Reporting Bill Hudson
ANOKA, Minn. (WCCO) — When you’ve held public office for the past three decades, there are a lot of papers to sort and boxes to pack. For outgoing Anoka County Commissioner, Dan Erhart, it’s not easy saying goodbyes.
“Thirty years is a long time,” Erhart said.
He was first elected to the county board in November 1982. From 1987 to 2004, Erhart led the board as chairman. While he admits he never really intended to get into public service, he’s enjoyed having the opportunity to get things done — from building badly needed transportation infrastructure to the building of a new law enforcement center.
“Yes, I’m a progressive. I’m certainly not considered a liberal. I want good return on our dollars spent and I’ll always be that way,” he said.
During his tenure leading the county board, Erhart cites the decision to partner with Hennepin and Sherburne counties on building of the Northstar commuter rail as among his proudest accomplishments.
“We didn’t build it for next year or the year after — this system will serve us for the next 30, 40, 50 years,” Erhart said.
But perhaps one of Erhart’s biggest disappointments has to be the failure to convince the Minnesota Vikings and owner Ziggy Wilf that Anoka County should be the site of their new stadium.
Erhart maintains the land in Blaine would have provided the team with much more than a football stadium and training facility. The Wilf’s would have had the opportunity to develop a retailing destination similar to the Mall of America.
Still, he says the only regret is leaving behind good people who care about making Anoka County a better place in which to live and work.
“Let me put it this way, I am pleased and I feel the reward of being able to work with really good people,” he said. “And to move the agenda to better prepare Anoka county for the future.”
Erhart will officially step down on Jan. 7 when newly-elected commissioner Scott Schulte is sworn in.
Erhart says he will devote more time to the family business and he looks forward to doing more pheasant hunting in South Dakota.