Gov. Mark Dayton intends to appoint two veteran DFLers and a Shakopee medical device consultant to the Metropolitan Council as the existing board's four-year term expires.
Cara Letofsky, Gail Dorfman and Deb Barber were among the new names in a list of appointees Dayton sent to the Legislature. The changes follow the departure of council chair Susan Haigh earlier this year, replaced by Adam Duininck.
Duininck said he hopes the council becomes more engaged with local goverments. The council has taken criticism recently for being out of touch with local representatives, prompting a legislative proposal to have local sign-off on appointees.
During the nominating process, Duininck said, "The thing that we tried to drive home…is those connections to the local elected officials and getting out to see communities, city councils, county boards and helping to improve those relationships.”
The new appointments mean Dayton will jettison two current Met Council members, Gary Van Eyll of Chaska and James Brimeyer of St. Louis Park. Duininck said they bouth sought reappointments, but there were stronger candidates in their respective districts. Neither responded to a request for comment.
Letofsky, who will oversee Duininck's former district in Minneapolis, is a longtime Minneapolis DFL activist. She is a former aide to then-Mayor R.T. Rybak, was political director for Mark Andrew's mayoral run in 2013, and ran Linda Higgin's successful campaign for Hennepin County commissioner. She is married to Rep. Jim Davnie, DFL-Minneapolis.
Dorfman recently left the Hennepin County board after a 14-year tenure there. The St. Louis Park resident -- and former mayor -- is now executive director of St. Stephens Human Services, a major provider of aid to the homeless.
Dorfman said the governor called last week to ask her to join the council "due to my considerable experience in local government."
“I’ve always been a strong proponent of having a regional planning agency that works really closely with local governments to look at how we do a better job at coordinating transit and affordable housing investments," Dorfman said.
Barber is a senior partner at Canopy Medical, LLC, a medical device consulting firm. She ran unsuccessfuly against Mike Beard for a position on the Scott County board in 2014. She lives in Shakopee.
Precisely how the new appointments will impact the politics of the board remains unclear.
Dayton's letter (below) notes that he has not yet formally filed his notice of intent to appoint the members with the Secretary of State. State law requires him to consult with the Legislature before doing so.
Top right: Gail Dorfman