As the District 5 Commissioner, Debbie represents Bloomington, Eden Prairie, and Richfield on the Hennepin County Board. She lives in Richfield, where she raised her son and was the mayor for 10 years. A methodical thinker, Debbie enjoyed a successful career as an engineer in the environmental and sustainability fields. She earned her engineering degree from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities and completed additional graduate studies for environmental sustainability at the University of Minnesota and Harvard. In her business career, Debbie has worked for a number of companies such as Medtronic, Montgomery Watson, and Weyerhauser. She currently owns a small business and is involved in several startups.
Debbie was elected to her first term as a Hennepin County Commissioner in November 2016; she is currently in the fourth and final year of that term. She was first elected Mayor of Richfield in 2006, where her neighbors re-elected her twice more in 2010 and 2014.
Her colleagues describe her as a problem solver and a regional thinker with big vision. She is tough and decisive, and also caring and collaborative. She listens to all sides of issues, understands complexity and is willing to look for common ground and ways to move challenging issues forward.
Debbie is no stranger to adversity. She was widowed when her son was very young, and she worked hard to raise him as a single parent. She credits terrific schools and a wonderful community in which to raise a family. After marrying her husband Tor just a few years ago, she is now the proud mother to two sons and a daughter. She is a grandmother of four.
We have endured months of uncertainty and heartbreak due to COVID-19. We’ve lost loved ones, jobs, and many of our local businesses. Even as we deal with the immediate crisis, Debbie is thinking about what life should look like after the pandemic is over. Her priorities include:
- Educating the public on resources available to them
- Ensuring everyone can remain in a safe household through increased rent support
- Connecting local businesses with grants and loans to help keep their doors open
- Equipping all county buildings to accommodate public health best practices, including
- Expanding options for remote service in our libraries and service centers
- Requiring masks to enter county buildings, and providing them for free to the people entering the building
- Implement traffic-control plans to ensure visitors and staff can all remain at least 6 feet apart
- Making hand sanitizer available in all county buildings
- Training staff to ensure we are following Minnesota Department of Health protocols
- Monitoring all employees for signs of fever and illness when they come to work each day
Debbie’s goal is to ensure that responsive long-term planning for the transportation, economic development, environmental sustainability, public health issues are provided in the most efficient and fiscally responsible way. The County has a critical role in the growth of the region, and District 5 has a variety of unique strengths to build upon and challenges to be transformed into opportunities.
Transportation & Infrastructure
Our roads and bridges are aging. Well-maintained transportation corridors are key to the economic success of Hennepin County and the entire metro area. Many of the roads and bridges we use were not designed to support the current traffic levels. Delaying maintenance leads to costly vehicle repairs and higher taxes.
As your Hennepin County Commissioner, Debbie will advocate for long-term sustainable funding to fix, repair and reconstruct roads, bridges and underpasses.
Promoting Economic Development
Our population is growing, and we need to keep up. The County can provide small and local business loans, customized job training, and other options based on the specialized needs of industries in the area. As your Commissioner, I will partner with local schools and organizations to make sure our students and workers are ready for our changing economy.
We need to ensure our workforce is learning the skills that our businesses require.