Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat Won’t Seek Re-Election
Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat, who has represented the northwest suburbs for nearly 30 years, announced this week that he’s not seeking re-election. His term expires at the end of the year.
Opat was the driving force behind the construction of Target Field. He was also instrumental in the renovation of the World War I monument of Victory Memorial Drive in Robbinsdale, among other accomplishments.
Now after 27 years of serving Hennepin County, he says it’s time to move on.
“It wasn’t an easy decision. This is a great job,” Commissioner Opat said. “And it provides all kinds of different opportunities and great variety. But there’s a time, and I think the time is now. I’ve done most anything that can be done up here. And at some point it’s time to hand it off, and I’d rather that be on my terms.”
Opat has served on the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners since 1993. The Robbinsdale resident’s long list of accomplishments include creating the Hennepin County Youth Sports Grants, which account for more than $25 million in investments across the county. He also helped build new libraries in Brooklyn Center and Brooklyn Park.
Opat: Target Field Not My Greatest Achievement
Hennepin County residents may best know Opat for spearheading the financing, development and construction of Target Field. Yet he wouldn’t list that as his greatest achievement.
“I mean, Target Field is certainly a big thing, the light rail is certainly a big thing,” Opat said. “But in terms of preventing human misery, which is largely what the county’s job is here in Minnesota, and ensuring human potential, helping kids not have kids before they’re ready is the biggest thing we’ve done. And we’re outperforming the state and the nation in that, and I’m really proud of that.”
Opat says he’s not sure what he plans to do next, but he doesn’t want to retire and he has no plans to run for another office.
The District 1 commissioner is the third to announce a departure from the county board at the end of the year. The others are District 6 Commissioner Jan Callison and District 7 Commissioner Jeff Johnson, whose district includes Maple Grove and northwest Plymouth.
Candidates to Announce for District 1 Seat
So far a couple local candidates have announced intentions to run for Opat’s District 1 seat. District 1 serves the cities of Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Crystal, New Hope, Osseo and Robbinsdale.