(Editor’s note: Four candidates — Chad Wurm, Michael McDonough, Ryan Holmgren and Barb Burandt — are running for an open Elk River City Council seat in Ward 3. The top two winners in the Aug. 14 primary election will advance to the general election in November. Click on their names to read about each candidate.)
by Joni Astrup
Ryan Holmgren is running for a seat on the Elk River City Council and would love the opportunity to give back to the community he calls home.
Plus, he said, “I’m kind of a political nerd.”
A social studies teacher at Jackson Middle School in Champlin, Holmgren teaches classes like American history, government and geography. He’s been teaching for 13 years, 10 of them in the Anoka-Hennepin School District.
He also has been on the Elks girls basketball coaching staff for five years and just finished his first season as the Elks’ baseball coach.
Holmgren grew up with his dad, Roger, and stepmother, Brenda, in Elk River part of the time and with his mom in Oak Grove. Roger Holmgren, who died in 2008, served on the Elk River City Council from 1986 to 1998.
“I spent a good majority of my childhood in this community and I would consider myself a lifelong resident of Elk River,” Holmgren said.
A St. Francis High School graduate, he has a bachelor’s degree in social studies education with a psychology minor from Bemidji State University and a master’s degree in youth development from Concordia University in St. Paul. His master’s thesis was on leadership.
For the last nine years, he’s been living in a house in Elk River where his grandparents once lived. He and his wife, Sarah, have a daughter who is 2.
“We’ve pretty much established that we’re going to be here and … we’re going to raise a family here,” Holmgren said. “I saw all the good things that were happening when I was raised here and I’d like to continue to be part of that.”
This is his first run for public office. The public service aspect of it is very important to him.
“I owe a lot to this community, I’m very proud of it and I want to give back and do something for the community as well,” he said. “That’s really what it’s about.”
He’d like to make sure that Elk River is ready for the next wave of growth and continues to be a good place to live. At the same time, he wants to do things responsibly, and not overburden people with property taxes and amenities that aren’t needed.
He also said it’s important that Elk River maintains what it has, such as in the area of parks and recreation. “We don’t want to take a step back,” he said.
He also wants to continue to maintain services like police and fire and make sure those departments are adequately funded.
He said he doesn’t have an agenda. “It’s more of a bigger picture for me … of continuing to make Elk River a great place to live and to raise families and doing it responsibly,” he said.