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Exclusive: Interview with Anne Mavity, candidate for Hennepin Co. Commissioner

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The major municipal elections in Minneapolis have wrapped up and the City Council has a new batch of members for the new term. Political junkies looking for their fix of Minnesota politics won’t have much to follow for the first few months of the year save for the special election to fill Third District Hennepin County Commissioner Gail Dorfman’s seat. Commissioner Dorfman announced her decision not to run last November and has since taken an executive position with the homeless advocacy organization St. Stephen’s Human Services. Several candidates have announced their plans to run for her seat, including Anne Mavity, current member of the St. Louis Park City Council. The Examiner was invited to speak with Ms. Mavity in a telephone interview to discuss her previous government work and some of the issues she hopes to tackle if elected.

Ms. Mavity attended Washburn High School and considers “Minneapolis and St. Louis Park as both my hometowns.” She was recently elected to her second term on the St. Louis Park City Council. She attended Lawrence University and received her master’s degree in Public Policy from Georgetown University. She has worked for homeless organizations, been a staff member in the US Congress, and lived in Russia for four years, "working with human rights activists and political leaders on the first democratic elections to ensure transparency and fairness in the election process." She has a husband named Tom and two children, Henry and Mariel.

Asked about her experience on the St. Louis Park Council, Ms. Mavity cited her work on “environmental sustainability.” She recalled one of her first door-knocking trips in which she met a citizen asking about raising live chickens. That conversation spurred the Council Member to legalize the raising of chickens within the city limits. Ms. Mavity also helped create a “citywide organics recycling program” and assisted in the implementation of a “complete streets policy.” The candidate also spearheaded “Health in the Park,” a community health initiative.

Regarding her work on homelessness, Ms. Mavity has worked her “whole career” on this issue, spending “sixteen years” on the “front lines of ending homelessness.” She also stated her desire to “align the service systems with housing.” She mentioned her work on the Lydia Apartment complex at Franklin and Blaisdell, but made a point of saying that the state has “failed our families and youth” in the area of homelessness.

Ms. Mavity worked for a time as a staff member for Representative Henry Gonzalez of Texas. Rep. Gonzalez was chairman of the House Banking Committee and Ms. Mavity served on a subcommittee concerned with “economic and community development.” She also spent some time working on the federal response to Hurricane Andrew. She also mentioned that she had worked on “two housing bills in three years” as a member of the Congressman’s staff.

The conversation turned toward the current position Ms. Mavity seeks to gain. Asked what she hoped to accomplish if elected, the candidate first said “ending homelessness and creating more affordable housing opportunities.” She mentioned that “being homeless is more expensive than the services” used to prevent it. Other priorities for her office would include “environmental sustainability, redesigning our roads, increased recycling, and a regional transit system.”

Ms. Mavity was then asked about a very contentious issue in the district: the Southwest Light Rail (see here for a recent dispatch from your Examiner) project. The candidate spoke about her early support for freight rail relocation in St. Louis Park, saying she was the lone vote in support against six others on the council. However, in recent months worries about train derailments, the safety of a proposed rail berm through the city, and rising costs have turned her opinion against relocation. Ms. Mavity said her “line in the sand” on this project will be its “impact on the chain of lakes.” She also said she would support a tunnel option through the Kenilworth corridor if it can “reduce visual clutter.”

Finally, Ms. Mavity was asked to comment on Commissioner Dorfman’s career on the Hennepin County board. She had met Ms. Dorfman through their advocacy work, and said the Commissioner did a lot of work to “refocus the county on ending homelessness.” She also said that Ms. Dorfman will be “continuing that work from a new vantage point” at St. Stephen’s.

Anne Mavity is running for the seat vacated by current Hennepin County Commissioner Gail Dorfman. The first major test of viability for each of the candidates will be caucus night: click here to find district and caucus information. Click here for an interview with another candidate in the race, Ben Schweigert. And click here for an interview with candidate Marion Greene. Stay tuned to the Examiner for more coverage of the 2014 elections in Minnesota.

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