board, Jake Sedlacek.

Brenda Dietrich, 2018 Chair of the Board, highlighted accomplishments of the past year and reflected on her gratitude for the River Heights Chamber of Commerce and the leadership opportunities and tools she was able to learn and take away from her year as Chair, and into her new role as IGH City Councilmember.  Brenda also welcomed the Chamber’s 2019 Chairman of the Board, Jake Sedlacek of Xcel Energy.  When Jake began, he noted, “I love reflecting upon the differences in our businesses – a family-owned, local business and a fortune 500 utility, and yet we both see value in being a part of the River Heights Chamber of Commerce.”  Jake added, “As a community relations manager, I originally engaged in Chamber activities as a means to get to know key businesses, non-profits and government leaders.  I’ve stuck around, and become more engaged because this organization lives its mission: To aggressively promote the interests of the business community through advocacy, partnerships, member benefits and networking.”  Chairman Sedlacek also shared the Board’s initiatives for 2019, talked about working together to make connections and gave a call to action to all the membership – “take advantage of Chamber activities.”

Chairman Jake Sedlacek presented the 2019 Business of the Year award to a company with over 20 employees who has made an impact on the River Heights Chamber and its business community, a positive impact on its employees and customers, and the environment – Republic Services!  Jennifer Gale, president of River Heights Chamber and Progress Plus noted, “Republic Services is a good steward to their employees, the community and to the earth, and the River Heights Chamber is proud to honor them as our Business of the Year.”

Dave Langer (of Langer Real Estate Services) was selected and honored with the Chamber’s 2018 Forrest Glewwe Visions of Excellence Award.  Dave truly exceeds in all criteria for this award – a commitment to the betterment of life, business, community and entrepreneurship for the River Heights region!  “Dave Langer is a pillar in the East Metro community and it’s an honor to recognize his many accomplishments personally and professionally,” added Gale.

Chair Deitrich was excited to surprise a special individual who has played an important role as a volunteer in the organization.  Since 1995, the River Heights Chamber of Commerce has presented a Rising Star Award to a volunteer who has accelerated in their first few years as a Chamber volunteer by displaying leadership, enthusiasm and passion for the Chamber’s mission.  “This year, not only is this person a rising star, but she is our Volunteer of the Year – she has gone above and beyond the call of her membership. I’m proud to present the 2018 Rising Star and Volunteer of the Year award to Michele Hein of Tandem Printing,“ announced Deitrich.

For more details on Republic Services or Dave Langer, make sure to watch their award videos on the River Heights Chamber of Commerce’s Facebook page and YouTube channel at YouTube.com/riverheightschamber! Check out all the photos from the event here.

Special thanks to the Annual Meeting event sponsors Flint Hills Resources, Town Square Television, Waterous Company and Xcel Energy, as well as our contributing sponsor, CHS, Inc., keynote speaker Joe Nayquonabe with Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures and all of the members who shared in the special night.

2019 Minnesota Chamber of Commerce Federation Policies

Nicole Bengtson
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Advocacy & Public Policy

2019 Minnesota Chamber of Commerce Federation Priorities

 Tax Competitiveness

We support a pro-growth tax system that improves competitiveness, reduces complexity, improves predictability and stability, and increases accountability. Minnesota’s state and local tax systems should be changed to ensure they cultivate innovation, attract investment and foster job growth and retention.   Minnesota must enact a more competitive, pro-growth, simplified tax system and lower tax rates so Minnesota is no longer in the top 10 states for high taxes.

Key Priorities:

  • Return any state revenue gains realized from federal tax conformity by enacting state tax reform that improves Minnesota’s tax competitiveness.
  • Reduce corporate and individual income tax rates so Minnesota is no longer in top 10 highest tax rate states.
  • Enact tax relief for pass-through entities by reducing rates for business income and adopt federal conformity with expensing rules.
  • Conform to federal estate tax.
  • Protect research-and-development tax credit.
  • Reduce state property tax levy so Minnesota businesses no longer have property tax burdens that are among the nation’s 10 most burdensome.
  • Improve taxpayer procedural protections and administration.

Control Health Care Costs

Ensure access to quality, affordable health care in the commercial market by reducing health care taxes and mandates; expanding product and coverage options for employers and individuals; increasing market competition and stability; encouraging outcome-based payment and delivery reform; and improving consumer engagement and transparency of cost and quality.

Key Priorities:

  • Improve care outcomes and reduce costs by aligning Minnesota’s Health Records Act with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
  • Oppose making government-sponsored health insurance options like MinnesotaCare available through a “buy-in” option.  This will increase costs and lead to further instability of the commercial market, particularly the individual and group markets.  Instead, strengthen and continue to stabilize the individual market through an extension of the state’s reinsurance program, which has led to back-to-back premium decreases in the individual market.

Preserve Private Sector Employers’ Benefits (Preemption)

Minnesota employers are nationally recognized for providing the best places to work.  In today’s tight labor market, they provide competitive benefits that help attract and retain talent, tailored to the distinctive needs of their industries and workforce.  Local governments are right to impose certain requirements on public sector workplaces and local government employees, but enacting employee wage and benefit mandates on private employers is outside city authority.  We will aggressively pursue opportunities to advance statewide preemption of local mandates.  We will advance and protect employer efforts to develop their own distinctive approaches to competitive employee benefits. We oppose attempts by state policymakers to implement mandates at the state level without including reasonable exceptions for the variety and nuances of the many workplaces across Minnesota.

We support broadly sharing employers’ best practices so all businesses in the state are aware of voluntary approaches to compete for and retain the best employees and maintain progressive workplaces. State and local policymakers should be encouraging this trend and not imposing one-size-fits-all mandates that don’t work for employers or workers.

Full Dedication of Transportation-Related Revenues

The 2017 Legislature passed the largest transportation funding bill in nearly a decade. Nearly $2 billion of transportation-related sales taxes will be captured and directed to the state’s transportation system over the next 10 years.  This includes 100% of the revenues generated from the sales tax on rental cars and approximately 60% of revenues generated from the sales tax on auto parts. The Minnesota Chamber has been a strong advocate for the investment of these transportation-related general fund resources in transportation infrastructure and services. We support the full dedication of the auto parts sales tax to transportation.

We are committed to a multimodal system, including investment in transit. We will work with the Legislature to resolve the long-term funding challenges around the metro bus system and support greater Minnesota transit as well.

Workforce Solutions

We will work to accelerate private-sector solutions to help Minnesota employers attract and retain the skilled workers needed to compete.  We will work to continue to build and deploy programs through the Center for Workforce Solutions, like the Business Education Networks, in partnership with our Federation partners.  Legislative solutions should focus on ensuring existing funding and programs meet the needs of Minnesota employers and the diversity of industries in our state.

 

 

Dakota County Commissioner Voter Guides

Nicole Bengtson
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Advocacy & Public Policy, Business Ideas, Editorials

2018 Dakota County Commissioner Candidates

The following questions were developed and used from the 2018 Election Candidate Questionnaire and East Metro Voters Guide. 

Kathleen Gaylord

Bio: I am the Chair of the Dakota County Board of Commissioners. I am an attorney/partner in the law firm of Weinblatt & Gaylord in Inver Grove Heights and the former Senior Corporate Counsel for Northwest Airlines. I am also the former Executive Director of the Minnesota Tax Study Commission where I built the first computer simulation of Minnesota’s property tax system and was instrumental in bringing “Circuit Breaker” property tax relief to Minnesota. Tens of thousands of Dakota County residents have received tax refunds from the Minnesota Property Tax Refund and Renters Credit that evolved from my work.

I am also the former Mayor of South St. Paul. I have over 30 years of public policy experience leading local, regional, state, and national organizations with the skills and experience to deliver smart, creative solutions and real results.

I attended Macalester College as a math major, earned a B.A. degree in economics Magna Cum Laude and continued my post-graduate studies in Business Taxation and Public Administration at the University of Minnesota before earning my Juris Doctorate from William Mitchell College of Law.

What is the biggest challenge facing your district and how would you address it?

Two of the communities in my district are struggling financially. I have recognized that challenge and have worked to keep county taxes as low as possible to help residents already burdened by high city taxes. I have also stepped up to offer a wide range of county services to benefit these communities and sought out grant and funding strategies to help them with trails, road improvements, wetlands restoration and economic development.

What would be your top three priorities if elected?

  1. Addressing the challenges we face with smart, creative solutions.
  2. Maintaining our high-quality services and our leadership in controlling county property taxes.
  3. Listening to all voices and building coalitions and partnerships to move the county forward.

What do you believe are the most essential services provided by county government?

Dakota County provides 225 programs and services to county residents, including record keeping, emergency services, veterans services, public safety, public health, elections, transportation, parks and libraries… but the most essential services are the human services provided by community and social services. These services include child protection, emergency assistance, food supports, housing and economic assistance, and other safety net services.

Todd Podgorski

Bio: I have been fortunate to serve South St. Paul as a two-term City Council Member and a one-term School Board Member. On the City Council, I supported and helped lead our voter-approved parks and Doug Woog arena improvement bond referendum. I am also proud to have supported hiring two additional police officers and a Sgt during my time on the Council. Working on the South St. Paul Economic Development Authority to assist with economic development and job growth, has been a highlight. While I was on the School Board I helped support a voter-approved operating levy that helped us reduce class sizes, improve discipline with having a planning room at the H.S., and having all-day kindergarten with no fee years before the state covered the full cost.

I earn a living as a peace officer in one of the state’s largest and most diverse counties. As a peace officer for over 20 years, I understand the importance of public safety. My background as a long time CIT-Crisis Intervention Trained officer dealing with mental health emergencies gives me a unique understanding of our shortage of mental health and chemical dependency treatment options.

What is the biggest challenge facing your district and how would you address it?

There are many important issues facing our district. I am passionate about keeping our community safe and believe the County has not done enough to help with our district’s crime concerns. With 4,900 active criminal warrants in Dakota County we need a dedicated warrant apprehension team to help bring justice to victims. We also need to better serve people in our community who have mental health and or chemical dependency concerns. We can better serve these people by providing supportive 16 bed or smaller treatment centers.

What would be your top three priorities if elected?

  1. Enhancing public safety and health.
  2. Improving roads and infrastructure.
  3. Fostering job creation, economic development and housing options.

What do you believe are the most essential services provided by county government?

Public safety and health. Roads and infrastructure.

 

November Business Lunch Focuses its Menu on Drug Trends

Nicole Bengtson
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Business Ideas, Editorials, Event News, Marketing

Food for Thought, Business Luncheon Open to the Public

Inver Grove Heights, MN (October 23, 2018) – The River Heights Chamber of Commerce started its new business luncheon series, Food for Thought, when it launched their new brand in August, with the purpose to include all area businesses, not only Chamber members, in a once a month event. The River Heights Chamber is about working together and building relationships – businesses [all of us] benefit when we work together and know what’s going on in our community, so we [the Chamber] want to gather more businesses and leaders from the community together for an hour and a half on a monthly basis. “It is one of our Board’s goals to emphasize the Chamber’s inclusivity, so to have a welcome forum open to the public (businesses, schools, individuals) that will feature various business-related topics and speakers for the community to collaborate, network and learn from one another, each month, is a great initiative,” says Chairman Brenda Dietrich, co-owner of Hardline Concrete & Masonry.

In November, the River Heights Chamber invites everyone to take part in this important conversation of Drug Trends at the next Food for Thought, on November 20, 2018, from 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at Evolve Workplace in West St. Paul.

“Everyone with an invested interest in Dakota County should attend this informative business luncheon with an Agent from the Dakota County Drug Task Force,” says Nicole Bengtson, Director of Marketing & Communications of the River Heights Chamber of Commerce. You’ll hear all about the current drug trends (what drug is making a comeback, what drug is still a huge problem, edibles, and more on what looks harmless but may not be), get your questions answered and learn some warning signs to watch for whether that be at school, work, home or in your community.

“Drugs are everywhere, no matter what community you live in. They affect everybody, directly or indirectly,” says the Drug Task Force. Be in the know. Stay safe. Help protect your people and your community. Don’t miss it!

Join us to learn more! Register by Friday, November 16 online at www.riverheights.com or by contacting the River Heights Chamber office at 651.451.2266 ext. 1032. Chamber member ($25) or non-member (business, resident, school leader, parent) ($35).

Minnesota House Seats 52A, 52B and 54A Voter Guides

Nicole Bengtson
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Advocacy & Public Policy, Editorials

2018 Minnesota House Seats 52A, 52B and 54A Candidates

The following questions were developed and used from the 2018 Election Candidate Questionnaire and East Metro Voters Guide. 

52A Candidates

Rick Hansen

Bio: B.S. Biology, Upper Iowa University; M.S. Soil Management, Iowa State University; Owner, Harmony Cedar, Inc. 2001-present; Minnesota Department of Agriculture 1989-2004; Dakota County SWCD 1996-2004; Minnesota House of Representatives 2004-present, lead Democrat on Environment and Technology committees.

I ask for your vote for State Representative. I have the experience as a small business owner, local government official, state employee and a farmer. As your current State Representative, I have listened and learned to develop the experience to serve the district well.  We have a lot of work to do and my ability to work on tough subjects and provide solutions is needed.  Problem-solving is in short supply and I ask for your support to apply my knowledge, skills and abilities for you at our Capitol.

What would be your top three priorities if elected? 

  1. Clean Water
  2. Funding for basic infrastructure such as Robert Street debt relief,
    Inflow & Infiltration and local road, bike and pedestrian
    improvements.
  3. Levy equalization for school districts & student debt relief

The Minnesota Constitution states that “[n]o law shall embrace more than one subject, which shall be expressed in its title.” (Article IV, Section 17.) In recent years, the Legislature has passed bills that encompass far more than one subject. According to critics, multi-subject bills make it difficult for legislators to vote on the merits of an issue, for citizens to be informed, and for the Governor to engage productively with Legislature. Would you support reforms to the legislative process to prohibit consolidating all omnibus spending bills into one large omnibus bill? 

Yes.

Do you support moving the state primary election from August to June in order to improve voter turnout and maximize the time candidates spend with general election voters? 

No.

Beth Arntson

Bio: I have broad state government experience working 35 years in 10+ state agencies as Human Resources professional, director and manager. My experience in these agencies included Employment, Economic Development, Transportation, K-12 Education, Higher Education, Natural Resources, Vocational Rehabilitation, Trade, Human Services, and other state programmatic and administrative issues. I am running because I was recruited by the local BPOU and want to help change the direction the Democrats are leading Minnesota in health care, school funding, and spending in state government without proper oversight and accountability such as MENLARS and the child care fraud.

What would be your top three priorities if elected? 

  1. Equalization of school funding across districts
  2. Eliminate taxes on social security
  3. Protect property rights and eliminate burdensome regulations

The Minnesota Constitution states that “[n]o law shall embrace more than one subject, which shall be expressed in its title.” (Article IV, Section 17.) In recent years, the Legislature has passed bills that encompass far more than one subject. According to critics, multi-subject bills make it difficult for legislators to vote on the merits of an issue, for citizens to be informed, and for the Governor to engage productively with Legislature. Would you support reforms to the legislative process to prohibit consolidating all omnibus spending bills into one large omnibus bill? 

Yes.

Do you support moving the state primary election from August to June in order to improve voter turnout and maximize the time candidates spend with general election voters? 

No.

52B Candidates

Ruth Richardson

Bio: I earned my law degree from William Mitchell College of Law and have experience working in senior leadership positions in the government, non-profit, and private sectors.  I’ve worked as a business attorney, in disability rights, and to support small, minority-, and women-owned businesses.  I have worked with bipartisan groups to advance legislation to support homeless veterans, people with disabilities, paraprofessional educators in schools, social workers, and people with substance use disorders.  Currently, I work as the Director of Programs and National Strategic Initiatives for the Minnesota Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.  I have worked as a community faculty member for Metropolitan State University.  Also, I serve on the Minnesota Judicial Branch’s Committee for Equality and Justice, the Minnesota Department of Human Services Behavioral Health Planning Council, as co-chair for the DHS African American Birth Outcomes Task Force, and the Minnesota Department of Health’s Healthy Equity and Leadership Advisory Committee. I am a past chairperson of the Minnesota Board of Social Work and current chairperson of Ampersand Families.  I am also a member of the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s Interagency Coordinating Committee on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Justice Workgroup.

What would be your top three priorities if elected? 

  1. Ensuring all Minnesotans have access to affordable and quality healthcare
  2. Investing in early childhood, K-12, and post-secondary education
  3. Ensuring we are investing in small business development and infrastructure

The Minnesota Constitution states that “[n]o law shall embrace more than one subject, which shall be expressed in its title.” (Article IV, Section 17.) In recent years, the Legislature has passed bills that encompass far more than one subject. According to critics, multi-subject bills make it difficult for legislators to vote on the merits of an issue, for citizens to be informed, and for the Governor to engage productively with Legislature. Would you support reforms to the legislative process to prohibit consolidating all omnibus spending bills into one large omnibus bill? 

Yes.

Do you support moving the state primary election from August to June in order to improve voter turnout and maximize the time candidates spend with general election voters? 

Yes.

Regina Barr

Bio: My husband and I have lived in Inver Grove Heights for 20 years. I am a small business owner, am active in the River Heights Chamber of Commerce, and previously served on the IGH Convention and Visitors Bureau. My business background, extensive nonprofit experience, and a solid first term as State Representative delivering results for our communitylike tax relief, fully funding our schools, and lowering health insurance costsprove that I have the broad range of experience necessary to serve effectively.  I believe effective leaders prioritize results over partisanship. If re-elected, I will be committed to working with those on both sides of the aisle to deliver results for our community. I recently received the Housing First Leadership Award and the NFIB Small Business Guardian Award. In addition, I have received endorsements from a number of organizations including: the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49, North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters, Care Providers of Minnesota PAC, Latino American Today, Dakota County Regional Chamber PAC, Builders Association of the Twin Cities’ Housing First PAC, the MN Chamber Leadership PAC, and the Southeast Metro Business PAC.

What would be your top three priorities if elected? 

If re-elected, I will prioritize:

  1. Making health care more affordable
  2. Delivering middle-class tax relief
  3. Ensuring that Minnesota families have access to affordable childcare

The Minnesota Constitution states that “[n]o law shall embrace more than one subject, which shall be expressed in its title.” (Article IV, Section 17.) In recent years, the Legislature has passed bills that encompass far more than one subject. According to critics, multi-subject bills make it difficult for legislators to vote on the merits of an issue, for citizens to be informed, and for the Governor to engage productively with Legislature. Would you support reforms to the legislative process to prohibit consolidating all omnibus spending bills into one large omnibus bill? 

Yes.

Do you support moving the state primary election from August to June in order to improve voter turnout and maximize the time candidates spend with general election voters? 

Yes.

54A Candidates

Anne Claflin

Bio: I bring the experience and passion to serve the people of our district well.  A graduate of South Saint Paul High School, I chose to live here with my husband Warren and my son William – a fifth-generation native of this district.

For my career in science and policy, I earned my bachelor’s degrees in Russian and Biology and a Master of Science degree in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy from the University of Minnesota.  For twelve years, I have worked as a scientist at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, analyzing greenhouse gases and the policies’ effects on climate change.

I lead my MAPE union local as president, and mentor women in science – helping girls with the Girl Scouts and women at the University of Minnesota, and leading Hamline University’s Women in Public Service Conference. As a scientist, I am prepared to support data-driven, evidence-based decisions.  As a working mother and union leader, I am prepared to fight for women and working families. As a listening leader, I am prepared to collaborate to build our community. I have the talent, experience and drive to build a vibrant economy and a healthy environment where we have the freedom to pursue our dreams – together.

What would be your top three priorities if elected? 

  1. Protecting clean, safe drinking water and a healthy environment is my highest priority.  As an environmental scientist, I will ensure cleaning up our water happens now and happens right.  I will act to protect our waters; hold those responsible accountable, and make sure this never happens again.  We have a right to a healthy environment – clean water to drink, clean air to breathe, natural areas for people and wildlife.  A clean environment supports Minnesota’s vibrant economy and helps create good jobs that can’t be sent overseas: jobs in clean energy and our great natural heritage – hunting, fishing, and the outdoors industry.
  2. Fighting for our students to get a world-class education is critical to protecting Minnesota’s legacy of educational excellence and supporting job growth right here.  I will support learning from early childhood through career training. I will ensure that our students and teachers have the classroom and supportive resources they need to create the next generation of leaders – business owners, lawyers, scientists, people working in the trades.  Our children have unlimited potential – let’s help them reach it.
  3. Building a vibrant economy that works for us all means protecting the freedom to pursue our dreams and care for our loved ones.   I will work for affordable health care that won’t bankrupt you if you get sick. I will fight to ensure paid family leave, earned sick time, wage theft protections, and affordable childcare to help families get ahead.  I will defend the freedom to have a fair shake – to join together, negotiate, and speak up for better pay and better working conditions. I will work to un-rig the economy, close corporate tax loopholes, and make the American dream achievable again.

The Minnesota Constitution states that “[n]o law shall embrace more than one subject, which shall be expressed in its title.” (Article IV, Section 17.) In recent years, the Legislature has passed bills that encompass far more than one subject. According to critics, multi-subject bills make it difficult for legislators to vote on the merits of an issue, for citizens to be informed, and for the Governor to engage productively with Legislature. Would you support reforms to the legislative process to prohibit consolidating all omnibus spending bills into one large omnibus bill? 

Yes.

Do you support moving the state primary election from August to June in order to improve voter turnout and maximize the time candidates spend with general election voters? 

Yes.

Keith Franke

Bio: I was born, raised and lived in every city in district 54A and have family living all throughout the district.  I am a father of two and a grandfather of two granddaughters.  I am running for office because I believe in giving the people in our district an honest, common sense voice in our state government.  I have a proven record of collaboration with other lawmakers and put principle over politics.  I have a wide variety of life and work experiences which give me a unique insight into many social and economic challenges that people in our district face.

What would be your top three priorities if elected? 

My top priorities if elected include:

  1. Making sure funds designated by the 3M settlement to ensure water quality for our residents, are kept in our district and spent effectively to provide future generations with water safety and sustainability. 
  2. Quality affordable health care and health insurance is a priority for me.  We need to bring everyone to the table to find solutions to our current problems by looking at prescription drug costs, the disparity in health procedure costs, transparency in billing and giving people options to make choices about their own healthcare. 
  3.  I would like to continue the work on eliminating taxes on social security income for low and median income seniors with a goal being total elimination of taxes on all social security income. 

The Minnesota Constitution states that “[n]o law shall embrace more than one subject, which shall be expressed in its title.” (Article IV, Section 17.) In recent years, the Legislature has passed bills that encompass far more than one subject. According to critics, multi-subject bills make it difficult for legislators to vote on the merits of an issue, for citizens to be informed, and for the Governor to engage productively with Legislature. Would you support reforms to the legislative process to prohibit consolidating all omnibus spending bills into one large omnibus bill? 

Yes.

Do you support moving the state primary election from August to June in order to improve voter turnout and maximize the time candidates spend with general election voters? 

Yes.

***Information Supplied by Minnesota Business Community 2018 Election Candidate Questionnaire

Inver Grove Heights Mayoral Voter Guides

Nicole Bengtson
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Advocacy & Public Policy, Editorials

2018 Inver Grove Heights Mayoral Candidates

The following questions were developed and used from the 2018 Election Candidate Questionnaire and East Metro Voters Guide. 

Jonathan Weber

Bio: Reliable, honest, loyal and resourceful are defining characteristics of who I am.  With over 20 years of business experience, my passion originates from being an entrepreneur who is committed to creative problem solving and thoughtful leadership aiding me both personally and professionally to be the best father, son, husband, brother, friend, neighbor, business owner, and leader I can be.  I take great pride in all things I am involved in, specifically within my current role as an IGH Planning Commissioner serving our community these past two years. This experience has allowed me to expand my servant leadership philosophies, which enriches lives, builds better organizations, and ultimately contributes to the creation of a more just and caring community.

What is the biggest challenge facing the city and how would you address it?

Development.  As a planning commissioner, I have seen the new developments coming into our city and one major thing they are missing is a park or trails to a park.  As Mayor, I would work with developers to create spaces for families to gather and play at. I feel this has been a major miss in our current developments.  When families are looking to move to our city we need to make sure the basics are there for them.

What would be your top three priorities if elected?

  1. Residential and Business Development.
  2. Safe Schools and Safe Environments for our citizens.
  3. The Health of our city and its citizens.

Are there any services currently provided by the city that you believe should be cut back or eliminated? Or, are there new opportunities to share services with other entities?

I do not feel we have any services that the city provides that need to be cut back or eliminated.  I do see with new development that we will have lots of new opportunities and work together with neighboring cities to share services.

George Tourville

Bio: I grew up in South St. Paul and attended the University of Minnesota before being trained as a medic in the USAF. I worked as a Paramedic at Divine Redeemer and served on the IGH Fire Department for 26 years. I worked in the Telecom Area for 22 years and retired from Short Elliott Hendrickson in October 2017. I worked as a Sales Manager for most of that time interfacing with businesses large and small gaining valuable business experience. We have lived in IGH for 44 years serving on the City Council for 21 years and as Mayor for 14 years. I am a member of the River Heights Chamber of Commerce, Progress Plus and serve as Chair of the NDCTV Cable Commission, Dakota County 9-1-1 Board and Dakota County Broadband Board. I have served on numerous committees at LMC and Metro Cities in Transportation, General Government and Telecom. I am active in our Church (Good Shepherd), Neighbors Inc., grandchildren activities and youth sports programs. My wife, Barbara, and I have three adult children and 7 grandchildren all living in IGH. I am respectful, accountable, experienced, and involved in our City, I promise to work hard to make IGH a better place to live, work, play, and learn.

What is the biggest challenge facing the city and how would you address it?

The biggest challenge facing Inver Grove Heights and all other cities is balancing revenues to our services and budget; now and into the future. We need to maintain and grow the City’s Tax Base, so we can support the services and programs our city needs and desires. IGH needs 5 to build on our economic and city strengths to support ongoing growth in housing, retail, commercial and industrial across the entire community. 

What would be your top three priorities if elected?

  1. Strengthening city services through the responsible use of taxpayer dollars; while keeping taxes affordable in Inver Grove Heights. My highest priority is making sure our City Departments are well staffed, have the equipment and facilities they need and are well trained to serve the citizens and businesses of IGH. 
  2.  Grow our Tax Base and add quality development and jobs. We can do this by using the strengths we have to promote new development in housing, commercial, industrial and retail. Helping existing businesses to grow, prosper and add jobs. Continue to work with Dakota County, CDA, MnDOT and private developers to plan, build and complete the transportation plans in our Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). This will allow us to grow our Tax Base and add the services that citizens are looking for.  
  3.  Increase communications with citizens and businesses by improving the Cities INSIGHTS Publication, better social media presence with Facebook and Twitter, continue to improve the city’s website and work with Town Square TV on good cable coverage and promotions.

 Are there any services currently provided by the city that you believe should be cut back or eliminated? Or, are there new opportunities to share services with other entities?

We review services, staffing and programs on an annual basis for additional efficiencies and cost savings. We also evaluate if shared services, partnerships and or additional Joint Powers Agreements could save money.