Sally Lorberbaum
Sally Lorberbaum
Jeff Nath
Jeff Nath
John Mazitello
John Mazzitello

Density, taxes and traffic congestion dominate debate.

Three candidates are vying this fall for two seats on the Mendota Heights City Council—incumbent John Mazzitello and challengers Sally Lorberbaum and Jeff Nath.

Mazzitello, 52, was appointed to the City Council in 2020 to fill out the remainder of an unexpired term. A civil engineer, he served for eight years as Mendota Heights’ city engineer and public works director and four years on the city’s Planning Commission. His 22 years in the U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard included five overseas deployments.

Mazzitello graduated from Marquette University and earned an MBA from Argosy University with a specialty in public administration. He believes his military service and knowledge of city matters set him apart for the City Council position. “I know how the sausage is made,” he said. 

Mazzitello said if elected, he would prioritize fiscal discipline to preserve the city’s relatively low property tax rates. He would work with citizens to review code enforcement issues, address traffic concerns and create a long-range plan for maintaining city parks and trails. 

Nath, 40, moved to Mendota Heights in 2015. He has his own law practice in White Bear Lake and is trained as a mediator and arbitrator. A graduate of the University of Minnesota with a degree in history, he earned his juris doctorate at Mitchell Hamline School of Law. He said if elected, he would prioritize streamlining city processes to ensure a thorough public review of issues coming before the council and creating a more effective public information system.

Lorberbaum, 72, has lived in Mendota Heights for over 42 years. The lead project manager for a national financial services provider, she has a master’s degree in math education from the University of Minnesota and an MBA from the U of M’s Carlson School of Management.

Having served 10 years on the Mendota Heights Planning Commission, including five years as chair, and on the city’s Airport Relations Commission, Lorberbaum believes her public service sets her apart from the field. If elected, she said, her top priorities would include addressing local concerns about cellphone coverage and traffic congestion.

 

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“We also need to ensure that we keep our taxes very low,” Lorberbaum said. “When we budget, we need to focus on our needs versus our wants.” Her other priorities include working with the Metropolitan Airports Commission to maintain acceptable levels of airplane noise and improving the openness of city government. 

Population density, property taxes and traffic are among the top issues in Mendota Heights this election season. Mazzitello, who joined fellow council member Joel Paper and Mayor Stephanie Levine in approving the development of a 79-unit apartment building in Mendota Plaza, has maintained that the decision was the right one. He contends that At Home Apartments and Paster Properties, the owner of the subdivision, went above and beyond what was legally required to address the concerns of Mendota Heights residents. 

For those who are worried that the city might become too dense, Mazzitello said, “Mendota Heights is already pretty well built out.” It is time to turn to “targeted” and “logical” development on the few vacant properties that are left, he said.

Nath said the lack of two-way communication between citizens and city leaders regarding the Mendota Plaza development was one of the reasons he entered the race for City Council. “If you’re going to complain about something, you better be willing to change something,” he said.

To that end, Nath said if he is elected, he would prioritize a review of the city’s processes to ensure a solid framework for future decisions coming before the council. 

Lorberbaum said she has heard from parents who do not let their children ride their bikes near Dodd Road for fear of their safety. She said she would work with the Minnesota Department of Transportation to address those concerns. “I feel it’s important when people come to the City Council, they should be heard,” she said.

— Casey Ek

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