South St. Paul City Council: three seats up for vote

The South St. Paul city council race features three available seats and six candidates running for those seats. All three incumbents whose terms are up — Todd Podgorski, Marilyn Rothecker and Tom Seaberg — are seeking re-election. Their challengers are Luke Ayala, Krystle Christensen and Shawn Meck. Ayala did not respond to a Review questionnaire prior to the deadline.


Shawn Meck

Shawn Meck

 

 

Meck hopes to take a seat in the Nov. 4 election. He is a South St. Paul longtime resident, and graduated from South St. Paul High School.

He is on the Parks and Recreation commission for South St. Paul, works as a shipping and receiving supervisor for The Plane Rules, Inc., and is co-owner and chairman of the Board of Directors. Meck also ran for city council in 2012.

“I have the leadership that comes with supervising employees, chairing a board, and the ownership of a business,” he says. “I've made the hard choices in deciding what the difference is between need and want when it comes to budgeting.”

He said the biggest project facing the city is its economic development.

“Economic development goes hand-in-hand with keeping taxes in check,” he said. “Economic development increases our tax base; an increased tax base leads to increased tax revenue.”


Todd Podgorski

Todd Podgorski

 

 

Podgorski has served one term with the city council, and says his experience in that term, along with his 16 years as the city's deputy sheriff, has given him a wealth of knowledge and experience.

Podgorski is 41 and married to Carrie, and received his bachelor's degree in political science from Winona State University. He says public service is a noble cause for which his background is suited.

“Public safety is a primary responsibility of local government,” he says. “I have served on our school board working to improve our schools, I am the newest city council member. I am a husband and a father of three. I enjoy talking to and listening to people who want to improve our city.”

He says fixing the city's infrastructure is the biggest project the city still has to face.

“This includes our roads, parks, water, and sewer systems, and our airport,” he says. “Looking for ways to improve our infrastructure near Concord and 494 is also important, as it could improve property values and bring more jobs to the area.”


Marilyn Rothecker

Marilyn Rothecker

 

 

With eight years of council service, Rothecker is the second-most senior member of the council. Rothecker, 75, is now retired; she holds a bachelor's degree in education from St. Cloud State University. She is married to John.

She has also served with the school board, served as a probation officer, and has served on the South St. Paul Parks and Recreation and human rights commissions.

“My work is not done,” she says. “I want to continue to serve on the South St. Paul city council to finish many of the projects that I have been involved in.”

She included the park referendum, the development of Bridgepointe and Southview Hill, as well as public safety as key issues of focus.

She also enjoys working with residents and having a voice in betterment of the city.

“They are all important issues if they involve the citizens of South St. Paul,” she says. “We need to continue the work that the current council is working on.”


Tom Seaberg

Tom Seaberg

 

 

Seaberg, 51 is the senior-most member of the council, and is looking to keep his seat for yet another term. On the council since 1987, Seaberg also works as a group sales manager for Mystic Lake Casino. Married to his wife Jamie, he has a degree in radio broadcasting from Brown Institute.

He says his vast experience in the council, and the direct communication with citizens that comes with it, is what sets him apart from his election counterparts.

“I have over 27 years of experience on the city council working together with citizens, businesses and elected officials from the state, county, and South St. Paul schools,” he says. “I am very experienced with budgeting and how to work together with people to accomplish goals.”

He says his biggest project is to promote the city of South St. Paul, and make it a more business-attractive area for interested tenants from around the state and country.

“We need to aggressively promote the city of South St. Paul,” he said. “We have a unique opportunity to work together to improve the Southview-Marie Avenue business area, and the city needs to encourage and listen to ideas for that upcoming project.”

Other areas of focus: public safety and keeping police technology up to date.


Krystle Christensen

Krystle Christensen

 

 

Christensen, 34, grew up in South St. Paul. She is single and works full-time as a senior web designer at Digital River, Inc.

She earned a bachelor's degree in graphic design at the Art Institute International Minnesota.

Christensen says one of the most important things she can bring to elected office is "building on the knowledge and experience of our citizens."

"I am an average citizen with the best interests of our community and its people in mind," she says.

She says she's worked with a variety of organizations on budgets, as well as marketing and strategy — experience that will serve her well as a city council member, if she's elected.

"In this role, I hope to facilitate a better approach to communication between city officials, citizens and local businesses," she says.

The most important issues facing the city are diminishing safety and a lack of community pride, Christensen says.

"My goal is to help the city council grow into an entity that not only works for, but also with the citizens," she says.

To accomplish that, she says she would establish community events and bulletin boards to foster open discussions about the city's plans.

Additionally, she plans to become an "advocate for the citizens by vocalizing our needs, concerns and ideas to other council members."

Christensen says the evolution of South St. Paul must start with a change.

"Promises have been left unfulfilled year after year and now it is time to take action," she says. "I am running for office with the intention of being the change that South St Paul so desperately needs."
 


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