Q&A with Woodbury City Council challenger Edward Nemetz
• Age: 58
• Address: 9447 Newcastle Road
• Occupation: Civil/structural engineering manager
• Education: Bachelor's of civil engineering, University of Minnesota, bachelor's of arts (architecture), University of Minnesota, master's of business administration (MBA), finance, University of St. Thomas
• Family: Married with two adult children
• Civic involvement: Woodbury Planning Commission: 2009-2014, Chairman 2014
Why are you running for Woodbury City Council?
I am running for City Council because I enjoyed my involvement with the city during the six years that I served on the Woodbury Planning Commission. I especially liked having the opportunity to work with city stakeholders and listen to the concerns of residents during public hearings, at city meetings and workshops. I want to have the opportunity to continue to engage with the Woodbury community and work to address issues that are important to the city's future.
What are the biggest issues or challenges Woodbury faces?
One of the biggest challenges that Woodbury faces is to ensure that it attracts a strong share of the economic growth in the Twin Cities by directing a significant part of that growth toward the east metro area. The Twin Cities expects to see a great deal of growth in the future, but it is important for Woodbury and its surrounding communities to achieve a level of growth that brings high-quality jobs to the area.
Woodbury has been one of the most successful communities in Minnesota because of strong leadership and careful planning throughout its history. As the city reaches full development and the pace of new residential housing construction on open land slows down, the city must focus on other ways to sustain economic growth and expand employment options. This is necessary to add to the tax base so that the city can maintain its delivery of highly rated services without excessive property tax increases.
The Twin Cities are seeing demographic changes that will transform the type of development and services that are needed for the future. The proportion of senior citizens is increasing, and the population as a whole is growing more socially and economically diverse. Woodbury needs to ensure that it will adapt to the changes and remain a community that addresses future housing needs, employment access, and availability of city services that will be required.
How do you plan to address these issues?
I will work with city staff and the advisory commissions to continue city policies and goals that encourage planned growth and development. I will work with neighboring communities and regional agencies to encourage growth of economic opportunities for the east metro area.
In order to attract businesses and grow the tax base, Woodbury needs to continue to support the delivery of city services that make it a great place to live and do business. I will support efforts to improve public safety, transportation, road maintenance, parks and trails, water supply quality and recreation programs.
Woodbury needs to work with developers and property owners to encourage redevelopment and reinvestment within the city. Where there are opportunities to develop new uses for properties and update current developments, I will take a pragmatic approach to encouraging investments that revitalize older developments and satisfy the needs of new markets.
I will support the development of a diversity of housing types within the city that includes multifamily and single-family housing options, assisted living facilities, and senior care centers that meet residents' needs throughout all stages of their lives.
Thriving communities need adequate transportation to attract and support businesses and provide access to jobs. I will support the development of roads and public transit systems that are needed to support economic growth to the suburbs east of St. Paul. I plan to support the planning and expansion of the Gateway Corridor (aka Gold Line) bus-rapid transit (BRT), as well as feeder lines to improve public transit services to the east metro and Woodbury. This will add transit options to help employers attract millennials, provide better transit options to students, the elderly, and disabled members of the community, and it will encourage economic development.
What distinguishes you from the other candidates?
During my service on the Woodbury Planning Commission, I had an active role in reviewing many of the development projects that were part of the successful growth of Woodbury. These included residential and commercial projects, parks, and zoning ordinance updates. I participated in numerous public hearings and workshops where I listened to city residents and business leaders express their opinions or concerns about the projects before the city. I am especially interested in having the opportunity to continue to serve Woodbury's residents and address their concerns through work on the city council. I have the experience and commitment to best serve the community and guide Woodbury's future growth.