Environment top issue for Swanson
Gerlach for lower taxes, less government
An Apple Valley resident for 24 years, Victoria “Vicki” Swanson said she has always dreamed of following in her father’s footsteps and becoming a public servant.
“I want to give back to my community,” Swanson said of her decision to file to run against
state Sen. Chris Gerlach for the Dakota County commissioner seat held for 16 years by Will Branning, who is not seeking re-election.
Swanson, 52, said she shares interest in health and welfare issues as did her father, former Democratic state Rep. Jim Swanson, who served Richfield from 1969-84 and helped pass the bill that allowed development of the Cedar Avenue bridge that opened in 1980.
She called environmental issues her “biggest passion,” and said she is concerned about preserving and promoting county parks.
“I use the parks, I bike and walk and hike,” she said. “I want to make sure everything stays usable.”
She also cited concerns about jobs and the economy, noting many of her friends are under-employed.
“With Northwest Airlines, 44,000 associates were laid off,” she said. “A high percentage of those are still struggling. … It would be prudent to get some type of manufacturing, a mid-size company we could entice into the area to produce jobs for people.”
Swanson added that she would also work to ensure the environment was protected by business development.
“We need jobs, but I would probably scrutinize how they handle their waste,” Swanson said. “That’s my deal.”
She added that job losses have affected the county, and emphasized the need for the county to prioritize spending, noting there are many more vacant homes than in years past.
“That will be putting a tax burden on what we are able to spend as a county,” Swanson said. “The concern I have is if we’re losing revenue that way, how can we make it up?”
Swanson said many people encouraged her to run against Gerlach after Apple Valley Mayor Mary Hamann-Roland decided not to run, in part because they told her they were concerned he would hold up transit development.
Gerlach told Sun Thisweek he was chief author of legislation to fund Cedar Avenue Bus Rapid Transit both as a representative and a senator.
Gerlach was elected to the House in 1998 and re-elected in 2000 and 2002. In a special election, Gerlach moved to the Senate in 2004 and was re-elected in 2006 and 2010.
“What the county needs is a balanced transportation system of roads and transit,” Gerlach said. “That is what I’ve advocated for at the Legislature.”
He said the county is “well-managed,” noting Dakota County has the lowest county tax rate in the state, and advocated for limited government and lower taxes.
“It’s a nonpartisan office,” Gerlach said. “But, I think it’s no secret that I’m a Republican. I have a conservative view of what government should be.”
Gerlach said he decided to seek office to continue his public service, stating his experience will benefit the county.
“I know who’s pushing the buttons at the State Capitol, and I’m going to be able to help navigate and build on that state-county relationship in behalf of Dakota County.”
Swanson said her passion and “deep roots” in the Apple Valley-Rosemount area will allow her to best represent the district.
“I’d like to carry on my father’s legacy,” she said.
Laura Adelmann is at firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/sunthisweek.