The Anoka County Board of Commissioners welcomed its first commissioner of color, as Mandy Meisner was sworn in to represent District 4. She won the seat in November after the retirement of long-time second-generation commissioner Jim Kordiak.
“In this room is a beautiful example of the diversity of District 4,” Commissioner Meisner told the crowd at her first board meeting this week. “I believe diversity is a strength. It offers a broader view of the world and creative solutions to our issues. Starting today, for the next four years, we will all have a seat at the table.”
With Meisner joining the board, women now hold the majority of seats for the first time in Anoka County history. Board members Rhonda Sivarajah and Scott Schulte were re-elected as chair and vice chair, respectively.
“I want to thank you for the confidence you have placed in me to continue to serve as your chair,” said Commissioner Sivarajah, who represents District 6. “It’s truly an honor to work with such an incredible group of leaders.” Sivarajah briefly gave up the chair position late in 2018 to allow Kordiak to serve as chair for his very last meeting in December.
At its first meeting of the new year, Blaine City Council honored outgoing councilmembers Jason King and Dave Clark. Neither sought re-election. New members Jess Robinson and Richard Paul were sworn in to take their places representing Wards 2 and 3.
“We’ve been members of this community for about 20 years,” Councilmember Robinson told the panel and crowd at the meeting. “This community is very important to us. I’m looking forward to the opportunity of working with you guys. I’m looking forward to what the future holds for Blaine.”
Paul, who was born in South Sudan, talked briefly about his family’s journey as refugees first to Kenya and, eventually, to the Twin Cities.
In Ham Lake, new council member Brian Kirkham was sworn in, while in Centerville, former councilmember Michelle Lakso won election after she took several years off to raise a family.
“We’re very excited to have (Michelle) back on council,” Centerville Mayor Jeff Paar told North Metro TV this week during his “Mayor’s Minutes” segment.
Meanwhile, in Blaine, City Manager Clark Arneson has announced his retirement. City Council has already begun looking for his replacement. Arneson was hired in 2008 after he worked for the City of Bloomington. He plans to retire from the City of Blaine this summer, presumably after the PGA Tour event.