Posted by Jenifer Loon
PG Narayanan, Kathy Nelson and Mark Freiberg - Eden Prairie City Council Candidate Forum
Three of the four candidates that have filed to run for positions on Eden Prairie’s City Council attended the October 2nd meeting and participated in a candidate forum, moderated by Irene Kelly. Andrew Moeller was not able to attend the forum, but submitted a written statement that Irene read aloud to the club and guests in attendance. All candidates were offered time to make brief opening and closing statements, and were each asked to respond to the same questions.
In their opening statements, each candidate briefly outlined why they were running. Andrew Moeller’s statement emphasized his desire to work for the “forgotten person”—the taxpayer, and to find ways to lower property taxes and save money while keeping high quality services in Eden Prairie. Andrew’s platform includes having the city exit the liquor business, selling the building it owns on Den Road which houses one of the municipal liquor stores and transferring the proceeds from the building and liquor inventory to city operations—an estimated $6 million. Andrew is a Minnesota native and 33 year Eden Prairie resident.
Mark Freiberg is running to make a difference and feels he has a good skill set to bring solutions to the problems facing the city. Mark has served on the Planning Commission, the Historical Society and has owned several small businesses. Mark is a 37 year resident of Eden Prairie.
PG Narayanan came to the U.S. 30 years ago, and to Eden Prairie 20 years ago. PG spoke no English when he came to the U.S., but he worked hard putting himself through school, eventually earning a master’s degree in medical engineering. He couldn’t imagine being able to achieve all the things he has done in any other country in the world. PG is grateful for the opportunities he has had in Eden Prairie and wants to “give back”. PG has served on the Human Rights and Diversity Commission, and is the current Chair of the Eden Prairie Community Foundation.
Kathy Nelson is the only incumbent running for re-election, having served on the Council since 2006. Kathy  believes she has made a difference in the city, working for innovation in areas such as energy efficiency. The city now has all highly efficient lighting and gas-guzzlers have been eliminated from our fleet, and Kathy credits these initiatives with helping to keep property taxes lower while services remain high quality. She believes in solving problems before they start, and is pleased that Eden Prairie has been able to obtain funds from surcharges on residents’ local electric and gas bills so that special assessments for street repair and maintenance are not necessary. 
Questions posed to the candidates include 1) How to control traffic in Eden Prairie?; 2) Can you share your vision for how we can attract new businesses and economic development to Eden Prairie?; 3) Use three words to describe your leadership style; 4) What are the top three issues you see facing the city and the scope of services provided?; and finally 5) Will Eden Prairie every have a “cool downtown” with a city center, and how can we sustain Eden Prairie as a great place to live?
In closing statements, the candidates each summed up why they believed they should be elected to the Eden Prairie City Council. Kathy Nelson emphasized that she pledges to citizens they won’t have to worry about roads, sewers, police and fire protection, etc, because she will do that for them. She wants to maintain Eden Prairie’s green spaces, high level of services, and low taxes through a sensible budget. PG Narayanan emphasized his skills as a logical thinker and problem solver, and said he would serve the city beyond any personal agenda, talking to citizens and listening to the community. He wants to tackle the problems of homelessness, sex trafficking, and affordable housing. Mark Freiberg closed by stating an election is about ideas and Mark wants to provide real solutions for real people. He has a vision of making Eden Prairie a better place for our children and grandchildren and, if elected, will deliver on that vision.
  • Mark Freiberg happily noted his 47th wedding anniversary.
  • Suzanne Kutina announced that Conn McCartan, former EPHS principal, has taken the job as Executive Director for the Foundation for Eden Prairie Schools (FEPS) . FEPS has an outstanding speaker on mental health for an event on Monday evening, October 8th at the EPHS auditorium, and members are encouraged to attend.
  • Jay Simpson happily paid in recognition of his 29th wedding anniversary, and for John Crudele’s amazing talk with the STRIVE students and mentors at their first meeting of the school year on Friday, September 28th .
  • Jenifer Loon was proud of her daughter, Erica, who received her ‘white coat’ in a special ceremony at Des Moines University where she is studying to be a doctor. Jenifer also noted John Crudele’s fantastic talk at STRIVE, and announced that Eden Prairie Schools will be receiving $275,000 in school safety grant money from the state—a program Jenifer sponsored at the Legislature.