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Hennepin County beat: County Board counts on top aides

  • Article by: ROCHELLE OLSON
  • Star Tribune
  • December 28, 2012 - 7:04 PM

From the 24th floor of the Hennepin County Government Center, the aides to the elected County Board members usually work in anonymity.

But these policy wonks often are the primary contact when a constituent needs help. Some new staff members have recently appeared alongside the veterans. Among the new arrivals are an aide switching to work for a different board member, a union leader from City Hall and a St. Louis Park City Council member.

1st District: Steve Gershone is young, but he's already been an aide to both Board Chairman Mike Opat and former Commissioner Mark Stenglein. Gershone began as an intern in Stenglein's office in 2008. He became an aide to Opat in the fall because Stenglein left office.

"My main goal is to be an efficient, effective and trusted liaison between my boss and county staff, my boss and the cities and, most importantly, between my boss and the constituents in our district," Gershone said.

2nd District: Tina Sanz is a newcomer to the county after 14 years in Minneapolis City Hall, where she was an assistant city clerk. She also served as president of the 900-member Local 9 AFSCME. Sanz works for Linda Higgins, who is in her first month on the board.

"I've admired the commissioner's work for a long time, and I originally come from north Minneapolis so it gives me a chance to get closer to my roots," Sanz said.

3rd District: Anne Mavity has been a St. Louis Park City Council member since 2010, but knew Commissioner Gail Dorfman through her work as an advocate for the homeless. On the job for less than two months so far, Mavity most recently ran her own consulting business. She spent four years working in Moscow as an advocate for democracy. A self-described problem-solver, Mavity wanted to tackle homelessness from the substantial "platform and perspective" of the county.

4th District: Brian Shekleton is on his second tour as an aide to Commissioner Peter McLaughlin. He started in the office more than a decade ago as an intern. He also worked for four years as a committee administrator in the Minnesota House of Representatives. He returned to the county in 2011. He and McLaughlin "get along pretty well. We understand how each other works," Shekleton said.

5th District: Judy Larson has worked for Commissioner Randy Johnson since 1985 -- seven years after he took office. Before she joined the county, she worked for the late Gov. Rudy Perpich. Of her job, she said, "I like being able to solve problems when constituents hit a roadblock in the system."

6th District: After 20 years as a traveling high-tech salesman, Dave Nuckols said, "I was looking to have another phase of my career that would help me give back more." He began working for Commissioner Jan Callison in January 2009.

7th District: Danny Nadeau has been with Commissioner Jeff Johnson since March 2010, after years at the state. He worked for GOP research at the Legislature and at the state Department of Commerce. "My job is to stand up and be in front of the commissioner if the arrows are flying -- and if the accolades are coming to run for the background," he said.

Rochelle Olson • 612-673-1747 @rochelleolson

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