Former Richfield City Council member and state legislator Edwina Garcia will serve Richfield on the council again
Garcia defeated David Buzicky 2,943 votes to 2,025 for the open Ward 2 Richfield City Council seat on Tuesday, Nov. 6.
But as she celebrated her victory on election night, she made some comments that drew the objections of the man she will replace on the city council.
Ready to take over Jan. 1, Garcia advocated for a more hands-on city council. “I think we need to approach a lot of things in a totally different way than what we’ve been doing,” Garcia said.
She believes the council can work better with city staff and says said there is a need for an “attitude change” within the body.
“There are some opportunities that folks bring to the city staff and I think city staff should really take an issue or a proposal or whatever and look at it, and not, ‘Well, no, that won’t fit there. And to heck with that’”
Wroge retorted, “She’s really starting off on the wrong foot here with these statements that she’s made.”
Wroge is leaving the city council after two terms, citing his desire for term limits as one reason for exiting. “I really don’t know how we’re going to compare,” Wroge said. But he later added, “I hope she works as I did to bring development to Richfield.”
He called Garcia’s comments a “slight to all five of us (on the council)” and insisted that “never for a minute would I second-guess anybody on the staff.”
Councilmember Pat Elliott took issue with Garcia’s charge that the council could be more proactive, citing the recent spate of redevelopment in Richfield. “Sixty million dollars in projects over the last decade. How much more proactive can we be?” he responded.
It is clear that Garcia, who served on the city council in the 1980s and as a Democratic state representative in the 1990s, is fundamentally different from Wroge as a policy maker.
“I think anybody that knows the two of them knows they probably come from different sides of the political spectrum,” Elliott said.
How she will enact her vision will be much different, too. Wroge has proven to be a stern questioner of city staff and others coming before the council during meetings. “Garcia won’t try to bowl you over or anything like that,” said Mayor Debbie Goettel.
“She has a very different style than Wroge but I think she still will ask a lot of questions.”
There is hope Garcia’s experience at the state level may help develop plans for an underpass on 77th Street East where it meets Cedar Avenue. “I’m hoping that she knows the ropes over there. We’re not getting a lot of help from our state representatives. We’re getting a lot of lip service but nobody’s pushing it,” Elliott said.
Wroge was skeptical of her ability, though. “Will she ask for information or is she going to shoot from the hip all the time?” Wroge questioned.
He asked for consistency in Garcia’s leadership, saying, “I don’t care what her politics are. I just don’t care if she’s a liberal or a conservative or anywhere in the middle.”
Garcia said she will bring an open mind to the council. “We’ve got to look for whatever doors are open and we’ve got to actively participate in finding and making opportunities happen in Richfield,” she said.