For mayor, Klausing; for council, Schaffer
Editorial Board, Pioneer Press
The Twin Lakes development saga has dominated Roseville politics for half a decade, and all indications are it will keep doing so. In conversation with candidates for the Roseville city elections, virtually every question returned to this central issue.
Perhaps it has persevered because Twin Lakes cuts to the heart of local politics. On one side, Mayor Craig Klausing (and a majority of the City Council) see Twin Lakes as a huge source of outside investment and new jobs in Roseville. They see tax-increment financing (TIF) to subsidize infrastructure at the development site as necessary to produce significant growth in the city tax base.
The other side, led by City Council Member Amy Ihlan, sees the new development plans not fitting with the community vision and lacking enough citizen involvement in planning. This side also sees the use of TIF as a public subsidy for big business while average residents struggle with rising property taxes. And now, with a citizen-filed lawsuit against the city over the approval of Twin Lakes in appeals court, they all might have to go back to the drawing board.
Without judging the current plan, we see the candidates' opinions on how to move through the Twin Lakes issue as vital to their potential success at City Hall.
For City Council: Karen Schaffer has experience in local government (as an attorney for Dakota County) and aims for moderation and consensus on the council. She opposes using TIF to finance new developments, and offers a variety of proposals to reduce the amount and speed of traffic in residential neighborhoods.
Dan Roe, whom we endorsed for City Council in 2004, is a capable member of the Roseville city planning board, and his involvement in Roseville civic activity is nearly unrivaled. He plans to aggressively seek and support new business and growth — using TIF when necessary — and offers both the energy and understanding necessary to do so well. He supports the Twin Lakes proposal, and has plans to further engage citizens in city government. We like him as a candidate, but wonder how much he would help to alleviate the current rift on the council.
Schaffer's penchant for moderation will help fix the Roseville city government now, while still focusing on balanced plans for the future of the city. So she's our choice.
For mayor: In the mayor race, incumbent Craig Klausing is challenged by Council Member Amy Ihlan. Both are lawyers. Both are intelligent and exceptionally qualified, and they both care about process as well as results. Their collective infatuation with detail has the potential for great governance but has often led to sword clanging instead of cooperation.
Klausing offers a vast and impressive plan for Roseville now and for the future, from maintaining the environment, keeping property taxes stable and advancing property maintenance codes. However, his assertive leadership has not yet sprung the Roseville government from its Twin Lakes rut.
Ihlan wants to focus on building community consensus throughout the planning of new developments, and she has a clear vision for the future of Roseville that bridges what's good for current residents and what will attract new families. We wanted from her, though, a clearer sense of the line between community involvement and private property rights. And although consensus is great, there are inevitably people resistant to change, even in its most positive forms.
We endorse Klausing, who offers clear priorities and vision. And we hope he works closely with Ihlan to build more cooperation among the Roseville city government and its citizen bosses.
© 2006 St. Paul Pioneer Press and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.