On Thursday, September 24, 2020 the League of Woman Voters – Minnetonka, Eden Prairie, Hopkins (LWV MEPH) held their Eden Prairie City Council forum in the Council Chamber at the Eden Prairie City Center.
The LWV MEPH describes it format as non-partisan, unbiased and impartial as established by the League of Women Voters Minnesota. The forum followed Minnesota Governor Walz’s COVID 19 GUIDELINES.
There are three candidates running for two seats on the Eden Prairie City Council: incumbent PG Narayanan, Lisa Toomey, and Ryan Miske. Miske did not attend the forum. The two attending candidates answered questions submitted by the public. The Forum opened with each candidate’s two-minute opening statements.
Ryan Miske opening statement
Miske’s two-minute prepared statement was read by moderator Deb Brinkman. It noted his law office partnership, and his ownership and redevelopment of a building in Eden Prairie on Office Ridge Circle. Miske highlighted bringing more businesses to Eden Prairie, as well as his attainment of the Boy Scout rank of Eagle Scout.
PG Narayanan opening statement
Current City Council Member PG Narayanan’s, statement began with his journey to the United States as a non-English speaking immigrant to his stint as Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of ADC. Headquartered in Eden Prairie, ADC grew to a $4 billion company. Narayanan later founded his own company, SmiForce Inc. where he works today. Narayanan has chaired such committees as the Eden Prairie Human Rights and Diversity Commission and the Eden Prairie Community Foundation. He has also been a board member of the SouthWest Transit Commission, Twin Cities PBS (TPT), among others.
Lisa Toomey opening statement
Lisa Toomey presented a long list of civic involvement in her opening statement. Lisa presently serves as President of the Eden Prairie Crime Prevention and Criminal Apprehension Fund. She is the current treasurer of the Prop Shop, former President of the Lioness Club, former Executive Director of Meal on Wheels of Eden Prairie as well past board member or member of numerous civic organizations including Community Education Advisory Council and City of Eden Prairie Planning Commission.
In their one-minute answer to the question: What do you think is the most important challenge facing Eden Prairie and how do you propose to address it?
LRT and COVID-19: Answering Eden Prairie preparedness questions
Toomey stated that she had heard concerns from the community about how the new light-rail train (LRT) line into Eden Prairie might affect safety. She noted she had learned that the Eden Prairie Police department along with the Minnetonka, Hopkins, St. Louis Park and the Metro-transit police have an Implementation and Integration program to work together and leverage resources. Toomey felt Eden Prairie is well prepared for the introduction of LRT but stressed it would need an ongoing evaluation.
Narayanan stated that Eden Prairie has dealt with and will continue to successfully handle the COVID crisis in the coming year. He believes the Met Council has prepared for the introduction of LRT, including the hiring of 40 additional police. Eden Prairie is working hard on affordable housing as it continues to be our a challenge.
In the question about communities defunding the police both Toomey and Narayanan believe the Eden Prairie police department is well trained. Toomey suggested a part time social worker in the housing and community services department could do follow up and relieve the police need for further interaction.
Support for limiting flavored tobacco
Both Toomey and Narayana support the limiting of flavored tobacco, citing its marketing to young people as dangerous. Toomey suggested that there would be no need for additional tobacco sales.
Narayanan and Toomey both expressed a strong support of the Human Rights and Diversity Commission’s race equity plan. Toomey suggested better contact with Eden Prairie’s diverse community. She also suggested different members get involve in areas like the citizens academy.
Answers to city sustainability and finance inquiries
Narayanan answered the question about sustainability efforts in Eden Prairie by referring to the two key initiatives the council has approved, the sustainability plan and climate action plan. Toomey agreed with Narayanan’s statement, saying the city have been very proactive in dealing with sustainability. She suggested that these plans not only save the environment they save the city money.
Both candidates reported that the city was in good financial position and complimented the city staff in their efforts to maintain a healthy budget. Eden Prairie continues to have a AAA bond rating. Both Narayanan and Toomey applauded Eden Prairie city financial staff for working to keep Eden Prairie taxes low while maintaining a high standard of living in Hennepin County.
The candidate forums will be rebroadcast several times each week on city cable channels and available on-demand at edenprairie.org/CityTV leading up to Election Day.