More change could be coming to Brooklyn Park, and it will start with the city's primary election Tuesday.
After a couple of years that have seen economic growth, a general decrease in crime, and the deaths of the city's mayor, Steve Lampi, and longtime City Council Member Jeanette Meyer, as many as four of the council's seven seats could turn over this year. Change is guaranteed for two.
Each of the city's three council districts has two representatives; one seat in each district is up. The mayor is elected at-large and is not on the ballot this year. However, voters will decide who fills the remainder of Meyer's term.
Four challengers will compete with incumbent Peter Crema on Tuesday for a chance to go to the November general election in the East District. Also Tuesday, West District voters will choose the replacement for Meyer, who died of lung cancer in May. The special election winner will hold that seat through 2014.
Mike Trepanier's Central District seat is up this year, though he and lone challenger Billy Bishop will not face off until November. In the West District, Council Member Dean Heng is stepping down; former Council Member Terry Gearin, Meyer's husband, will face former state Rep. John Jordan in November.
Today, the Star Tribune is publishing answers to questions posed to candidates vying for the council seats on Tuesday's primary ballot.
David A. Anderson
Top issue: Create jobs by cutting taxes and attracting business to come to Brooklyn Park. Police need to work with faith-based organizations and other charity organizations to change the values in the community to reduce crime and improve the quality of life for the community.
Key experience: Member of management teams at Honeywell, Alliant Techsystems, Lockheed Martin for more than 30 years, solving problems.
Peter Crema (incumbent)
Top issue: Livability, due to foreclosure issues, crime, taxes and youth issues. We need to continue our inroads into the foreclosure issue, expand policing efforts, keep taxes down and support all reasonable opportunities for youth.
Key experience: Fifteen years of community service, including four years as council member. The job takes longer to understand and is more time-consuming than people realize.
Top issue: Communication has been neglected, and we let others brand us -- when we need to take charge of our own identity. By dealing with the image problem, working with colleges, neighborhoods, public servants and youth, we can move forward with proactive solutions that solve problems before they start, instead of paying for inaction and wishful thinking later.
Key experience: Longtime reporter/radio broadcaster covering government.
Benard Omwenga Muko
Top issue: Crime. My solution is to stop crime before it happens. Using job creation, education and community policing. I will work to make Brooklyn Park attractive to new businesses and help existing ones expand and grow.
Key experience: I am a longtime small business owner in the city and I believe what I have learned in the process has prepared well, especially the ability to be frugal, and to deal with a diverse clientele.
Top issue: Support for business ownership. Business owners say there is too much "red tape" in their dealings with the City Council and too many regulations about signage. As council member, I'll work with the chambers of commerce and convene business owners to develop workable solutions for meeting their needs and creating jobs.
Key experience: INROADS Career Development, where for six years I managed intern recruitment and placement for Fortune 500 companies in the Twin Cities. I know what's needed to address community and business needs and will do a good job representing the residents of Brooklyn Park.
No response: Joseph Meyer Gearin
West District -- Special Election
Top issue: Runaway city spending and crime. We need to get more help from community and religious leaders. The spending issue can be dealt with by getting rid of unnecessary and duplicated programs, deal with our needs and not our wants, and encourage more retail business to move into Brooklyn Park.
Key experience: Broker/owner of Real Estate Partners of Brooklyn Park Inc., a small business here in the city.
Wynfred N. Russell
Top issue: Reducing crime. I will work to expand community policing initiatives in crime "heat zones" by working with collaborative teams composed of civil society groups, police, prosecutors, faith and community leaders, all organized to address threats to public safety and livability.
Key experience: I am a planning commissioner, executive director of a community-based organization in Brooklyn Park, and board secretary of Envision Minnesota.
Maria Elena Baca 612-673-4409