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Weik: Much work still to be done

Lisa Weik is running unopposed for her District 5 seat, but the county commissioner said she isn't taking anything for granted.

Weik said she's been out knocking on doors to learn what's on the minds of voters in her district.

"I like to touch base directly with people," she said. "I don't like to seem complacent."

Last month, Weik attended a League of Women Voters candidate forum at the Central Park amphitheater in Woodbury. She was invited to speak, but gave her time to candidates Stan Karwoski and Cheryl Anderson, who are vying to fill the District 2 seat left vacant by the death of Ted Bearth.

Whoever wins, their first order of business will be to work with Weik and the other three commissioners on passing a budget in December.

"Adopting the annual budget is the most important responsibility of the county board," Weik said.

Their sound fiscal management has earned the county two AAA bond ratings. Only a handful of counties nationwide can make that claim, she said.

South Washington County is projected to grow by 100,000 new residents by 2030. This growth will require the county to add infrastructure while maintaining quality services, particularly to the increasing number of residents who are turning 65.

"The aging demographic of course can place increased pressure on our safety net programs," she said. "We will need an emphasis on serving a diverse population."

The county library system also needs to be upgraded and improved to reflect the wants and needs of residents, she said. Their two-year strategic plan could include building new library branches, and perhaps even constructing a central flagship building.

Infrastructure and transportation will continue to be priorities as the region grows. Within the county, that means redesigning some roads where residential and commercial development has overtaken capacity. As an example, Weik cited improvements to Radio Drive (also known as County Highway 19) north of Tamarack Road.

Weik chairs the the Gateway Corridor Commission, the body tasked with implementing the Gold Line bus-rapid transit service that will connect Union Depot Station in St. Paul, passing through Maplewood, Landfall, Oakdale and Woodbury near Interstate 94. An all-day bus service would reduce road congestion and provide local businesses with a larger employee pool, since workers without cars could still commute to jobs in Woodbury from the Twin Cities.

A tight labor market is proving to be a challenge.

"Woodbury is the economic engine of Washington County," Weik said.

William Loeffler

William Loeffler is a playwright and journalist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He worked 15 years writing features for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has also written travel stories based on his trips to all seven continents. He and his wife, Michelle, ran the Boston Marathon in 2009. 

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