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Getting to know Paul Reinke
A closer look at Oakdale’s appointed mayor
Because the death of Washington County Commissioner Ted Bearth last year set off a chain reaction — Oakdale Mayor Stan Karwoski won a special election to fill Bearth’s county board seat and then retiring council member Paul Reinke was appointed mayor in December — Reinke says it left little time to reflect on the swift transition.
It’s been about two months since Reinke, 58, was sworn in as mayor, but he’s not new to City Hall. He had been a city council member since 2005.
Reinke and his wife Carol are longtime Oakdale residents, and he began his service to the city by joining the Economic Development Commission. He says he had been serving for several years when Bearth, who was a good friend, convinced him to run for a seat on the council.
Reinke describes his first term as both exciting and serious and, of course, full of learning.
“When sitting up at the dais making comments and eventually voting for a position, I quickly realized the responsibility that went along with the authority which I had been given,” Reinke says. “I really enjoyed being part of the process to help create and improve the community.”
He says that he later campaigned for a second term because of all the good things happening in Oakdale. He added that he wanted to support “the elected leadership and professional city staff in keeping the community moving forward in a positive manner.”
Although he was re-elected in 2008 and 2012, Reinke chose not run in the 2016 election, which may have been surprising to residents who had grown accustomed to his presence on the council.
“Since Mayor Karwoski and the other councilors were doing a nice job, and since I was coming up on the completion of my third term; I discussed with my wife about retiring from council and decided that the timing was right to do so,” Reinke says.
But when Karwoski won his county commissioner race last November and was sworn in a month early, city officials had to choose how to replace him. Reinke explains that Oakdale could have either held a special election right way or someone had to be appointed as mayor with a special election to follow sometime before the original term ends.
City officials decided to appoint someone to fill the mayoral seat, and Reinke asked his fellow council members to consider him.
“I thought I had the skills, experience and relationships with my council colleagues and professional city staff to do a nice job in the role of mayor and finish the remaining approximately two years that were left on [Karwoski’s] term,” Reinke says.
Some of those skills evolved from his career outside of politics. Reinke is director of development and construction at IRET Properties, where he orchestrates and then manages the architectural and construction process for new medical buildings and apartment communities in Minnesota.
“I’m fortunate to have had wonderful training experiences in my business career and in learning how to manage complex commercial real estate projects successfully and creating and running my own business,” Reinke says.
“Those experiences taught me how to set goals and clear objectives, and then work with people to achieve them.”
Reinke also says he brings to the position his “value of hard work, helping out neighbors and honoring God” — values that he learned early on from his family.
“I use all of these experiences to help me represent the residents in Oakdale, and work with others to get good things accomplished,” he says.
Reinke has a long list of accomplishments he is proud to have been a part of as a city council member. Some of those include the arrangement with 3M to provide filtration expertise and methods for filtering the city’s drinkable water supply, helping to maintain reasonable property-tax rates and spending levels, helping to maintain good financial credit rating and supporting funding for effective police and fire departments.
Other projects he was proud to support over the years include the HyVee and Waters Senior Housing development on 10th Street, the Walton Park band shell, the Red Oak development on 50th Street, the Oakdale Discovery Center and the Tanners Lake ballfield and lighting projects.
Reinke says he is “proud to be a part of a leadership team that encourages high-quality developments and a high level of responsiveness to residents,” and he enjoys highlighting the work of Oakdale’s many volunteers.
As mayor, Reinke says he plans to prioritize maintaining Oakdale’s “highly responsive police and fire protection services, maintaining our reasonable city budgets and completing the comprehensive plan for the community.”
He also plans to focus on continuing the planning and study for the development of the 200-acre site just north of the Slumberland Headquarters on Old Highway 5 (County Road 14) and continuing the planning and development for the Gold Line bus rapid transit route on the south end of Oakdale, and the Hadley Avenue/Highway 36 interchange on the north end of Oakdale.
Although a date has not been set yet for the special mayoral election, Reinke says he expects the city will add it to another already established election, so that costs can be reduced.
It is unclear if Reinke will run in the special election; instead he is focusing on his current role.
He says, “I plan to work hard in this mayoral role, and serve with my council colleagues and the professional staff so that the community and business can positively grow and residents can lead enjoyable lives.”
Aundrea Kinney can be reached at 651-748-7822 or firstname.lastname@example.org.