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MEET BEN

Accessible. Forward-thinking. Consensus-builder.

Dear friends and neighbors,

The reason I'm running for Apple Valley City Council ultimately boils down to this: I love Apple Valley and the people that make our community what it is, but I also think we deserve more from our local elected officials on the council. I have dedicated my career to public service, working with local, state, and federal officials to develop or administer good public policies, and I believe that I can bring this experience - and commitment to serving the people of our community - to the Apple Valley City Council.

 

Professionally, I currently serve the State of Minnesota as the Director of the Governor's Workforce Development Board, which also affords me the honor of serving on the Senior Leadership Team at the Minnesota Department of Employment & Economic Development (DEED). In this role, I work with leaders from businesses, labor unions, state agencies, local governments, education, community-based organizations, and other workforce partners across sectors to develop, advance, or deploy workforce policies, initiatives, or other efforts designed to support career seekers and employers across the state. It has been such a privilege to serve the state in this way, and I remain committed to advancing strategies to better meet the needs of industry and workers moving forward. Prior to working for the State of Minnesota, my most recent professional role was for the Association of Minnesota Counties where I worked closely with colleagues and county officials as a member of the Government Relations team. I'm a former organizer, and I believe in taking a collaborative, community-driven approach to advancing progress through good public policy.

 

I have a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Minnesota, Morris and a Master's in Advocacy and Political Leadership (MAPL) from Metropolitan State University in St. Paul. The unofficial "mantra" of the MAPL program is "Politics is how we care for one another" - meaning politics, public policy, and public service should be focused on helping one another overcome barriers that prevent individuals from accessing opportunities or achieving their highest potential. I believe that elected officials must be steadfast in their commitment to supporting civic engagement, and should be driven by a respect for human dignity, a desire to advance social and environmental justice, and to always defend the public good.

 

Between the pandemic, growing income inequality, existing disparities in our state, and a serious need for more innovation in the public sector, the "same old thinking" from our city council won't cut it anymore. We know that the people and neighborhoods of our city are more than just line items on a budget or different revenue streams for the city. We are tired of the existing council serving as a "rubber stamp" for the wealthy land developers who have delighted in a lack of accountability that has allowed them to build projects with little substantive community input - which has become so blatant that a member of the existing city council even stated (during a public 2021 meeting) that the council itself "primarily exists to approve permits". It is time for more community advocates to be at the table, for residents, and that we move away from the council's current mentality that the opinions of residents don't matter.

 

I firmly believe that we can do better for the working families of Apple Valley, for the environment and natural resources in our community, and for the next generation that will be forced to deal with the choices we make today in our community. I hope to be able to earn your support in this election so that we can do this important work together!

Thank you,

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