Candidate blog series: Donna Laake, President of Council (R)
I previously served on Norwood City Council from 1980 – 1983 as the representative of Ward 5, during some of the bleakest times financially in the City during the “Fiscal Emergency.” I was the first woman elected to office in Norwood and took that very seriously, wanting to make sure that I did my homework and could pave the way for other women to get involved in making our city better. I also served as Clerk of Council from 1986 – 1987.
Folks probably know me best as the former Health Commissioner at Norwood City Health Department. I began working at the health department in 1992 as an RN doing home visits, and eventually became the health commissioner in 1995. Upon my retirement in 2008, I knew that I needed to continue in another capacity to serve Norwood, so I ran for City Council Ward 3, winning with over 63% of the vote. I serve as Chair of the Committee of the Whole where issues affecting the entire city are discussed. I am a member of Law & Ordinance and Health & Safety Committees as well as the Clerk Pro Tem.
As a member of Council over the past 2 years, I have had to make some tough decisions regarding budgets, union contracts and city services. I did not back down from those tough decisions, despite being unpopular with some folks. I did what I thought was right for the citizens that I represented. I was pleased to hear from people throughout the city that they respected the hard stands that I had to take – it was what sustained me during that difficult time.
Two years ago, I said that citizens should hear from their Council person other than at election time and that we needed to do something to improve the condition of our rental properties, especially those with absentee landlords. During my tenure, residents of Ward 3 have received my news letter letting them know about issues that are important to them. I have also answered phone calls and emails and have spoken to many of you about problems in our neighborhoods. Many times, I have been able to solve those problems; other times it may not have been possible. I have also been an integral part of working with a group of good landlords to develop a proven program to assist in making our rental units more desirable, better maintained and filled with renters that will obey our laws and be a part of our community. Look for this new program to be presented to City Council in the upcoming months.
This year, I was asked to step up and run for President of Council. I accepted that challenge after receiving the support of Jane Grote, the current President of Council. When I think back to those who have served as President of Council - Bill Cosgrove, Ron Pennington, and Jane Grote – I am humbled to be asked to follow in their footsteps. Each has served with distinction and assured that Council meetings were run in an orderly and professional manner. I promise to do everything within my power to keep that tradition.
On a personal level, I have been married to Bob Laake, a lifelong Norwood resident, for over 39 years. We have two grown children who are both married: Kevin (Norwood class of 1995) and Rebecca (Norwood class of 1999). I am an active member of Holy Trinity Church and am employed part time as an RN/Injury Prevention Coordinator at a local hospital.
My only promise is this: to be PROFESSIONAL when representing you as President of Council. I ask for your vote in November to help me continue “working for the good of the city.”