New generation of leadership

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By Tom Devine
Chaska Herald – Letter to the Editor
New generation of leadership

Posted: Friday, October 19, 2018


As a former member of the University of Minnesota Board of Regents, I had the privilege of working with Julia Coleman on issues impacting the quality of education and life for students at the U of M.

As the student representative on the board, Julia brought new energy and a fresh perspective that was desperately needed at the university.

I was thrilled to learn recently that Julia is now running to serve our community on the Chanhassen City Council. The same passion and skill set that Julia brought to the University of Minnesota will be advantageous for Chanhassen residents if she’s elected to the city council.

It’s refreshing to hear that a candidate for office actually wants to listen to the questions, comments, and concerns of voters. Julia has committed to hosting monthly “office hours” where citizens can speak directly to her about city-related issues that are impacting them.

One such example, is Aquatic Invasive Species. As a student representative, she advocated for the creation of the University of Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Laboratory. I know she will be an ardent defender of our lakes in Chanhassen to minimize any spread of invasive species, such as zebra mussels.

As a fiscal conservative, I was pleased to discover that Julia intends to make local government as efficient as possible by taking a critical eye on city contracts and having volunteer accountants scrutinize how our dollars are spent.

Julia also understands that keeping our community safe is the foremost priority of government. She believes that the city’s existing resources should be prioritized toward supporting our local police and fire services to make sure they have the equipment and training they need to keep all of us safe.

Julia will bring the same passion, determination, and new ideas to the City Council that I saw firsthand at the University of Minnesota. That’s exactly the kind of leadership our city needs to be an even better community!

Please join me in electing a new generation of bright leadership, one who will reach out, listen and serve our growing community.

Tom Devine
Chanhassen resident
Regent Emeritus, University of Minnesota

Julia Coleman’s Responses to League of Women Voter Forum Questions

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Posted: Thursday, October 18, 2018


What is your vision for Chanhassen in the next two years?

While there are many plans and visions I have for Chanhassen in the next two years, my biggest priorities are building a stronger relationship between residents and their city government, engaging citizens in the future design of Chanhassen, providing more opportunities for public feedback, and offering more options for those wishing to get involved in the planning process.

Please state how long you have lived here in Chanhassen and what your volunteer work has been in the city?

I am going on my third year in Chanhassen, and while that may seem relatively new by Chanhassen standards, I have completely immersed myself in the community over the last few years. My favorite volunteer work in Chanhassen has by far been my work in the Lions Club, where I serve on the board of directors as their public relations chair. As a Chanhassen Lion I have been able to serve our community in multiple ways, doing everything from street cleanups to selling trees at the Christmas tree lot, and much, much more! I also serve as a co-director for a local Miss America Scholarship program and have made sure to integrate the young women I mentor into the Chanhassen community by having them volunteer at events like the Firefighter pancake breakfast fundraiser. I have also had the pleasure of serving multiple times at the Chanhassen Feed My Starving Children.

How has your experience help you understand the many special needs and opinions of Chanhassen?

By actively engaging myself in the community, I have had the pleasure of having countless conversations with people from all walks of life and all perspectives in Chanhassen. Aside from my volunteer work, my experiences directly connecting with our neighbors at the doors in Chanhassen have helped me to further understand the many unique needs and opinions of this great city. I have noticed that while everyone is different, there are common themes and concerns shared amongst residents, including a desire for a better connection to their local government, and having a larger say in the planning process.

How do you plan on making Chanhassen an affordable community to live in for both our workers that commute and for the many seniors that need to move to a smaller and more affordable house?

Being an elected representative means being responsive to all types of citizens, by heightening those connections we can work to build affordable properties for residents of all walks of life. Chanhassen is big enough to have large homes, small homes, town homes, and senior living. Chanhassen is also small enough to have a well-connected downtown that offers more opportunities and makes it easier for older residents to get from place to place. We should maintain that framework in order to make our city an affordable community for citizens of all ages.

If a vociferous group is strongly advocating for an action that you know in your heart to be bad for the community where does your duty lie?

My duty always lies in doing what is right. While I will take the time to hear everyone out and will always take their thoughts into consideration, I know I must use research and data to make the best decisions on behalf of the community. It’s understandable that emotions may run high on a given issue and those emotions are important to consider, but we also must make decisions that are based on the available facts before us.

What programs or services would you like to see implemented or changed for the youth of Chanhassen?

One thing that I have heard time and time again from parents in Chanhassen is that our recreational center needs some tender loving care. Just like you have to spend money to maintain your house, we must do the same with city assets. There is also a growing desire to make Chanhassen a more hockey-friendly city – something I can most definitely get behind and will help attract more economic activity to our city!

After the vote to approve the ALDIs and the six story apartment building, many citizens felt disenfranchised from the city’s decision making. If applicable, how did you vote, why did you vote the way you did, and what would you say to the citizens now?

While I did not vote on this issue, had I been on City Council I would have taken the time to hear more people out, and try to find other options. I understand that there was some availability for public feedback, but I have heard from many residents that they did not know about the project until it came time for the final vote. Many of our neighbors have shared with me that they felt the outcome of this critical vote was decided before the meeting and their input was ignored. With so many people finding out about this project so late, and having such a large response, I would have decided the issue clearly needed more time to be considered in the public eye before a final vote. In today’s busy world, it’s easy to not hear about everything going on, which is why I am already building an extensive Chanhassen-only contact list, so if elected I can find multiple ways of keeping as many people as possible informed on the issues.

What is your opinion on building business in Chanhassen? Would you prefer to bring in big box stores or support and grow locally owned small businesses?

I do not believe that government should inhibit a business’ ability to thrive, big or small. However, there is a large demand in Chanhassen for more unique attractions. A brewery, an upscale restaurant and more small boutiques are just a few of the many ideas I have heard from residents. In order to help small businesses start and thrive in Chanhassen, I would like to recruit local lawyers who are willing to volunteer their time to go through various city codes and zoning side-by-side with small business owners to identify areas where the city can improve its small-business climate to show that Chanhassen is open for business!

How would you improve communication with the residents of Chanhassen?

There are several ways I would like to improve communication with the residents of Chanhassen. If elected, I will host monthly open office hours where anyone can come talk to me about the issues. I will also offer a bi-weekly newsletter to keep people informed about what’s going on at City Hall, should they be interested. Most importantly, I will fight to offer more opportunities for citizen engagement and feedback. This sort of communication is critical to a transparent government and is a top priority for me.

Q&A with Chanhassen City Council candidate Julia Coleman

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By Unsie Zuege
Chanhassen Villager
Q&A with Chanhassen City Council candidate Julia Coleman

Posted: Friday, October 5, 2018


Why are you running for the council?

I am running for City Council because of my passion for serving others, my love of Chanhassen, and my admiration for those who encompass it. In my countless conversations throughout the city, I heard time and time again that the citizens here feel they need a stronger connection to their local government.

Through open office hours, being incredibly responsive, and actively listening to the concerns of those I serve, I hope to give Chanhassen residents the voice they are seeking.

If elected to council, what would be your top priorities for the city?

My top priorities include citizen engagement, public safety and responsible budgeting. Through actively engaging with my fellow citizens of Chanhassen, I will keep people informed on the issues and make sure their voice is heard, as well as create volunteer citizen commissions to make Chanhassen a better place to live, work and raise a family.

By making public safety a top priority, I will not only work to keep Chanhassen safe, but will work to make sure we are supporting those who put their lives on the line for all of us.

Finally, I will be incredibly responsible in our budgeting, taking a critical eye to spending and maximizing our use of existing resources.

Describe your leadership style.

The Thomas Jefferson’s quote “The government closest to the people serves the people best” greatly resonates with me. I plan to serve Chanhassen by communicating with Chanhassen residents, actively informing citizens of the issues, and taking the time to make sure anyone who wants a voice at City Hall has one.

City Council is elected to serve the people, and as a leader the people will be my main focus.

What are your thoughts regarding concerns that there are too many franchises and chains in Chanhassen?

I have heard this concern time and time again in my conversations at the doors in Chanhassen. While I believe that government shouldn’t inhibit a business’ ability to thrive, local officials have the capacity and responsibility to recruit businesses that fit the needs and desires of their constituency.

I would like to see Chanhassen develop additional unique attractions. An upscale restaurant, a brewery, or a fun and unique venue are just a few of the ideas I’ve heard from voters.

What is your vision for a vital downtown?

I believe that while growth is inevitable, we can still do everything in our power to keep Chanhassen, Chanhassen. I believe in restoration over demolition, taking the time to thoroughly get feedback from the citizens on proposed developments, and maintaining the small-town feel while welcoming new residents, businesses and attractions.

Have you been charged in the past year, or ever been convicted, of a misdemeanor or higher, or been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy or foreclosure?


Time for a council that responds

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By Laura Skistad
Chanhassen Villager – Letter to the Editor
Time for a council that responds

Posted: Friday, September 28, 2018


This next City Council election gives the people of Chanhassen the opportunity to change the trajectory of our city. There is a monopoly vote on the council that fails to consider the people of Chanhassen. We need a city council that will collaborate with the people of Chanhassen. We need new leadership for our city.

Under the current monopoly (Denny Laufenburger, Bethany Tjornhom, Jerry McDonald), Chanhassen residents have voiced the following concerns, insufficient parking for new building sites and businesses, traffic flow problems due to new buildings, increased taxes and fees, and excessive development of certain types of business.

Under the current monopoly, Chanhassen has become the city of fast-food chains, grocery stores and liquor stores often accompanied by poorly planned parking lots and too few parking spots. The city is losing the charm that first enticed us to move here 12 years ago.

Soon, Chanhassen will complete a six-story apartment building in the heart of downtown. The current monopoly’s vote envisions turning our downtown into a high-rise mecca with businesses below the apartments. This is the Met Council’s vision for every city in the seven-county metro.

I attended a city work session, on Oct. 23, 2017, where Laufenburger personally and warmly welcomed Jennifer Munt, District 3 Metropolitan Council member, who told us that Chanhassen has been more successful implementing the Met Council’s visions than the surrounding cities.

Laufenburger is on the Met Council Transportation Advisory Board. Consider these facts. This build was approved prior to receiving the $42,000 city plan that the council paid to have completed with only one parking spot allotted to each apartment. This build was subsidized using tax-incremental financing. This build was juxtaposed next to the SouthWest Transit garage. And the build was pushed through despite the over 800 signatures as well as the overflowing Council Chambers during the council meetings. Who is our council representing?

A leader has emerged on the council who has listened and advocated for the people of Chanhassen. This person is Elise Ryan.

Elise is interested in collaborating with citizens. As I have attended many City Council meetings, as well as, city work sessions, she has continually been the one that has asked tough questions. Elise Ryan has demonstrated her leadership skills continually throughout the community and also on this City Council. This is the reason that I support Elise Ryan for mayor.

Another voice of reason is Dan Campion. Dan also has supported getting input from the people. He is interested in helping to attract non-chain restaurants. He is interested in working with the developers and the people of Chanhassen to build a better Chanhassen that we can all enjoy.

Julia Coleman brings new perspective to the council. She is interested in ensuring that we are using our taxes wisely. She also has a passion to ensure our community prioritizes our emergency responders as we grow as a small city.

With these forward-thinking representatives for mayor and council members, Chanhassen has a bright future.

– Laura Skistad

Call for change in council

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By Mark Page
Chanhassen Villager – Letter to the Editor
Call for change in council

Posted: Friday, September 14, 2018


This November, voters have a clear choice for the leadership of Chanhassen. The choice is between two distinct camps, the status quo leadership vs. citizen inspired, forward-thinking leadership.

The status quo has not served Chanhassen well and that’s why we are in need of new leadership.

Chanhassen has been on a downhill slide since my family moved here 11 years ago. Back then, Chanhassen was a great suburb, comparable to Excelsior, Shorewood, and Minnetonka.

Over the last 10 years, we have witnessed a slow decline into mediocrity. There are many reasons for this, but the main reasons are a lack of cohesive downtown planning; an explosion of fast casual dining; and city leadership’s refusal to listen to the public.

First, the lack of planning. Chanhassen has grown completely “piecemeal” with no long-term strategic plan, especially pertaining to downtown. The city spent $42,000 of taxpayer money on a downtown development study that they never even bothered to read; that’s a pretty expensive paperweight.

Second, our town has become the “food court” of Carver County. We have every fast food restaurant imaginable, with hardly any unique establishments, so our citizens head to Excelsior, Wayzata, and Victoria for interesting dining options. In addition, some of the restaurants are impossible to patronize because of poor planning for parking and access, particularly Potbelly Sandwich Shop and Smashburger.

Finally, and this is the crux of the problem, is the unwillingness of the majority of City Council to listen. The council is controlled by three members, Mayor Denny Laufenburger and councilors Bethany Tjornhom and Jerry McDonald, and they have a stranglehold on the city with an unbreakable 3-2 monopoly. This lack of listening culminated in the contentious vote on the Aldi/six-story downtown apartment building.

The city and its current leadership took the low-hanging fruit and chose the project presented by the developer instead of working to find what the taxpayers really wanted. And then they used tax increment financing to fund it.

The citizens begged Laufenburger, Tjornhom and McDonald to reconsider their votes. Over 800 people signed a petition opposing the six-story apartment/Aldi plan; 100 citizens attended the City Council meeting; and 20 made impassioned pleas against the plan. These three did not listen to the citizens, and they voted against the public’s desire to keep Chanhassen free of a giant apartment building right in the middle of downtown. So when the big buzzword of “listening” comes up in this election, please remember who catastrophically failed to listen — Mayor Laufenburger.

Who did listen? Councilor Elise Ryan and Councilor Dan Campion, who both voted “No” to this travesty. Therefore, I am supporting Councilor Ryan for mayor, and Councilor Dan Campion and Julia Coleman for City Council.

The saving grace to this whole story is that we can still change. By supporting these three young, bright, forward-thinking people, we can get our city back into the rightful hands of the citizens, because Ryan, Campion and Coleman are interested in listening to the citizens and acting on citizen concerns.

– Mark Page

Coleman is right person for council

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By Cole D. Kelly
Chanhassen Villager – Letter to the Editor
Coleman is right person for council

Posted: Friday, July 27, 2018


I am a 24-year resident of Chanhassen. I love this city and am invested in its future.

I am supporting Julia Coleman’s candidacy to represent the taxpayers of our community on the city council.

I have come to know Julia in the last couple years and she has a passion to serve the citizens of Chanhassen in a conservative thoughtful process while being able to listen to the input of her constituents.

City government isn’t often in the headlines compared to what’s happening on the state and federal level. Yet, that doesn’t make it any less important. In fact, it makes it even more imperative that we have citizen leaders whom we can trust to make decisions on our behalf about how our city is run.

That’s why Julia Coleman is the right person to serve us on the Chanhassen City Council. Her platform is simple: prioritizing the city’s public safety services, putting a critical eye on city spending, and emphasizing on responsiveness to city residents with their concerns.

Julia will be a watchdog for us. When it comes to outside contracts and vendors, she will keep a critical eye at the return-on-investment and value to taxpayers.

Julia will be proactive, responsive, and accessible to city residents by holding regular office hours where anyone can talk to her about their concerns.

Julia has the passion and vision to serve our community on the city council. She takes to heart the famous Thomas Jefferson line that “the government closest to the people serves the people best.”

Please vote for Julia Coleman for Chanhassen City Council on Nov. 6!

– Cole D. Kelly

Julia Coleman announces bid for Chanhassen council

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By Mark Olson
Chanhassen Villager

Posted: Thursday, June 28, 2018


Chanhassen resident Julia Coleman announced this week that she will be running for Chanhassen City Council in the upcoming 2018 election.

“I love this community and am excited to do my best for the people of Chanhassen. I believe that we can build upon our success as a city by working to better prioritize our emergency responder and public safety services within our city budget, increase accessibility of residents to city government, and limit government overreach into taxpayers’ pocketbooks and in the city code,” stated Coleman, in a press release.

“Too often, government can feel unresponsive to the people it serves. As your city councilwoman, I commit to hosting monthly open office hours for all Chanhassen residents to come ask questions and share their thoughts,” she stated.

“I am thrilled to endorse Julia Coleman for Chanhassen City Council,” stated Minnesota State Rep. Cindy Pugh (R-Chanhassen), in the release. “Julia will bring new energy and a fresh perspective to city government. I have no doubt that her work will make Chanhassen an even better place to live, work, and raise a family.”

Julia Coleman, whose current legal name is Julia Schliesing, until she marries Chanhassen firefighter Jacob Coleman in the coming weeks, is a public relations manager at a nonprofit healthcare association.

Coleman also serves as a Chanhassen Lions Club member, actively volunteers for mental health organizations and mentors young women through the Miss America Organization.