With Ward 5 Councilmember Bruce Sanders not seeking re-election, voters in this district will choose from three new candidates in the Aug. 12 primary election. Hoping to be on the Nov. 4 ballot in Ward 5 are Travis Johanson, Brad Johnson and Valerie Weaver.
ABC Newspapers asked the candidates to answer a few questions in advance of the upcoming primary.
TRAVIS JOHANSEN: Travis Johansen is a Coon Rapids local with his wife and two little girls. At 27-years-old, Travis rises out of the millennials with a plan to bring a vibrant, yet directed approach to city affairs. A bachelor’s in marketing graduate of St. Cloud State, Travis continues to own and operate his own filmmaking and photography business full time. He has always had an eye for business potential and a passion for people, and started his entrepreneurial career with a
self-owned lawn care service around the lakes of Minnetrista.
BRAD JOHNSON: Daisy and I are raising two children in the neighborhood behind the baseball fields of Aspen Park along Foley Boulevard. I am a felony prosecutor at the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, handling serious crimes, including homicides, rapes and robberies. I also have a decade of experience at two national law firms. I graduated from William Mitchell College of Law, summa cum laude; Montana State University with highest honors; and Anoka Senior High, salutatorian.
VALERIE WEAVER: My name is Valerie Weaver, 51, and I am a lifelong resident of Coon Rapids. My family moved to Coon Rapids in 1964. I purchased my mother’s home 19 years ago and have just completed my 26th year as an English instructor, a driver education instructor and also a behind-the-wheel instructor in District 11. I have been involved in the city by attending the Coon Rapids Citizen’s Academy and the Coon Rapids Police Academy. I was a student at Sorteberg, Northdale Middle School and a graduate of Coon
Rapids High School in 1981. I was also involved in CRAA as a participant and as a coach.
2. What qualities will you bring to the council if elected?
JOHANSEN: With my education and experience as a small business owner and filmmaker, I have the incredible opportunity to connect with business people across many spectrums. I bring a creative outlook to the business of city affairs with a focus towards businesses with mutually beneficial goals of growth, expansion and improvement.
JOHNSON: A proven leader: The Anoka County Board twice appointed me to serve as a manager on the Coon Creek Watershed District Board of Managers, where I have held the positions of secretary, vice-president and acting president. I am a past president of the criminal law section of the Minnesota State Bar Association and an elected council member in the Military and Veterans Affairs Section. I also serve on the board of directors of a homeowners’ association. I understand budgets and fiscal planning and have experience making hard choices.
A skilled listener: Experience teaches that “the devil” can be in the details. As a criminal prosecutor, I know how to ask hard questions, and I will not blindly accept answers from bureaucrats that do not make sense. A good leader can improve public policy through a frank and thorough debate.
A positive perspective: Too often local citizens and area businesses tell me how unreasonable the City of Coon Rapids can be compared to neighboring cities. The mantra of “you can’t do that!” must be replaced with “how can we help you?” With a more positive perspective, we can encourage citizens to improve their homes, neighborhoods and businesses and promote economic development and prosperity.
WEAVER: If elected, the qualities I will bring to the Coon Rapids City Council are my top three strengths: I am an arranger, a learner and self-assured. An arranger wants to be productive, wants to get things done while keeping the voices of her ward in mind. A learner is just that – loves to learn, enjoys the learning process of being a city council member for the good of the people, and enjoys the journey of moving the city of Coon Rapids forward. When you are self-assured, you are able to have faith in your strengths and those around you.
As an educator in the classroom, there are multiple qualities that I use on a daily basis to be the best educator I can be every day. Skills that are used in the classroom are just as important in the city council sector: strong communication skills, daily conversations with youth and adults, the power knowing that I make a difference with each person that walks the hallways of the district from which I serve.
3. What is the main emphasis of your campaign?
JOHANSEN: Having a young family and being the only candidate of the millennial generation, I seek to ensure that our city council reflects the values of this next generation and protect our liberties, personal freedoms and opportunities. My goal is to emphasize this through improved transparency in government. Likewise, I hope to bring attention to our corner of Coon Rapids and to foster a stronger community between all neighbors. And finally, I hope to be a part of the city council in order to give you a voice in city decisions by listening to voters to bring to life your ideas for the city.
JOHNSON: The next city council must nail down a short-term and long-term vision for Coon Rapids. That new vision must include at least three components.
First, the council and staff must create a real, comprehensive economic development plan. Making ad-hoc improvements to Coon Rapids Boulevard does not automatically solve all our problems without a plan. We must be forward thinking, growing businesses and jobs.
Second, the council must seek out and engage citizens, the county, the state and our local businesses and colleges. Maintaining business friendly policies is part of a good formula, but it is not the sole answer. We need to make smart, financially responsible choices. I will help lead this effort by encouraging the development of a local leadership council with professional relationships that I have built over the years.
Third, we have some of the best police officers and firefighters in Minnesota. That is part of the reason we live in Coon Rapids. As a prosecutor, however, I see serious challenges looming in the future. We must continue to equip our first responders to face future challenges so that our neighborhoods will always be regarded as safe, affordable and desirable places to raise a family.
WEAVER: I am seeking election because I want to continue the great work that has been accomplished in this city and to continue to listen and represent my voters in Ward 5. I am here to represent Ward 5 in full capacity. My main emphasis is to continue to make this city safe for all.