Two experienced city council members are competing for the chance to succeed Joe Harris as the District 1 commissioner.
For the first time in 32 years, the District 1 seat on the Dakota County Board is up for grabs.
Two city council members -- Christy Jo Fogarty of Farmington and Mike Slavik of Hastings -- are vying for it.
Six of the board's seven seats are open to election due to the redrawing of board district boundaries following the 2010 census. The District 1 seat is wide open because Commissioner Joe Harris is retiring after 32 years.
As the county's largest and most varied district, District 1 encompasses more than half of the county's land. Four of the county's five regional parks are located there. It is predominantly farmland, with 13 townships and parts of nine cities, including Farmington and Hastings.
The challenge for the District 1 commissioner is to serve both rural and suburban interests. Fogarty and Slavik say they would do this by keeping in close contact with local officials.
The District 1 County Board race: For profiles of the candidates to replace longtime board member Joe Harris, turn to page N3.
Fogarty, 42, has lived in Dakota County for 13 years. She was first elected to the Farmington City Council in 2003 and has served for almost 10 years.
The Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack was her motivation to seek the council seat, Fogarty said. "That is when my political career started -- feeling the need to serve my community somehow,'' she said.
In her nearly 10 years on the council, she has also been a member of the Empire Farmington Joint Planning Committee, the State Board of Soil and Water Resources, the Farmington Park and Rec Task Force, and the Vermillion River Watershed Planning Commission. She is now the chair of the Farmington Economic Development Authority.
She also has served in a number of volunteer roles, including as an annual judge of salsa recipes at the Dakota County Fair.
She decided to run for the county board because she has so thoroughly enjoyed serving on the city council.
"When Commissioner Harris decided to not run again, I saw an opportunity to serve at a higher level," she said.
Fogarty is running without party affiliation and believes that non-partisan races should not carry party endorsements. She describes herself as someone with conservative roots. "I have been a fiscal conservative for a long time."
As a commissioner, she would expect the county to always be looking for ways to do things more efficiently and effectively, she said.
In her private life, Fogarty works as one of the first dental therapists in the country, handling expanded duties in dentistry like a nurse practitioner does in medicine. She works in a nonprofit clinic for children and says, "I love my job.''
Because her hours are flexible, she said she would continue to work if elected to the county board.
Fogarty's website says she believes in open and transparent government and in keeping taxes down. She is an advocate of parks and trails.
She and her husband, Steven Fogarty, a Minneapolis police officer, have three teenagers: Ashley, 17, Christopher, 15 and Thomas, 13.
As a parent, she has served as a soccer coach and a school classroom volunteer.
Slavik, 34, has served for six years on the Hastings City Council. After some community members saw his cooperative approach to city government, Slavik said, they asked him to run for the county board.
He works as a real estate agent and owns a laundromat in Blue Earth. His roots in Dakota County's District 1 stretch back to the late 1860s, when members of his family began farming there.
Slavik's grandparents moved to Hastings in 1941. He was born and raised there. After graduating from Hastings High School, he earned a political science degree from St. John's University.
He claims to have knocked on the doors of more than 12,000 residences in the course of the campaign. His wife, Maria, accompanies him on weekends; they have no children.
Transportation needs would be one of his priorities as a county board member, Slavik said. It's a matter of public safety to have good, safe roads for residents and businesses, he said.
Slavik said he also is not affiliated with a political party. "I firmly believe that these are non-partisan positions for a reason, and you should keep the politics out of the county board.
"What I have been telling people is that with me as a commissioner, you are going to get somebody who is going to work hard and give you an honest answer, whether you like it or not. It's been the model of Joe Harris, and it's a model that I would follow."
Laurie Blake • 952-746-3287