Lauderdale council candidates are all about infrastructure

It’s three incumbents and a newcomer in Lauderdale’s 2018 city council election.

Mayor Mary Gaasch is all but guaranteed to prevail on Election Day as she’s running unopposed for her second, two-year term in the position.

On the council side, challenger Zak Knudson is squaring off against incumbent council members Roxanne Grove and Andi Moffatt in the race for two seats.

The candidates answered questions via email including why they are running, what skills and experiences they will bring to office, what they believe to be the top challenges the city faces and what issues or projects they would prioritize if elected.

Election Day is Nov. 6.


Council race

Grove, 62, has worked as a nurse with Health Partners for 25 years and said she is looking forward to retirement in 2021. She was first elected to the council in 2008 and has held the position since.

Running that first time around with no political background, Grove said she was motivated by her experience as a homeowner in the city and as a grandmother. “I wanted to bring that perspective to the council and do the very best job I can to create and maintain a safe community.”

Grove said she is running for re-election to stay involved with the community and because “I am incredibly excited about the redevelopment plans we are currently working on.”

The top challenges facing Lauderdale, per Grove, are Eustis Street and Roselawn Avenue — the city is currently working to take control of them from the county. “We all look forward to a successful agreement with Ramsey County and improving the roads that are in desperate need of reconstruction,” she said, pointing out the rebuilding could begin next year. The Lauderdale Nature Area and redevelopment are also concerns.

If re-elected, Grove said she would prioritize, among other things, preserving what residents love about “our small town,” keeping property taxes low while keeping city services responsive and continuing to “improve walk-ability, bike-ability and recreation.”


Knudson, 25, is engaged to Trace Johnson and is a business intelligence associate analyst for Coloplast Corporation. He has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Hamline University and is currently attending St. Mary’s University of Minnesota working on a graduate degree with a concentration on data analytics.

Serving on his hometown’s Economic Development Board at 17, Knudson said he understands the city’s infrastructure issues having worked on Lauderdale’s Comprehensive Plan Committee. He said he understands legislative impacts on cities from his time working in the Minnesota House, that he’s been an environmental advocate and that he cares about education and schools, having worked the past three years as a tutor at an elementary school.

Knudson said he’s running because “Lauderdale deserves a beautiful, more walkable and a safer community that focuses on preserving our character and environment that makes us so desirable,” adding he wants to be a responsive council member who listens to constituents.

When it comes to the top challenges facing the city, Knudson is clear: “Infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure,” he said. Noting potential changes to Eustis Street and Roselawn Avenue, as well as Larpenteur Avenue, he said he wanted to promote walkability and traffic movement while maintaining the city’s character.

Knudson’s top priority if elected is “infrastructure improvement while preserving as much of Lauderdale as we can.”


Moffatt, 46, is married to Tom Moffatt and was appointed to the council to fill an open position in January 2017. She is an environmental group manager/principal for WSP & Associates and holds a master’s degree in plant pathology from the University of Minnesota as well as an MBA from the Carlson School of Management at the U.

She said she would bring experience in city policy, infrastructure and environmental review to the council. “I also bring the ability to collaborate and compromise within team settings,” she added.

Moffatt said she is running because, “My husband and I have lived in Lauderdale for 19 years. We enjoy the sense of civic pride, fiscal responsibility and community. I am proud of what our community of 2,400 people can do together, and I want to continue to make Lauderdale a welcoming place.”

The top challenge facing the city is more of an opportunity, Moffatt said, pointing out the redevelopment of the former Chinese Christian Church site could become senior housing “so that aging residents in the community, who can no longer remain in their homes, will have an option for senior living within their hometown, near their friends and family.”

Moffatt said she would prioritize maintaining and improving roads and infrastructure. “I will continue to support the city’s efforts in the turn-back of Eustis Street north of Larpenteur to improve the drive-ability and walkability of this street as well as our other streets.”


Mayoral race

Gaasch, 52, is married to Matt Koncar and is a program director at Hammer Residences, Inc., a nonprofit that serves people with disabilities. She has a bachelor’s degree in literature and disability studies from Metro State University.

The skills and experience she said she brings to office include strategic planning, warm and authentic community engagement, multi-sector collaboration, strategic partnerships and integrity.

Gaasch said she is running because, “We are making tremendous strides achieving goals set by our community.” Such goals include the turn-back of Eustis Street and Roselawn Avenue from the county to the city, the redevelopment of the 1.8-acre Chinese Christian Church site and supporting the development of a coffee shop on Larpenteur Avenue.

The city faces a handful of challenges, according to Gaasch, including maintaining its aging housing stock; providing a variety of housing to meet different needs; developing its “downtown” to bring more services to the city; and ensuring that policing meets the needs of the community.

Assuming she’s re-elected, Gaasch said she would finish the work on taking back Eustis and Roselawn. “We have negotiated an economic package that will allow us to rebuild these streets to our standards and transform them into roads that meet a small town’s need for pedestrian and bike access. We can control speed and intersections so they are less likely to be a thoroughfare,” she said. “I am excited to work on our infill developments and on developing our downtown.”


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-Mike Munzenrider can be reached at or 651-748-7813. 

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