Tag Archives: Jay Rohe

A Chaska Continuity Crisis? Not so much.

At the December 17 Chaska City Council meeting, the city said its formal farewells to departing Councilors Chris Schulz, Greg Boe, and Paula Geisler, for it was the last meeting for all three.  Jay Rohe, who resigned from the Council in October, was also there to mark the occasion. There was much discussion at the meeting about how the sudden turnover of all four Council seats is unprecedented in the 50-year history of Chaska’s current council structure.

Already there is some muttering and questioning in the community about the lack of continuity and experience on the Council. But is that the right question to be asking? And is the current situation really so unprecedented?

Let’s take the second question first. The notion that Chaska has always had an experienced Council is one that is largely manufactured. In fact, we only need to wind the clock back to 2010 to find another highly inexperienced Council. After Mark Windschitl won the Mayoral Special Election in January of that year, he joined four other Councilors – Gino Businaro, Boe, Schulz, and Rick Ford – who were all in their first term.  Not to mention the fact that City Administrator Matt Podhradsky had been on the job for only a little over a year at the time. Looking back on that time, I think we can all agree that the city survived that “inexperience” on the Council.

Why is that? Well, it goes back to the first question. Continuity in anything can’t – and shouldn’t – only be judged by ensuring that specific individuals are present. No one is irreplaceable and no one is immortal. True continuity is created not by returning the same people to the same seats over and over again, but rather by the hard work of building a common set of values, a shared sense of mission, processes that have been refined with learnings over time, and a commitment to building community.

(And let’s also not forget that the folks who should get to decide how much continuity and experience are valued are the citizens of Chaska – not the Council itself. Keep that in mind should the Council decide to appoint a new Ward 2 Councilor instead of having a special election for the seat.)

Yes, we’ve lost a lot of experience from the Council in recent months. But, we’re also gaining a lot. Mike Huang and Jon Grau both served for nine years on the Planning and Parks & Recreations Commissions (including multiple years as the Chair for both), respectively. Both have been excellent public servants in those roles. McKayla Hatfield is a lifelong Chaska resident and small-business owner who demonstrated her devotion to the city and her willingness to work hard in her victorious campaign this fall.

They bring new perspectives and new areas of focus – just as the group a decade ago did. After all, Chaska has never stood still. It’s never looked backwards. Each wave of leadership has built on the foundation that has been left and moved our city forward into the future. I’m confident that Mike, Jon, and McKayla will do that, too. After all, they’re the product of the hard work put in over the years by generations of Chaska leaders to build that true continuity – one that transcends any individual.

So, don’t despair, question, or mutter. Instead, talk to your City Council members and let them know what you think! Help them move our city forward in a constructive way.


It’s Time for a Special Election, Chaska

Chaska Ward 2 City Council Member Greg Boe eked out a narrow 117-vote win in the race for State House District 47B on Election Day, meaning he will be forced to vacate his position for the final two years of his City Council term. This comes after Ward 4 Council Member Jay Rohe’s resignation in October. Both terms aren’t up for re-election until 2020.

With the pending vacancy in Ward 2 combined with the existing vacancy in Ward 4, the city is in unique circumstances.  It is not healthy for half of the city to be represented on the City Council by unelected Council Members for the next two years. It is critical that the replacement of these seats reflect the views of citizens in Wards 2 & 4.

The current composition of the Council only complicates the scenario. With three of four current members departing, it only makes it even more imperative to turn these decisions over to the citizens via special election.

These positions are elected for a reason. We have the time, resources, and capabilities to hold a special election. Per my non-lawyerly reading of election law, we could have new council members sat in time for the second council meeting in February, which realistically means at the most four council meetings with only three members. With the Planning Commission having relatively light agendas in October/November, it seems like there’s not a significant backlog of activity coming to the Council for final approval in January.  (I realize this can change quickly.) The costs of a special election are fractions of a percent of the city’s $16M general fund budget.

The city is already far along in the appointment process for Ward 4 – a process that began before the election results. I salute the Chaska residents who have stepped forward to be considered for appointment, and I thank them for their desire to serve. This effort is not about being devaluing them, but rather about putting the people of Ward 4 at the center of the conversation. Circumstances have changed, and wise leaders adjust when the situation changes.

In my time on the Chaska Park Board, one of the mantras we have heard and lived by – and one that has been echoed by the City Council — was making sure that “we did things right” even if that sometimes meant taking a little more time or even spending a little more money.  We don’t just pick the quickest, easiest or cheapest way when we can give our citizens something lasting and of value from choosing a different path. It’s our responsibility – and the City Council’s – to do the right thing for our city and there’s nothing they can do that has more value than giving the citizens their voice and their choice as to who will represent them.

A special election to fill the Ward 2 and Ward 4 vacancies is the right thing to do for the city of Chaska.

Don’t just take my word for it. 100+ Chaska residents have spoken up and signed their name to a petition just over the last two weeks to support a special election. They’ve raised their voices, I encourage you to listen to them, to join them, and tell the City Council:

Authorize a special election to fill the vacancies in Ward 2 and Ward 4.

If you agree, sign the petition at ChaskaSpecialElection.com! Join the Chaska Citizens for a Special Election Facebook group! And come to the City Council meeting on Monday, November 19 (7 p.m. at City Hall), where we will deliver the petition — and the message — in person to the Council!

Congratulations Mayor Windschitl

Let me offer my congratulations to Mark Windschitl on winning the Chaska Mayor Special Election last night.

Although I supported Jay Rohe, ultimately the great thing about Chaska is that most people share a vision of where this community needs to go, and now we all need to rally around the new Mayor and the Council to ensure that they take the actions that do move this community forward.

I encourage all Chaska residents to stay informed and involved.  The more we get involved, the better and more responsive the city will be to our concerns.

The Mayor’s Term and a not-so-good argument against Rohe

The Chaska City Council broached the subject of lengthening the term of the Mayor’s position from two years to four years in its January 4 session.

The Council should not move forward with such a move without other reforms.  Why not revisit the wisdom of the ward system at the same time?  Is Chaska really served by wards versus at-large council members?  I’m not sure that it is.  No Council candidate — in the time I’ve been in Chaska, anyway — has run a campaign based on the specific needs of their ward.  The lack of at-large council members was a key reason I couldn’t support any appointment scenario when Gary Van Eyll resigned as Mayor.  How can I support the installation of someone I never had the chance to vote on to be Mayor?

Ideally, the city should be structured with four at-large council members and a mayor all serving four-year terms.  Barring that, though, the Council would be well-advised not to lessen accountability by lengthening the Mayor’s term.

Meanwhile, user “Bella” posted an blog entry about the charitable efforts of Jay Rohe’s wife, Heidi.  “Bella” objects to Mrs. Rohe’s use of Costco as a key vendor for her charitable food program that opertes out of St. John’s Lutheran Church.  “Bella” further stipulates that the use of Costco for this program should be a reason not to vote for Jay Rohe, because Costco isn’t located in Chaska.  When we’re at the point of criticizing how people run a charitable food program (barring evidence of negligence or fraud), we’ve officially reached campaign silly season.

Jay Rohe for Mayor of Chaska

I will be voting for Jay Rohe in the Chaska Mayoral Special Election on January 19.  Let me tell you why.

This isn’t a knock on the other candidates.  They have long histories in Chaska.  They have many friends and relationships across the community.  They have contributed significantly to Chaska.  But the other candidates don’t project any real agenda they seek to pursue, both claiming they will “listen to the people” to guide what they do as Mayor.  Listening to the people is part of the job description, not a platform for action. 

This is an important time for Chaska.  We have a downtown that is struggling.  Major projects – such as the Heights of Chaska and Bio-Science Zone – will be built out over the next few years as the economy recovers.  Chaska needs a Mayor who has a clear vision of where this city needs to go and knows how to get us there.  Jay Rohe is the right candidate for the challenges we face right now.

Jay has built relationships with key decision-makers, not only within Chaska, but across the region and state in the numerous commissions he served on while on the City Council.  When Chaska faces issues that require support and resources from other governmental bodies, Jay is ready from day one to represent this city and advocate for the projects that are critical to our community.

Jay is committed to revitalizing downtown.  The city recently hired a consulting firm to help develop a Downtown Master Plan.  That’s an idea Jay had been pushing for years.  He’s the right candidate to lead that effort forward and implement the plan, because he’s already been in the trenches fighting to build a better downtown.

I didn’t agree with every decision Jay made on the City Council, and I may not agree with every decision he makes as Mayor.  But I can tell you that Jay approaches every issue with an open mind and gets to heart of every decision that comes before the Council.  He gives everyone a fair hearing.  When our neighborhood had an issue with a city project a couple of years ago, Jay was more responsive to our concerns than any other member of the Council – and Jay represents a different Ward!  With Jay Rohe as Mayor of Chaska, your voice will be heard.

The other candidates talk about listening and being responsive to the people of Chaska.  The other candidates talk about what they could do to move projects forward. 

But there’s only one candidate in this race who has a record of actually doing it.  And that candidate is Jay Rohe.  I encourage you to vote for Jay on January 19.

Two more candidates join the fray; field set at four for special election

On the last day of filing for the Chaska Mayor Special Election, two more candidates filed, setting the field at four.  The two new candidates are:

  • Robert (Bob) Snyder — Snyder works for Positive Connections and has been involved in River City Days and the Boy Scouts in the past.
  • Doug Williams — occupation unlisted, Williams lives on Audubon Road and says “I don’t need four years to freak up the town like those other Council members!”

Snyder and Williams join former Ward 4 Councilor Jay Rohe and former Chaska Cubs GM Mark Windschitl in the special election field.

The race is on! Windschitl files

Mark Windschitl filed his paperwork to enter the Special Election for Chaska Mayor on Friday afternoon.

Filing closes on Wednesday; no other additional candidates are expected at this time.  Former Ward 4 Councilor Jay Rohe is already in the race as well.

Chaska Mayor Election: Moving Past “Vision” to “Action”

When talking about the needed attributes for the next Mayor of Chaska, we hear a lot of talk about “vision”.  In my seven years here in Chaska, I’ve heard every candidate for Mayor or City Council talk about their vision of Chaska.  And they all pretty much sound alike.  Everyone is interested — more or less — in advancing the same things.

Most people generally agree on what they want this city to be, and what they want this city to pursue — a more vibrant downtown, take care of traffic issues, responsibly manage the development of the Bio-Science Zone and the Heights of Chaska, continue the strong Park & Rec system, etc.. 

I suspect that if you had given Gary Van Eyll and Jay Rohe each a magic wand back in 2008 that would allow them to make the city of Chaska look how they would want it to look in 20 years, the results wouldn’t have been radically different.  The difference between Van Eyll and Rohe was — to me, anyway — more about how to get there as opposed to what the destination was.

However, since we don’t run government by magic wand, we need to move past defining the vision and see who the right person is to make sure that we achieve the vision.

Who’s going to be the right candidate to guide the creation of the downtown master plan and then marshal the resources to execute it successfully?

Who’s going to be the right candidate to have city government operate more transparently, with more accountability,  and actually embrace and encourage citizen input?

Who’s going to be the right candidate to make financial decisions with a long-term perspective?

Who’s going to be the right candidate to advocate for Chaska on a regional and state level to make sure that projects critical to our community are addressed?

Those are the questions that need to be answered.  It’s more about action than vision in my mind.

Jay Rohe and Mark Windschitl, the ball is in your court.  Show us you are more than vision — but that you can bring the needed action to Chaska.

Waiting on Windschitl

Jay Rohe has filed his papers to enter the Chaska Mayor special election.

Word on the street is that Mayor Pro Tem Chris Schulz will not run.

So, now, it seems we’re waiting on Mark Windschitl to determine if he is in the race.  All indications are that he is leaning toward entering the race.

Various updates from around town

  • Sounds like Pauly’s will soon be under new ownership.  Word has it the restaurant (which barely survived the chopping block a couple of months back) will be bought out by the folks who own Victoria House.
  • The city’s website, now months into the vaunted “redesign”, is still lacking and it is still not being updated.  City Council agendas and minutes are not posted on a timely basis.  Not a single Park Board agenda has been posted this year, and only a few of the minutes.  What will it take for the folks at City Hall to take basic tasks like this seriously?
  • Still curious to see who will enter the Special Election.  Beyond Jay Rohe, who will be running.  Many assume Chris Schulz is interested, but is there a third candidate out there?
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