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Rochester City Council Ward 3 candidates

Four seek Ward 3 seat on Rochester City Council

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Casey McGregor, Norman Wahl, Svaar David Vinje and Vangie Castro.
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ROCHESTER — Four candidates will be on the Aug. 9 primary ballot for the Rochester City Council Ward 3 seat.

Each candidate was sent a short questionnaire seeking background information and their reason for seeking the council seat that served the city’s northwestern ward.

Here’s what they provided:

Name: Casey McGregor

Age: 41

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Occupation: Owner, Spa Casey.

Education: United South Central HIgh School; Aveda Institute; Minneapolis School of Massage and Bodywork; Midwest Permanent Cosmetics; and many other certifications.

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Casey McGregor.
Contributed

Have you held elected office? No.

Have you served on local government boards or commissions? No.

Community involvement: The COVID pandemic put a spotlight on how absent I have been in my civic duties, and I am now able to step up and serve the people of Ward 3.

What are your top three campaign issues:

  • Community safety.
  • Small business vitality.
  • Government fiscal responsibility.

What makes you the most qualified candidate for this position? Business owners work hard to make ends meet, pay our overhead and provide good products. Unlike the government, we can’t just pass a law and force customers to pay more to stay in business. We have to be smart about prioritizing our spending.

If I’m elected, the city will be far more prudent in how we spend citizens' money.

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What will be your top goal if elected? Making it easier for people to live and work in Rochester. The city needs to focus on its current work before attempting grand new things. We all benefit if Rochester is a place people want to live and start a business. Right now, we are just too expensive and too difficult.


Name: Svaar David Vinje

Age: 48

Occupation: Owner Knight's Chamber of Rochester Inc, Knight's Menswear.

Education: Associate of Arts degree, Rochester Community College.

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Svaar Vinje
Joe Ahlquist

Have you held elected office? No.

Have you served on local government boards or commissions? None.

Community involvement:

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  • Rochester Area School Foundation.
  • Rochester Downtown Alliance Board.
  • Adult and Teen Challenge volunteer.
  • Various local fundraising events for schools and other programs (donations).

What are your top three campaign issues:

  • Better fiscal accountability and efficiency by our city in balance with vision. 
  • Need for community input in city projects and validity. 
  • Creating an optimal environment for all Rochester residents to work and play.

What makes you the most qualified candidate for this position? I have a good starting point with experience with city entities and partners, the business community, and the needs of families in Rochester. I understand how to create strong relationships with knowledgeable experts to inform and advise for sound balanced decisions. We must always know our limitations in competency.

What will be your top goal if elected? To openly engage with the public on what Rochester needs to grow and improve. To incorporate my strengths into a strategic analysis and interaction on behalf of our ward. The needs of the community should to be determined and aligned along ideas or values we as officials have.


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Vangie Castro

Name: Vangie Castro

Age: 47

Occupation: Impact program assistant, United Way of Olmsted County.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in political science and public administration, California State University, East Bay.

Have you held elected office? No.

Have you served on local government boards or commissions?

  • Governor’s Task Force on the Prevention of School Bullying, 2012-2014.
  • Olmsted County Victim Services Change Team, 2017.
  • Olmsted County Human Rights Commission, 2021 - Present.

Community involvement:

  • Gay Lesbian Community Services chair, 2012- 2015.  
  • Member of Peace United Church of Christ.
  • Working Women’s Golf League president at Willow Creek Golf & Event Center.
  • Family Services Rochester, volunteer.

What are your top three campaign issues: 

  • Affordable, accessible and mixed-income housing.
  • Diversifying the current leadership.
  • City budget.

What makes you the most qualified candidate for this position? I’ve worked locally and statewide to address policies that disproportionately affect the most marginalized. My years in nonprofit work, and education in public administration have perfectly positioned me to represent the residents in Ward 3 as a council member. And I love this city and the people who live here.

What will be your top goal if elected? Rebuild trust in local leadership and strengthen relationships with city staff and the community. I think it’s important that residents of Rochester know what’s happening locally and that their leaders truly care about their well-being and safety. Hit the ground running and become the best council member I can be.


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Norman Wahl

Name: Norman W. Wahl

Age: 67

Occupation: Semi-retired Lutheran pastor, currently working in production at Great Harvest Bread company and an instructor for Driver Improvement Associates.

Education: Preston-Fountain High School; bachelor of arts degree, Augsburg College; mastera of Divinity and doctor of Divinity, Luther Seminary.

Have you held elected office?

  • Kiester School Board, Kiester, 1984-1990.

Have you served on local government boards or commissions? No.

Community involvement: 

  • Morning Pride Lions Club treasurer.
  • Samaritan Bethany Foundation Board.
  • Wright Homes of Crimson Ridge II Board, secretary.
  • Augsburg University Board of Regents, 2006-2018

What are your top three campaign issues: 

  • Continuing practical and competent leadership for a vibrant and thriving city.
  • Taking time to listen to and respond to constituent concerns.
  • Work toward civility and safety in the community that all may flourish.

What makes you the most qualified candidate for this position? For four decades, I had the opportunity to help lead small and large organizations on the local, regional and national levels. I have learned to work closely with all people and bring a spirit of kindness, while achieving measured goals. I genuinely enjoy visiting with and representing the needs of the community.

What will be your top goal if elected? Rochester has been blessed with huge resources, beginning with people who have immense gifts. Rochester needs to continue to harness its people, its finances and its energy into growth that benefits everyone. We need to embrace the economic engine that drives our city and employs tens of thousands.

Randy Petersen joined the Post Bulletin in 2014 and became the local government reporter in 2017. An Elkton native, he's worked for a variety of Midwest papers as reporter, photographer and editor since graduating from Winona State University in 1996. Readers can reach Randy at 507-285-7709 or rpetersen@postbulletin.com.
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