A sure thing on election night
Empire township board of supervisors chairman Terry Holmes is pretty sure he knows the outcome of his reelection bid next week. Chances are, he'll be successful.
Holmes is running unopposed, and it's not the first time. In the more than two decades he has spent on the Empire Town Board, he has never once run against another candidate. Holmes isn't actually sure just how many years he's actually been on the board. It's been 23 or 24, he thinks. He's kind of lost count.
"It's fun to watch our community grow and to be a part of it," Holmes said. "I have done this for so many years, it just seems to be a part of me now."
Come to think of it, Holmes isn't sure how many years he has been the board chairman, either. Eight or nine, he thinks. In any event, he knows just why he's the chairman, instead of one of his two fellow supervisors, Ed Gerten or Jamie Elvestad. Holmes is the retired guy. The one who has the time to go to meetings during the day. And that's okay with him. Years and years of conversations with folks at Dakota County, the Metropolitan Council or the cities of Farmington or Rosemount have resulted in a strong working relationship and a good rapport with those who have a little input on Empire's future.
Not that Empire is building out anytime soon. Holmes seems to be pretty in-tune with the will of the residents - the will to remain a rural community in a suburban area.
"It's been a long time. There's that history that goes with it. You know people, you know what they want," he said. "It's not that we're afraid of change. We simply control it."
One of the things Holmes is proud of is that Empire Township doesn't carry much debt. When they decide to do a project, and there haven't been that many municipal projects over the past few years, the township saves its pennies and builds a financial plan to pay for that project. When the township's water tower was installed, the township had saved up for it and it was paid off in cash.
"We've been lucky. We have been able to pay for most of our stuff in cash. We've done some proactive planning. We do a lot of looking at what we need down the line," he said. "We're still small enough that we can do that. It does get frustrating sometimes when we get snow and we only have two guys plowing. Other than that, it's hard to get any major complaints."
One might wonder why he continues in the position, especially after so many years. He doesn't have an answer, other than he enjoys being part of a community - and having a say in how fast or slowly that community grows and changes.
He identifies himself as a member of not only the board of supervisors, but the overall community of Empire Township. Despite attempts to get answers about his own personal motivation on the board, he diverts most of his answers to the ever-present "we." Holmes is quick to include the rest of the board, as well as the township's planning and parks and recreation commissions to the reason things seem to run well in Empire.
As an example of the township coming together as a community, he talks about last year's town celebration that drew about 560 people, or the Sunday entertainment series held in the park during the summer. That brings anywhere from 30 to 150 people out on a regular basis. And that's the stuff he likes to see.
"I think the people are very interested (in what happens at the township board meetings), but for the most part, I think they're satisfied in the community," Holmes said. "Things don't change real fast out here. It's sort of like a small community feeling that still exists here. I think people like living here. It's a nice little place to live."
So when election day rolls around next week, it's not likely Holmes will lose much sleep the night before. He already knows the outcome. Instead, he'll concern himself more with what information to share with Empire residents at the annual meeting, scheduled for 8:15 p.m., after the polls are closed.