December newsletter: Hennepin Commissioner Debbie Goettel

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debbie goettel

Hennepin Happening

Welcome to the District 5 December newsletter! It has been almost one year since I took office, and it's been a busy month preparing for the year ahead. Scroll down to read more about...

Final budget hearings approaching

The County Board hosted its "Truth-in-Taxation" public hearing on November 28, fielding questions and comments from the public about the 2018 budget. My colleagues and I initially considered a levy hike of about 4.95% (about $37.6 million), largely driven by cuts in state and federal funding as well as staff compensation. We have made amendments to the budget that will keep the levy below that 4.95% projected increase.

I have received helpful feedback from District 5 constituents. Many have encouraged greater investment in our County's infrastructure and human services. Others have respectfully recommended approaches that mitigate the tax burden on local businesses and families, particularly those on fixed incomes. I am working with my colleagues to ensure that we strike the most ideal balance between the many goals we are pursuing. The County Board will finalize the 2018 budget on December 12.

Celebrating the Season

Candlelight and Ice

Sunday, December 31, 5:00-9:00pm
Wood Lake Nature Center, 6710 Lake Shore Drive, Richfield

Follow hundreds of candle-lit luminaries on a walking trail through cattails and trees while keeping a lookout for deer, coyote, and owls. Roast marshmallows over a crackling fire, warm up inside with hot cocoa, make a craft, play a game, and enjoy the brisk winter event with your friends and family.

$5/person and free for members.

Appointee Spotlight: Jill Crafton

Jill Crafton

I depend on trusted appointees for their time, talent, and good judgement to better serve Hennepin County's residents. I cannot thank them enough for their service, and occasionally we will publish these highlights to recognize the phenomenal work they do.

Jill Crafton currently serves on the Riley Purgatory Bluff Creek Watershed District Board.

What are your greatest passions in life?
My greatest passion is keeping our waters healthy. Having grown up in the lower peninsula of Michigan where a spring fed creek flowed next to our house, I enjoyed hours along and in the creek in my youth as well as spending summers at the beach on Lake Michigan.  By the time I was in high school, the creek bottom was black with ooze in the summers and sea lamprey were sucking the blood from perch when we went fishing. When I moved to Minnesota, I joined the Bush Lake Chapter of the Izaak Walton League and began learning about the importance of environmental policy, the impacts of our daily life choices on water quality, and contributions we can make as individuals to improve water quality. At every meeting, we recited a pledge: “to strive for the purity of water, the clarity of the air and the wise stewardship of the land and its resources.”   I was hooked and have been working at the local, state and national levels ever since to protect our waters of the Great Lakes Basin down to Bush Lake in my community.

What is your service/professional background?
I graduated with an MBA degree (Accounting Concentration) from the Carlson School of Management at the U of MN.  I worked at the Robins, Kaplan, Miller and Ciresi LLP law firm for over 20 years in the Accounting Department on department and office budgets, financial statements and leases.  While working there, I had the leeway to engage on environmental issues such as zebra/quagga mussels entering the Great Lakes in ballast water, renewable energy standards for wind and solar, mercury reduction in MN lakes, waste and recycling advocacy, and water quality policy and practices.

What kind of impact does your work have on Hennepin County?
As a manager on the Riley Purgatory Bluff Creek Watershed District Board, my primary responsibility is protecting and improving the local waters. The District partners with local communities and stakeholders to identify top priorities and then plan, implement, and manage efforts which will protect and improve our local waters.  Educating and engaging residents is a crucial component of this effort in order to benefit the quality and quantity of our waters as well as downstream watersheds and communities. As a direct result of our work, two lakes have been delisted from the MN Pollution Control Agency’s list of impaired waters. We continue to fight invasive species, find ways to reduce salt runoff into our lakes and streams, and we plan for climate change impacts.

What drew you to Hennepin County? What kept you here?
I have lived in Bloomington since 1983. We were attracted by good schools and the abundance of parks and preserves including the Wildlife Refuge in Bloomington on the River. Hennepin County exercises the best of our Midwest values – good schools, healthy lakes, parks and trails and opportunities for all our citizens to improve their lives. Best of all are the opportunities to make a difference in our communities. There are so many Minnesotans who care deeply about protecting our lakes, forests and wildlife. When my husband had to take an early retirement, he wanted to move back to Michigan. As we talked through the benefits of living here, I realized that this is truly home for me.

What’s your favorite thing to do in Hennepin County?
My favorite thing to do is work on restoration projects such as the Wetland Restoration at the Bush Lake Chapter or nurture my pollinator garden that benefits bees and birds. Equally, walks in the local preserve provide unique outdoor experiences that melt away the concerns of the day; the numerous parks make this county a special place to live.

Summit for Civil Rights

Summit for Civil Rights

Commissioner Goettel joined Vice President Walter Mondale, Congressman Ellison, and a host of other professors, elected officials, students, and civil rights leaders for the Summit for Civil Rights held at the University of Minnesota Law School on November 9 and 10 . The Summit aimed to take the first steps of transforming the historic coalition for civil rights into a new, modern political alliance. Debbie moderated a conversation about the actions and methods needed for a renewed civil rights movement.

Partners in Policymaking

Partners in Policymaking

On November 18, Commissioner Goettel joined Partners in Policymaking for a candid discussion about the county's role in local issues. They covered a number of topics related to the broader theme of serving individuals with disabilities and parents raising children with developmental disabilities. Six commissioners were involved with the training. Since the Partners program was created in Minnesota in 1987, more than 27,000 self advocates and parents of children with developmental disabilities have graduated nationally and internationally. Applications are accepted in June for the program each year.  There is no cost for the participants for the course.

Hennepin County Library events

Hennepin County Library

Author Talk: Patrice Johnson

Monday, December 4, 7 to 8:30 p.m.

Eden Prairie Library, 565 Prairie Center Drive

Patrice Johnson, author of "Jul: Swedish American Holiday Traditions," will explore how Christmas traditions – particularly those involving food – often honor ancestors.

Learn more about this author presentation.


Seniors bond at book clubs

Hennepin County Library is helping to increase social interaction among older adults by helping them develop and maintain social book clubs. Visit a book club in Eden Prairie and learn more about clubs at senior residences.

Read more about the library’s outreach with older adults in our community.


Be a smart consumer: The library can help

Consumers’ Checkbook is a great resource for reviews of local businesses and service providers. Originally only available in libraries, now you can access Consumers’ Checkbook from your computer or mobile device. Just enter your library card number, whether accessing Consumers' Checkbook in the library or elsewhere, and set up an account upon entering the first time. With an account, you will be able to write your own reviews, greatly adding value to this local resource.

Learn about other consumer resources available with your library card.

Road construction

66th Street in Richfield and Bloomington's Normandale Boulevard are in the midst of major construction projects. Skip the traffic jams and sign up for updates on the projects impacting your commute.

You can also visit the Hennepin County website for updates on road maintenance projects and all other road construction.

Constituent services

Housing crises, energy assistance, child protection, emergency situations; we are here to advocate for you when it comes to navigating local and county services, and we want to help. Please call our office at 612-348-7885 with any questions or for assistance.


Commissioner Debbie Goettel
Hennepin County District 5
Bloomington | Eden Prairie | Richfield
612-348-7885 |

Casey Krolczyk
Principle Aide
612-596-7078 |

Michael Ohama
Policy Director
612-348-7885 |

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