Chanhassen City Hall

Four Chanhassen City Council candidates participated in a candidate forum on Tuesday, Oct. 20.

There are two seats open this election cycle. Haley Pemrick Schubert, Ryan Soller, Lucille "Lucy" Rehm and incumbent Jerry McDonald attended the live-streamed event. Matthew Etheridge was unable to attend. Hosted by Buy Chanhassen, former mayor Tom Furlong moderated.

The newspaper has summarized the candidate’s answers to the three subjects addressed in the forum.

On the role of cities during the pandemic

Haley Pemrick Schubert:

Local businesses know how to handle themselves in a safe manner, and the city should allow them to open as they see fit while also connecting them with local resources.

“The city council can help the public learn more about these small and local businesses and be that advocate at the county and state level.”

Ryan Soller:

The city should not be an entity that gets in the way — they shouldn’t think they know how to run a business, or tell business owners how to run their own.

“We should not be putting more undue financial burdens, regulations and other barriers on our businesses. We need to get out of the way and let them utilize their creativity and innovation.”

Lucy Rehm:

The city should focus on internet access, infrastructure and supporting their local community. Creating more walkable streets would also positively impact many local businesses.

“The city should allow our businesses to do these things to adapt like outdoor patios. Whatever we can do to support our local community.”

Jerry McDonald:

Since the pandemic, the city has received federal funding and teamed with county programs and local businesses to let them know about grants and other resources.

“Should we come out and tell everyone what to do and how to conduct their business? No. We will help enforce what they come up with, while complying with state mandates.”

On allowing new developments despite resident opposition

Ryan Soller:

The city’s role isn’t to look at market conditions, but to get out of the way and empower those people and businesses. However, he would be elected by the residents, so his preference would be to his constituents, not developers.

Lucy Rehm:

Her role in developments is to listen, learn and be an independent voice for the residents, without any outside interference.

Jerry McDonald:

The city does not decide if a business can come to town — if they follow the requirements, the council brings it forward. While there are often vocal groups in opposition, the city must weigh what’s in the best interest for the community and the developer when making decisions.

Haley Pemrick Schubert:

She would listen and fight for Chanhassen residents while also exploring the concerns raised. Property owners have the right to do what they want on their land, but the city should also be looking at short- and long-term effects.

On finding a new city manager 

Lucy Rehm:

Staff turnover has been a big issue as several major figures are transitioning. The city needs people who know the history, but can also bring forward new, progressive thinking.

“This is an opportunity for us to get some new voices. I hope we can find someone who can lead us forward, a person willing to look, listen and learn about this community.”

Jerry McDonald:

During his three prior terms, Chanhassen was in a “growth” mode. Now as the city transitions from growing to maturing, they won’t have as much funding, which presents a challenge for the future staff.

“We still need to provide our services, so the city manager needs to look at this change and how we can survive through it while helping our residents.”

Haley Pemrick Schubert:

It’s tough to see these city staff members leave because they are such a wealth of information. She would like to find someone who has learned from their past experiences, along with someone knowledgeable about long term strategic planning.

“We’re getting to the end of how much we can develop, so we need to figure out how we can be funding things for the future.”

Ryan Soller:

There are always risks hiring new people, but the opportunities are more exciting. When finding a new city manager, he would prioritize trust, creativity and a mind for innovation.

“I don’t want Chanhassen to become a run-of-the-mill suburb. We need critical thinking and exciting ideas to grow our city.”