Edward Reynoso, who represents most of Anoka County, says expanded affordable mass transportation is vital.
Edward Reynoso eagerly anticipates the building of a Northstar commuter rail line stop in Ramsey. He sees it as a shining example of his philosophy that transportation projects can be a key stimulator of economic growth for cities and counties.
His commitment to such ideas have won him an appointment to the Metropolitan Council, the regional planning agency for the Twin Cities seven-county metropolitan area. The council and its 17-member board work with local communities to provide services such as Metro Transit, wastewater treatment, affordable housing and planning of parks and trails. They also engage communities in planning for future growth.
In March, Reynoso, 48, of Ham Lake, was selected to represent the Met Council's District 9, which covers about 95 percent of Anoka County. He's only been a Minnesotan for eight years, but the former southern Californian has a passion for the region.
"The people are second to none," he said. "It's a great place and I want to make it a better place."
Since 2009, Reynoso has been political director and special projects coordinator for the Teamsters Joint Council 32 in Minneapolis. He also serves on the Governor's Workforce Development Council, the Workers Compensation Advisory Council, the Minnesota HealthCare Task Force and Governor's Job Skills Partnership.
Reynoso passed several applicant screening processes before he and another finalist were presented to Gov. Mark Dayton for his selection. Reynoso believes his experience in the transportation industry and community involvement worked to his advantage.
"One of the top issues facing the region is transportation," he said. "Growth in affordable transportation, be it [rail] or bus transit, is extremely important."
He would like to see Anoka County focus on streamlining transportation and some specific infrastructure issues, such as the frequent bottlenecks on Hwy. 10 through Anoka and Ramsey. As the county's population has grown during the last 20 years, the county's roads haven't always been able to keep up, he said.
While Anoka County's issues may be no different than its neighboring counties' concerns, each county is vying for elusive dollars to fund improvement and development projects, said Reynoso. As a Met Council member, he might be able to give an edge to Anoka County and its residents.
This is why he's so excited by the Northstar commuter rail stop in Ramsey, which recently received $13.2 million. He called it a model for economic development.
"I would like to see what happens around that stop in five or 10 years," he said. "It would be great if people could get off the train and walk to a place to pick up their dry cleaning and shop for groceries."
When he was named to the Met Council, Reynoso started attending area City Council meetings and introducing himself, looking to start building relationships with local elected officials. He also worked his way onto the council's environment, transportation and audit committees.
"The council's mission is [to] assist cities and help them with long-term growth plans addressing transportation and livability issues," he said. "We assist rather than demand."
Now he's attending nearly a dozen council meetings each month, trying to balance the new workload with quality time with his wife and four children and his favorite hobby, boating.
"I could have easily been content with my work with the Teamsters and just sat back," he said. But "I want to be involved in the community.
"When I leave the council, I want to know I was part of a foundation that made our cities and counties a better place for my kids and grandchildren."
David Chanen • 612-673-4465