Q&A with Washington County Commissioner District 3 incumbent Gary Kriesel
• Age: 73
• City of residence: Stillwater
• Years lived in district: 53 years
• Education: Stillwater High School; St. Paul Vocational Technical Institute, apprenticeship program
• Occupation: County commissioner, District 3; retired senior area specialist, Northern States Power, 33 years; U.S. Navy Veteran.
• Notable community and civic involvement: chair of Audit Advisory Committee and Finance Committee; served on 16 Metro and Washington County committees, including Law Library Board, Planning Advisory Commission, Regional Railroad Authority, Parks and Open Space Commission and Personnel Committee; member of Minnesota Inter-County Association, Metropolitan Energy Coalition and Ramsey/Washington Recycling and Energy Board.
Why are you running for office in Washington County Commissioner District 3?
It has been an honor representing the people in District 3. During my time in office I have built positive relationships with citizens, business owners, and community leaders in Washington County and beyond.
District 3 covers a large area, and the people who live and work here have a diverse set of interests and concerns. I have worked hard on behalf of them and have been a strong voice for fiscal discipline making sure their hard-earned tax dollars are well spent.
I have received overwhelming support and positive feedback from residents and leaders, including endorsements from all 12 mayors and town board chairs in District 3 who urged me to run again.
I look forward to building on those relationships and want to continue to make Washington County a great place to live, work and play.
What are the biggest issues in the district you're running for?
I believe the most important issues are transportation, environment, fiscal management, and economic development. We need to: be ready to handle increasing traffic demands by investing in roads; protect our drinking water; spend all tax dollars wisely; and grow jobs through increased economic development.
How do you plan to address these issues if elected?
By investing in infrastructure to keep our roads safe and to handle increased traffic loads. In conjunction with the completion of the St. Croix River Crossing, conduct a comprehensive regional traffic study to examine traffic patterns and identify needed improvements. Ensure the county's five-year capital improvement plan includes the road needs of District 3.
We also need to protect our groundwater. I have spearheaded a program that secured state funding for grants to provide financial assistance—low-interest to no-interest loans—to replace failed septic systems. I will continue to seek state funding support to expand the program.
We need to make wise investments while maintaining the highest credit rating possible (AAA) and a low tax rate—second-lowest of the seven metro counties. I will continue to keep the tax burden low on families and businesses, while maintaining the quality of life and services we have come to expect living in the county.
Economic development: Work with local communities as a resource to help increase the number of jobs and tax base. We can help by ensuring a climate that encourages that private sector job growth.
What distinguishes you from the other candidate?
All 12 mayors and town board chairs in District 3 have endorsed me in this race. During my time as county commissioner, I have forged positive relationships with elected officials, government agencies, business leaders and residents.
I have a reputation for collaborating and working toward solutions, which has earned the trust and respect of local leaders.
I will continue to work hard, listen to residents and advocate for the needs of the district and its residents.