County candidates speak at forum
Voters - too few of them - heard from a pair of aspiring county commissioners Tuesday evening at Central Park amphitheatre in Woodbury.
Candidates Cheryl Anderson and Stan Karwoski each are seeking election to the District 2 seat that was left vacant by the death of County Commissioner Ted Bearth earlier this year. They spoke at a candidates forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Woodbury-Cottage Grove. The audience numbered about a dozen.
Their respective resumes may be the deciding factor in the November election. The two seemed to agree on most issues, meaning that voters may elect the person they feel has the more relevant experience.
Karwoski is the mayor of Oakdale and served on Oakdale City Council for 12 years. He is a member and former chairman of the Washington County Park and Open Space Commission. He said his 18 years of experience have given him the critical thinking skills to manage a $200 million county budget.
Anderson, of Birchwood, is a licensed social worker with more than 30 years experience working with individuals with developmental or intellectual disabilities or mental illness. She is administrator/owner of Social Service Solutions, a staffing agency in Roseville that provides professional in-home care.
She served on the Washington County Citizens Review Panel for Child Protection Services and the Community Advisory Committee and spent 14 years as a member of the board of directors for Ally People Solutions, a nonprofit that provides support and job training for people with disabilities.
Anderson and Karwoski said they both support the Gold Line (aka Gateway Corridor) bus-rapid transit, but they understood that it continues to be controversial.
“It's a vital area,” Karwoski said. “I think we have to work out a lot of details. A lot of residents who live there have concerns.”
“If I was commissioner it would be the number one task - get feedback from individuals in District 2,” Anderson said.
Both said economic development is key to lessening the property tax burden on residents, particularly senior citizens, especially since the state legislature has failed to deliver money to the county in its last two sessions.
Karwoski cited his connections in the state capital, including his working relationships with Sen. Susan Kent, DFL-Woodbury.
Anderson is hardly a stranger to that milieu, however .
“I do have experience lobbying at the capitol, lobbying for social service organizations,” she said. She said she would consider hiring an additional legislative liaison to give the county more of a voice with the state. The county currently has one such position under contract.
Both said that, as county commissioner, they would treat their elected position as a full-time job.
“I retired in June,” Karwoski said. “It really takes a full time commitment.”
Anderson said she would turn over the day to day operations of her business to someone else.
“Everybody would have me 100 percent, “ she said.
Each would also seek re-election after serving the remaining two years of the deceased Bearth’s seat.
District 2 includes the communities of Birchwood, Pine Springs, Willernie, Landfall and Oakdale, as well as the portion of White Bear Lake that is within Washington County, Precinct 2 of Mahtomedi, and Woodbury precincts 1, 2 and 7.
The League of Women Voters also invited District 5 candidates to participate in the forum. But incumbent Lisa Weik, who is running unopposed, donated her time to the other candidates and sat in the audience.