Election Day may not be until Tuesday, Nov. 3, but with early voting starting in Minnesota on Sept. 18, voters will be able to cast ballots for more than six weeks.
Locally, there are two seats up for grabs on the Shakopee City Council. Incumbent City Councilors Matt Lehman and Jay Whiting are running for re-election with four challenger candidates.
Councilors are elected to the five-person City Council for four-year terms.
To learn more about your options for casting a ballot in this year’s general election, visit the Minnesota Secretary of State website.
Jump to a specific candidate’s section:
- Jim DuLaney Jr.
- Nurul ‘Arif’ Khan
- Matt Lehman (incumbent)
- Mike Luce
- Tyler Pautsch
- Jay Whiting (incumbent)
James ‘Jim’ DuLaney Jr.
Jim DuLaney Jr. has lived with his wife and their three kids in Shakopee for more than 17 years.
DuLaney has a Doctorate Degree in electrical engineering. He served in the military for 10 years, worked as an engineering consultant for a year, and has worked for the last 20 years as an engineer in the private sector.
Visit www.dulaneyforcitycouncil.com to learn more about DuLaney and his views.
|Questions||James ‘Jim’ DuLaney Jr.’s Answers|
|What is your political and/or community service background?||Volunteer as a State Science Fair judge, participant in career days and STEM programs, Scott County GOP 55A Precinct 3 captain, volunteer on the media team at the Father’s House Church in Burnsville.|
|Why did you choose to run for City Council?||I entered the race for City Council after repeatedly being disappointed in their decisions on our taxes, debt, and how the property in our own neighborhoods should be used. Our City Council should work for the people.|
|Have you attended or watched recordings of City Council meetings in the last 12 months?||Yes, four (as of Sept. 10)|
|How do you feel about the current direction of the city?||City needs to balance growth and development with quality of life. City needs to get spending under control to reduce our debt and taxes.|
|What is the most pressing issue facing Shakopee in the next decade?||Aggressive growth leading to higher debt and taxes.|
|What is your stance on abolishing the Shakopee Public Utilities Commission and transferring control of the utility to the City Council?||First. The nitrate fear is not part of my decision. The Shakopee nitrate levels measured at a high 8.3 mg/L in 2017. Per the MN Department of Health, “Drinking water with levels of nitrate at or below 10 mg/L is considered safe for everyone.” Also, it is doubtful that moving the SPUC under city control is going to directly impact the nitrate levels. Control of the nitrate levels is strictly an engineering problem. |
Second. The reported Minnesota state-mandated salary cap being exceeded is not part of my decision. If there was wrongdoing, that is for our Shakopee law enforcement to determine and resolve. A November vote has no bearing on the outcome of that investigation.
Lastly. Will moving the SPUC under city control significantly reduce my monthly utility bill? If the answer is no, then this move is baseless and an attempt to grow our city government. In addition, the move is counter intuitive to why the SPUC was established in the first place, to keep politics out.
If the SPUC move is being undertaken to provide access to funds that are not presently accessible or provide a means for the city to regulate rates to provide funds for pet projects; it is not for the people. The November vote is occurring as a result of a 4-1 City Council vote. In my observations, our City Council votes as a 4-1 block on money related issues that at some point may directly impact us in our personal finances in the form of higher taxes or more city debt. My vote is no to dissolving SPUC.
|What are some other issues you hope to focus on as a city council member?||Listening to the community and seeing you as my Shakopee neighbor and not just a face in the crowd at a City Council meeting. Our neighborhood does not stop 500 feet from our front door as the existing city notification guidelines suggest. As your next City Council member, I will work tirelessly to be a good steward of Shakopee finances. My pledge is to always be slow to speak and quick to listen to your concerns.|
Nurul ‘Arif’ Khan
Nurul ‘Arif’ Khan has lived in Shakopee for 27 years, since he moved here as an exchange student. He has three children ranging in age from elementary to high school.
Khan has a bachelor’s degree in International Relations and a master’s degree in Political Science, along with an international diploma in Humanitarian Assistance from Dublin, Ireland. Khan works with before and after school programs in the Prior Lake-Savage School District and as a lead at Playworks.
To learn more about Khan and his views, visit his campaign Facebook page.
|Questions||Nurul ‘Arif’ Khan’s Answers|
|What is your political and/or community service background?||I love to help others however I can, you can tell me it’s in my blood. I have been volunteering with Scott county since 2015, I also voluntered with homeless people in our community, Let’s Go Fishing is my favorite one. I am on the Scott County Historical Society Board of Directors, and I am also a volunteer with Esperanza, Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, YMCA and of course Shakopee Soccer Association. I also love to donate blood often to Red Cross. I believe in goodness and work hard for all.|
|Why did you choose to run for City Council?||My host family (Grandma Lucille Odenwald always told me to make a difference: “you dont have to go to other part of the world or work for UN in the horn of Africa, my little guy can make a difference in Shakopee”). That is the reason I am running!|
|Have you attended or watched recordings of City Council meetings in the last 12 months?||Not that many but now I am watching and keeping track.|
|How do you feel about the current direction of the city?||Overall, I have to say Shakopee is one of the growing and diverse cities in Minnesota. My salute to our honorable Mayor Bill Mars, city council member Angelica Contreras and Judy Brennan, our City administrator Mr. Bill Reynolds and Park and Recreation Director Mr. Jay Tobin. We are so fortunate to have these people in Shakopee and for the development of Shakopee. As you know its hard to make everyone happy but if we are humble and respect each other’s opinion we will definitely achieve our goal to serve others as much as we can.|
|What is the most pressing issue facing Shakopee in the next decade?||I am all about our young generation. It won’t be easy to support college tution for a parent like me. So we have to find vocational training school in Shakopee, then young generation can find better paid job with technical course with less tuition fee. Such as welder, landscaping, bartender, plumbing, etc. Also, more facilities in the area of park and recreation. I am all about healthy lifestyle. Motivate young generation to go outside instead of playing PS4 or Xbox whole day long. We have to bring our family values and go outside. I worry the way life is going we don’t have even time to sit together to have our family dinner. For economical purpose we are lucky to have Amazon, Emerson, Shutterfly, Canterbury Park, Valleyfair and even Mystic Lake and all other small business in our Shakopee community. we have to look after them. Also as Shakopee residents we have to get extra privileges for our young generation, then they can find jobs in all these famous companies or organizations we are surrounded by.|
|What is your stance on abolishing the Shakopee Public Utilities Commission and transferring control of the utility to the City Council?||I think it’s a great idea. I am sorry to see corruption in the Shakopee Public Utilities. Specifically, after doing a little research, the auditor’s office found the commission was misinterpreting how to calculate an employee’s salary to avoid the cap and the big boss was earning more than the cap allows. It’s a shame! It’s a state law violation, and Shakopee drinking water is currently not filtered and also the city doesn’t have a water treatment plan. So definitely we do need vote on this issue.|
|What are some other issues you hope to focus on as a city council member?||As a city council member I want to bring more diversity and four core values: Caring, Respect, Responsibily and Honesty is the best policy. Be genuine!|
Matt Lehman and his wife, Rena Lehman, have been married 31 years and were both born in Shakopee, as were their parents, two sons, and grandkids. Lehman comes from a family of five, with two brothers and two sisters, including a non-identical twin.
Lehman graduated from Hennepin Technical College and became an automotive technician. He has been in the automotive industry for over 35 years and has continued his education through various certifications and training classes. Lehman has owned an auto repair shop in Shakopee for 16 years.
|Questions||Matt Lehman’s Answers|
|What is your political and/or community service background?||Coached Shakopee Little League baseball, active in Shakopee wrestling program. 1992 received the governor’s commendation for quality. Pioneered Shakopee’s neighborhood watch program and helped create our community policing concepts. Served on the Violence Prevention Task Force, Police Master Planning Task Force 2008, attended police academies. Pandemic certificate from federal/state health 2007. Multiple emergency management certificates. Shakopee community emergency response team (cert) trained member. 169 Corridor Coalition, SCALE (Scott County Association for Leadership and Efficiency). Shakopee Public Utilities liaison. Work with multiple local charities and nonprofit organizations. CAP Agency, disabled vets, Samaritan’s Purse, Scott and Dakota County, FISH, and many other experiences, too numerous to list.|
|Why did you choose to run for City Council?||These are unprecedented times. We are still in a current state of emergency at the federal, state, and city levels. The Federal Covid debt spending is $7 trillion, the State debt is $6 billion and climbing. Businesses and households are struggling even with unprecedented government assistance. Divisions and uncertainties are plentiful even here in Shakopee. I am seeking re-election to apply my years of experience and leadership in prioritizing services and spending in preparation for the economic impacts of Covid that will trickle down from the federal and state to our households and businesses. I believe the people we serve must be our top priority. I have a very open and public record of seeking compromise, studying and discussing issues from all perspectives and always being respectful of the individual while at times disagreeing with the policy. My interest is truly trying to find what’s best for our community at large. I am seeking re-election because I believe my experience would be beneficial for both the taxpayers and city as we move forward through this unique time.|
|Have you attended or watched recordings of City Council meetings in the last 12 months?||As a current member of the city council, I have participated directly in the past meeting.|
|How do you feel about the current direction of the city?||50/50. The City is doing many things very well. Let me focus on where I believe the city must do better. The use of tax incentives like TIF (Tax Increment Financing) or Abatement take general levy tax dollars away from general services. This places a tax burden on existing taxpayers. The extreme densities and often subsidized apartment population centers will drive infrastructure and services needs at a time when state and federal funding is very unlikely because of covid spending. |
I support natural organic growth. Shakopee has always been a leader in natural growth. We do not need to subsidize new growth nor do we need to force growth at breakneck speed at the expense of our current residents who are supposed to be our top priority. Government could and should allow the free markets to address lifecycle housing needs by simply changing regulations that prevent it. Tax incentives should only be considered for jobs with wages high enough over the duration of the incentive that the employees are not eligible for other taxpayer funded subsidies. Subsidizing housing makes existing housing less affordable, again, the free markets could and would build affordable housing options if government regulations would allow it. We must keep our existing affordable housing stock affordable.
|What is the most pressing issue facing Shakopee in the next decade?||The pressing issues I see over the next 10 years are self-inflicted and often taxpayer subsidized like the hyper extreme density growth, infrastructure, and service needs as a result of that subsidized growth. |
As I stated before, the timing could not be worse. The economic impacts of the Covid pandemic at all levels of government and on the GDP of the nation will make it more difficult to receive outside funding for “nice” to have projects. The must have basic services will need to expand to serve the new growth even while much of the new growth does not contribute to the general funding of expanded basic services.
We will also be tasked at unifying social divisions and creating an atmosphere of certainty at least locally. We do this by respecting, listening, and incorporating compromise in projects, spending, and each other, always putting the interest of those we serve first. The changing retail environment to online will put pressure on finding unique solutions to our local businesses’ future success. Roadway capacity on our major roads will continue to be challenging as multiple agency state, federal, and county funding is required. Our growth and entertainment venues draw large outside populations into our community, with that comes outside crime, our policing must continue to be well educated, equipped, professional, and effective. As technology changes, all city departments will need to adapt. Training and efficiencies focusing on serving you, the taxpaying customer.
|What is your stance on abolishing the Shakopee Public Utilities Commission and transferring control of the utility to the City Council?||Opposed. I prefer the utility stays independent. I would like to see the utility removed from the city where commissioners are not appointed by city council but rather elected directly by the rate payers of the utility. The city has made it clear early on that they want the utility to lower costs to new development. This is the policy difference; the utility policy has new development paying for itself. |
For the utility to lower costs to new development, existing rate payers would need to subsidize it. The city collects almost 24% of the utility water sales, yet the city says water fees are too high. Maybe the city takes too much in water sales? The city collects 3% from natural gas as a tax, 3% (rounded) in electric, and 23.77% in water. The water is safe and tested regularly, meeting all health-related standards.
Google “Brooklyn Center water issues” to learn firsthand about various water treatment outcomes. The misinterpretation of laws is very common. State statute 412.391 subd. 2 states the city needs a petition from voters to start the process of abolishing a utility. City attorney stated such in public meetings, apparently this state law is being interpetated in multiple ways also? Someone from the city tried early on to change the state laws to allow a simple majority of council to take over the utility without a petition or ballot question. I do not recall a council or public discussion on this. See my website for details and documentation.
|What are some other issues you hope to focus on as a city council member?||I will focus on modifying the business subsidy policy so tax incentives for jobs will only be considered when the wages are high enough that the employees are not eligible for additional taxpayer subsidies. I would also seek that school and county tax dollars are not included without the consent of those elected bodies. |
Stop tax incentives, TIF and Abatement, for housing, it is making current affordable housing unaffordable. The state can manage its workforce housing program at its expense. Lower the extreme densities to manageable density where our infrastructure and services are not overwhelmed and subsidized with funding by existing taxpayers.
Better land use classifications so we do not have non- compatible uses proposed next to existing uses. The apartment by the KC Hall is an example.
Stop the Met Council from dictating how our community develops lifecycle housing, help the free markets do this. Free markets would build what people want if government regulations would allow them and these affordable houses would pay taxes.
I will continue to represent the interests of the taxpayers here today. Subsidizing projects for people that are not even here yet at the expense of those I am currently serving is ridiculous.
I will continue to put our primary services and infrastructure needs above all other “nice” to have special interest projects, recognizing that our taxpayer’s finances are not infinite. The more our households/businesses keep of their earned money, the stronger they are.
Mike Luce was born and raised in Shakopee, living here for more than 64 years. He has two adult children who also live in Shakopee, along with six grandchildren, two of whom graduated from high school in the spring.
Luce completed high school and went on to obtain various maintenance-related certifications. He is self-employed and does general home and apartment repairs.
To learn more about Luce and his views, visit his campaign Facebook page.
|Questions||Mike Luce’s Answers|
|What is your political and/or community service background?||Former City Council member; former liaison to the Shakopee Public Utility Commission acting as a watch dog for utility rate payers in Shakopee; former President of the Shakopee Economic Development Authority helping small businesses grow in Shakopee; former liaison to Minnesota Valley Transit Authority devising cost effective solutions to transit issues facing people in Shakopee, including limited mobility riders. |
I spearheaded major fundraising for an inclusive playground for people with mobility issues. I assisted with every aspect of the demolition to construction of the playground including assisting the group that installed the poured in place rubber surface. I donated my earnings from the labor work (paid for by the rubber surface company) back to the City of Shakopee, along with over $2,000 of my own money.
In 2019 I put together a group that funded and delivered 130 turkeys to the local CAP Agency for Thanksgiving. Once the pandemic hit in March, I put together another group that supplied 300 boxes of cereal to CAP every week through the start of the school year, totaling 5,400 boxes.
I am currently working on establishing an endowment to financially assist Shakopee technologies class, which partners special needs students with technologies students to develop new equipment to assist the special needs students in their daily lives. I donated the initial $500 and fundraised an additional $1,000 for a pilot program to provide better financial assistance beyond what the school district offered. Plan is to assist those who want to be engineers, along with providing new equipment for the special needs students, which might provide greater benefit to a larger number of special needs than those who are Shakopee students. Currently looking for a 501(c)3 organization to handle all donations.
I have a track record of giving my time and my treasures to help out where needed. I have learned first hand the struggles some in Shakopee are having, through my involvement in food distributions at Hosanna Church.
|Why did you choose to run for City Council?||I am uncomfortable with the how decisions are being made in the city. I sense we have an inside group that says yes to everything the staff puts in front of them. Council has not been fiscally responsible to the citizens of Shakopee. At a time when incoming revenue is flat or dropping, council provided the city administrator with two raises in one year. A 3 percent raise with the rest of city staff and a 7 percent raise on top of that.** (**Editor’s Note: The city administrator received a 7% salary increase in April 2019 and a 3% cost of living adjustment in January 2020). |
In my humble opinion the city administrator is running the council, not the other way around. I know I am not alone in observing this.
|Have you attended or watched recordings of City Council meetings in the last 12 months?||Currently, I follow the council minutes in the newspaper. My history as a council member has given me experience and insights others do not have.|
|How do you feel about the current direction of the city?||A better question is: What should have input in what direction the city develops?” |
Growth just for the sake of growth is irresponsible. Council states they have a plan. Well, all of that plan should be public. What good is a plan if it is not stuck to. We saw that with the sale of the KC Hall. All of a sudden everything was allowed to change. The current council has changed the city planning guide, restricting certain development in certain areas only to open up plans that allow council to allow anything anywhere. Government decisions are slow and deliberate. That is for a reason. The reason is transparency.
The Memorial Park issue lacked input from citizens along with Vet organizations. For those uninformed, Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community claims the property the park is located on is spiritual to them and they want it back. The transfer of this property should be with the local Veterans organizations as it was originally dedicated to be Veterans Memorial Park in perpetuity per city charter. Staff and council may be using a different dictionary than I use. Perpetuity means from this day forward for all time.
|What is the most pressing issue facing Shakopee in the next decade?||1. Collecting revenue (property taxes) due to loss of businesses and eviction moratoriums. We must get out ahead of this, and get those directly involved to the table.|
2. I believe that our school system will be our major concern in the next 10 years. Current fiscal issues they are facing are due to a failure to ask tough questions and a lack of public transparency. The school board mothballed a current building due to trending down in enrollment** within a year of expanding the senior high school, which begs many questions. (**Editor’s Note: Pearson Sixth Grade Center was closed for two years to save on building costs. It opened this fall as Pearson Early Learning Center, the school district’s early childhood center). What role can city facilities play in the new normal of distance learning? Nobody knows what is coming, but plenty of input brings out all possibilities to consider. My experience with the Community Development Agency has taught me adult business people are life-long learners. What can the city and the school district do together to make this easier?
3. We need to rid the council of the notion that if you ask too many questions you are quickly labeled a trouble maker. If you demand answers you can expect retribution.
|Bad idea. The city council appoints members of the utilities commission already. The council has been stacking the commission. Get more qualified people on the commissions. The commission is not to be a tool of the city council, but an independent entity, with expertise and latitude the city council does not have. Recently the council passed over a candidate with a doctorate in economics. Previously the council removed a commission member who was an electrical engineer and replaced him with a previous city council member who bankrupted a business. My opinion is that it is a simple money grab by the city. There has been no actual case made for dissolving SPUC, just accusations.|
|What are some other issues you hope to focus on as a city council member?||Nobody enjoys telling someone something they do not want to hear, myself included. However, I will always give the public the truth and nothing but the truth — even if I think it will make some upset. There are ideas out there, but there are also facts that must be part of any solutions. Shakopee can be entering a golden age to become the number one place to have your business. |
Maintaining proper police protection for our citizens by hiring the very best officers we are able to hire. Fiscal responsibility for the tax paying citizens of Shakopee. After researching tax increment financing and bonding I learned there are some great options available, that maximize the return the public gets from its reserve accounts. I have been trying to work with the city on this, but find it is much more effective if I am on the council. These ideas save tax payers real dollars.
Balancing enticements that bring in new commerce, with helping our existing business base, is complicated. The solutions are here, we just need to keep asking questions, and publicly invite all ideas to the table. The city received a large number of sewer access credits from Met Council after Rahr built a treatment plant. I will push for a revolving credit line for new businesses, to help with the business sewer access credits for five years and have the business repay the city over five years. This reduces one of the barriers a small startup business owner has to get up and going.
Tyler Pautsch and his wife, Maren Pautsch, have lived in Shakopee for eight years. Together, they have two daughters, ages 2 years and 4 months. They also have four chickens, a quarter horse, a pony, a dog and a cat.
Pautsch has a degree in business management and is the business development manager at Open Systems Adaptable Solutions, headquartered in Shakopee.
To learn more about Pautsch and his views, visit his campaign Facebook page.
|Questions||Tyler Pautsch’s Answers|
|What is your political and/or community service background?||I work with the Park and Recreation Dept. as the Shakopee Co-Rec Softball League President. At my past web development company in Saint Paul, I was a member of the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce.|
|Why did you choose to run for City Council?||There is so much unrest going on in our state/country today, and instead of sitting on the sideline judging how people and groups are managing their support organizations from a keyboard, I decided I needed to get involved. No better way than through your local city — this is where the real change happens. I want to support Shakopee and its citizens to ensure we keep heading in the right direction.|
|Have you attended or watched recordings of City Council meetings in the last 12 months?||I have not attended one but have watched the majority since covid started in March.|
|How do you feel about the current direction of the city?||I feel like we are doing very well as a city to ensure public safety, economic growth/small business support/employment opportunities, parks and rec revitalization and expansion, transparency on taxes and specific legal matters — I am very aligned with the 2040 comprehensive plan per the Envision Shakopee website and am excited to see how we can continue to grow!|
|What is the most pressing issue facing Shakopee in the next decade?||Needing more land for economic development. Public Utilities being reabsorbed into the city and the future plan of utility management. Business recovery from the covid-19 pandemic. Slow rise of taxes, albeit we are well below the surrounding comparable city averages.|
|I think if the SPUC remains, it needs some major cleaning up and administrative overhauling. Salary law violations are not a good thing to associate with your public utilities outlet. I think with new employment, new commission members, and a new service level agreement to the city and its residents, we can correct these issues.|
|What are some other issues you hope to focus on as a city council member?||It seems that today the divide between our citizens is at its peak — here and everywhere. Social unrest, presidential nominees/two party politics. We need to work on civility, communication, togetherness and cultural/diversity education. We all occupy this great town together. We are family. We need to support one another, and we need to work together so we can keep Shakopee a great city for all residents. This council and these seats are meant to be nonpartisan, and I am seeing nothing but politics spilling out from all pores. We need accountability, fresh perspective, and council members who care for all! I can provide that perspective.|
Jay Whiting has lived in Shakopee for 28 years. He is married and has two grown children who were raised in Shakopee, two grandchildren, and two “grand-dogs.”
Whiting completed high school and “various courses of study.” He is a compliance and safety specialist for AWT Labels & Packaging.
To learn more about Whiting and his views, visit his campaign Facebook page.
|Questions||Jay Whiting’s Answers|
|What is your political and/or community service background?||– Current City Council member since 2012 |
– Member of the Minnesota Valley Transit Authority
– Board Chair of the Shakopee Economic Development Authority
– Former chair of: Shakopee Heritage Society, Shakopee Cable Access Corporation, Scott County Historical Society, Shakopee 150th Celebration, Scott County Association for Leadership & Efficiency (SCALE)
– Board member: Shakopee Derby Days, Shakopee International Festival, Scale Regional Training Facility
– Member of: Shakopee Lions Club, Scott County Agriculture Society
|Why did you choose to run for City Council?||I first ran for council nine years ago because I thought we could do better. Shakopee was on the edge of serious growth potential, and I felt the Council was in a race for the bottom by not investing in the strategies and infrastructure that would open-up opportunities.|
|Have you attended or watched recordings of City Council meetings in the last 12 months?||I have never missed a City Council meeting in 9 years. Previously I watched and attended meetings from time-to-time when something of interest piqued my interest.|
|How do you feel about the current direction of the city?||I think the current direction is good. However, there is always opportunities to improve.|
|What is the most pressing issue facing Shakopee in the next decade?||The most pressing issue facing Shakopee will be the financial backlash and loss of revenues due to the COVID-19 pandemic.|
|I believe it is time to abolish SPUC. Over the years I have watched the SPUC take an opposite direction of the City Council. This alone is not reason to make changes. However, as I look at what we know of their finances and enterprise funds, I am very concerned. The current staff leadership has hidden facts and financial information from the City and has mismanaged funds. To what extent we just do not know yet. SPU is technically owned by the City, putting it back under control of the City will also be very helpful for cutting the “red-tape” and creating transparency for development projects. The Utilities, once re-aligned, could be a very cost-efficient opportunity for the rate payers.|
|What are some other issues you hope to focus on as a city council member?||My top priorities are: |
1. Navigating the City through the future loss of revenues and unknown effects of the COVID19 pandemic.
2. The successful re-configuration of the water & electric utilities if the voters choose to dissolve SPUC.
3. I am very excited for the potential of the City’s “Cultural Corridor” along the river. The City invested a lot of time and money on the award winning 2040 Comprehensive plan and Parks Master Plan. We need to continue to move forward with planning for these types of things in a COVID-19-free future.