Brooklyn Park West District special election is Aug. 14

A Tuesday, Aug. 14, special election will determine who will serve the more than two years remaining in longtime West District Councilmember Jeanette Meyer’s term. Meyer died of lung cancer May 20.

Although the special election will be held simultaneously with primaries for other races, the choice West District voters make that day will be final. In November, however, they will cast ballots to determine who will fill the other West District council seat when Councilmember Dean Heng’s term expires in January 2013.

Both West District races have candidates with ties to Jeanette Meyer. Her son Joseph is running in the special election, and her husband, former Councilmember Terry Gearin, is running for Heng’s seat in November.

Joseph Meyer Gearin

Gearin mug shot

Gearin

Address: 8800 66th Ave. N., Brooklyn Park

Education: Bachelor’s degree in studies in cinema and media culture from the University of Minnesota — Twin Cities

Occupation: Post-production coordinator

Years you have lived in Brooklyn Park: 23

Have you run for any office in the past? No.

How can people contact you? 763-535-4870

What distinguishes you from or makes you more qualified than the other candidates?

My mother, the late Councilmember Jeanette Meyer, was a tireless champion for Brooklyn Park and its residents. She loved this city and working for its citizens. This past May, I lost my mom, but Brooklyn Park lost its longest-serving, most dedicated servant. I intend to carry on in the fair, frugal and caring way she modeled for us all.

If you were elected to the city council, what would you do about crime in the city?

We cannot put a cop on every corner, but we can use neighborhood policing models that get our police and neighbors to know each other to maximize cooperation and minimize crime. I’d like to expand the reach of our award-winning National Night Out and add events year round that connect community members and raise awareness of neighborhood needs among city policy makers. Strong neighbors, tight communities stop crime. Such connections would give our public safety officers the support they need to prevent crime.

What, if anything, should the city do to improve its image?

While most suburbs prefer to sidestep urban issues that spill out from the city’s core, Brooklyn Park has earned a national reputation for approaching these complex issues with creative solutions that enrich our community and raise the humanity of us all. The determination and courage to meet challenges with innovative solutions was a key aspect of the 14-year legacy of my mother as a city council member. That is an ongoing goal I intend to make a priority.

Bob Mata

Bob Mata mug shot

Mata

Address: 6288 Yukon Ave. N., Brooklyn Park

Family: Wife Valerie and three adult sons

Education: Some college

Occupation: Broker and Owner of Real Estate Partners of Brooklyn Park, Inc.

Years you have lived in Brooklyn Park: 28

Community or civic organizations involvement: Cub Scout Master, President of Little League and Babe Ruth League, Volunteer transport driver for Midwest Animal Rescue Service

Have you run for any office in the past? Ran for City Council West District in 2010

How can people contact you? rlmata@comcast.net

What distinguishes you from or makes you more qualified than the other candidates?

My 30-plus years as a real estate counselor have taught me to be a problem-solver, to listen, to treat people with honesty, to keep them informed and to act with their best interests always first and foremost.

If you were elected to the city council, what would you do about crime in the city?

I would work with the leaders of civic and religious organizations to get them more involved with what is happening within their communities. Also, I’d make sure that our police department is adequately staffed and compensated to be the most efficient possible.

What, if anything, should the city do to improve its image?

Once crime is reduced, we will be able to entice more retail and restaurant businesses into our city. This will help make Brooklyn Park a destination place rather than a pass-through to Maple Grove. Our city council also needs to become more “business friendly.” More businesses on the tax roles mean less of a tax burden on the homeowners in our city. We have become a city of wasteful and unnecessary spending. This needs to stop now.

Wynfred N. Russell

Russell mug shot

Russell

Address: 6309 84th Court N., Brooklyn Park

Family: Three children

Education: Master’s degree in public affairs from Northern Michigan University, candidate for interdisciplinary master’s degree from the University of Minnesota — Twin Cities

Occupation: Educator, Executive Director of ACER Inc., a Brooklyn Park-based nonprofit

Years you have lived in Brooklyn Park: 9

Community or civic organizations involvement: Commissioner on the Brooklyn Park Planning Commission, Board Secretary for Envision Minnesota in St. Paul and chair of the Community Collaborative Council, an advisory body that fosters parent engagement and community involvement at Osseo School District — ISD 279.

Have you run for any office in the past? In 2010 I ran for city council (Central District) and in 2011 I ran for Mayor

How can people contact you? wynfredrussell.com

What distinguishes you from or makes you more qualified than the other candidates?

Primarily what sets me apart from other candidates is that I bring a wealth of leadership skills, experience within the city and the ability to bring people together for the common good that is uniquely appropriate. My abilities to derive and maintain effective working relationships with various stakeholder groups are expressly evident by a collaborative leadership style that has enabled me to raise a civic engagement and volunteer consciousness in the city.

I bring a common-sense, problem-solving and results-driven mentality. These are ideals I believe residents would like to see more of at city hall. I am a planning commissioner, executive director of a community-based organization in Brooklyn Park and board secretary of Envision Minnesota based in St. Paul.

None of the other candidates have the length of public service or the breadth of federal, state and local experience that I do. I believe I am very familiar with the issues facing the city and the most electable candidate; I am prepared to hit the ground running.

If you were elected to the city council, what would you do about crime in the city?

The city has the lowest crime rate in 20 years. I will work to continue this trend by expanding “community policing” initiatives by working with collaborative teams composed of civil society groups, police, prosecutors, faith and community leaders, all organized to address threats to public safety and livability. Given the high correlation between crime and youth delinquency in Brooklyn Park, I will work to triangulate crime prevention activities with community-based organizations, civic organizations, parent groups and law enforcement.

The key to fighting crime has to include every Brooklyn Park citizen, and increased Police patrols in ‘problem’ neighborhoods. Therefore, citizens who break the law or violate city ordinances should be punished fully, no shortcuts and no excuses.

What, if anything, should the city do to improve its image?

The city’s image has taken a huge hit because of crime, or the perception of high crimes. Taking a page from the successful National Night Out program, the city should lead a public campaign to make each citizen become more proud of the city and ask them to work with the city to restore its reputation. Until residents begin to take pride in their city and start talking about the things that make Brooklyn Park great, we will always be playing catch-up to the naysayers. I believe the city can work with all citizens of Brooklyn Park to build up their pride in the city, which would make streets safe and neighborhoods stable.

  • Resident

    Wynfred Russell is the only candidate to have actually done anything. The others have been absent from the community, especially Baby Gearin. Speaking of Baby Gearin, why would someone vote for the kid and Daddy Gearin and create yet another dynasty. We learned the hard way when Meyer and Gearin, husband and wife, were on the council. Issues were decided at the dinner table and not the council table and the West District had no voice other than what they decided at their home, before the meetings. We don’t need any more Gearins or Meyers on our council, it’s time for new, fresh voices. In this race it’s clear, Wynfred Russell is the only qualified candidate.

  • Charles Gearin

    To “Resident”: You got one thing right, the needs of the community were a frequent topic of conversation at the dinner table long before my mother was on the council, it has always been the case. Joseph and I disagreed with Janny as often as we agreed with her, and that goes doubly for my father. My family is no monolith, we have no agenda, except for the strength of the community that we love. Joseph and I were brought up in a household where civic engagement was an actively taught value. My brother Joseph has a brilliant mind, a kind heart, and more knowledge and passion regarding the City of Brooklyn Park and the issues that it faces than his resume would lay bare. My mother did not just give a legacy of service to the city, but to her children as well, my brother and I love Brooklyn Park.

  • Abby

    I don’t see a problem with “Baby Gearin” continuing the legacy of his mother, being that she WAS elected for a term that is now incomplete. What’s the difference? Also, I have trouble respecting anyone who would speak about a candidate and his family in such a disrespectful manner. Being so soon after a death makes it even more disrespectful. What is your real problem?

  • Deborah O’Brien

    Why would you stoop so low as to refer to Joseph Gearin as “Baby Gearin” other than that is the only negative you can come up with. And let’s face it…we were all babies once…just some longer than others in your case. Stick to the issues.

  • Didaskalos

    Of the three candidates, only Wynfred Russell has a history of involvement in committee work and volunteer service for the City of Brooklyn Park. His bio (in this article) reads: “Community or civic organizations involvement: Commissioner on the Brooklyn Park Planning Commission, Board Secretary for Envision Minnesota in St. Paul and chair of the Community Collaborative Council, an advisory body that fosters parent engagement and community involvement at Osseo School District — ISD 279.”

    Mr. Gearin lists no community or civic involvement at all; Mr. Mata’s volunteer work while commendable, is not related to City or school district planning.

    Mr. Russell has demonstrated a commitment to Brooklyn Park in the past. He’s the best-qualified candidate for council member.

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