Mendota Heights Mayor Stephanie Levine feels as though the work that began when she was elected in 2020 is not complete. That is why she is running for a second term. “Two years is a nice amount of time to get a lot accomplished,” she said, “but you really need more years in office to finish what you start and to have that continuity.”
Levine’s bid for reelection in the November 8 general election is facing a strong challenge from John Maczko and a contingent of residents who in February opposed plans to construct a 79-unit apartment building on the southern edge of Mendota Plaza.
Some residents believe the new housing complex will cause a dangerous uptick in traffic on Dodd Road near its intersection with Highway 62. Others view the development as a way to broaden the city’s tax base. The 79-unit building and a 58-unit building on the northern edge of Mendota Plaza were approved by Levine and the City Council last winter.
Maczko has accused Levine and City Council members John Mazzitello and Joel Paper with not listening to residents in the lead-up to the council’s 3-2 vote for approval in February. “Our elected officials need to remember that it’s the residents who voted them in,” Maczko said. “They’re supposed to be representing the community. People didn’t feel like they were being heard. That’s not how Mendota Heights has done business before.”
Levine stands behind her support for the new housing in Mendota Plaza. According to her, the development complied with the city’s 2040 comprehensive plan and many citizens favored the new buildings.
Maczko, 62, is a lifelong resident of Mendota Heights. A graduate of Henry Sibley (now Two Rivers) High School, he earned a B.S. degree in civil engineering at the University of Minnesota and an MBA at the University of Saint Thomas.
Maczko is a registered professional civil engineer. He has worked in the field for over three decades, including 33 years in the Saint Paul Department of Public Works. He has served Mendota Heights as a firefighter for 39 years, 32 of them as fire chief. According to him, traffic congestion is the biggest issue facing the city.
Maczko believes his professional background makes him uniquely qualified to bring about the necessary changes in the Highway 62 corridor. To address the traffic backups that plague the area, he said, he would work with the city Traffic Committee that formed in February to communicate with the Minnesota Department of Transportation about the city’s traffic concerns.
Maczko said that securing better cellphone coverage for Mendota Heights and laying the groundwork for more open communication between citizens and city officials are some of his other top priorities. “It’s a matter of every person’s voice (counting),” he said. “A person should not go into City Hall and feel worse coming out than when he or she came in.”
Levine, 57, has lived in Mendota Heights for over 30 years. She holds a B.S. degree in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a master’s degree in mathematics from the University of Minnesota and worked for 15 years in the private sector as an actuary specializing in health care and pensions. She and her husband Jimmy have three children, all of whom graduated from Henry Sibley (now Two Rivers) High School.
Levine believes her grasp of numbers and ability to see the big picture give her a leg up as mayor. She served eight years on the Mendota Heights Parks and Recreation Commission, including two years as chair. She also served for seven years on the District 197 School Board.
Under Levine’s leadership, Mendota Heights adopted a Natural Resources Management Plan and created a Natural Resources Commission. The city also launched a volunteer Community Emergency Response Team, and in March 2021 it committed to sustainable practices through the GreenStep Program.
Levine has also worked with the mayors of Lilydale and Sunfish Lake to address regional issues, such as the spreading infestation of the emerald ash borer. That effort, she said, demonstrates the collaborative spirit she would carry into her second term. “We’re much better off when we expand our view,” Levine said. “I believe in a very large tent.”
— Casey Ek
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