Meet the Commissioners: Jeff Dains (Lauderdale)
Jeff Dains moved to Lauderdale with his family in 1986 in order to enjoy what he calls “small town living with all of the big city amenities nearby.” An avid birder, he soon found himself drawn into local politics by environmental issues. One thing led to another, and Dains won a seat on the city council in 1989.
Since then, Dains has provided leadership for the city — first as a council member, then as mayor from 1992 to 2016 (he decided to step down as mayor due to declining vision), and now again as a council member. In 2018, he was appointed to the MWMO Board of Commissioners — something that fit well with his environmental focus.
“I’m very supportive of what the MWMO does. It’s been helpful for us in terms of doing more community cleanups and adopt-a-drains,” Dains says.
Nestled between Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Roseville, Lauderdale’s total land mass is less than one-half square mile, and its population sits at just under 2,400. In spite of its diminutive size, Lauderdale contains portions of three different watersheds: Capitol Region, Rice Creek, and the MWMO. As such, it features some unique environmental challenges.
Flooding has been an issue. An old streetcar trolley line runs through the area; it was turned into a path and tends to hold a lot of water. Runoff from a nearby golf course also impacts the city.
During his time in office, Dains created two new parks and established a nature area. He also oversaw the reconstruction of most of the city’s road and stormsewer infrastructure. He expanded Lauderdale’s environmental programs and helped it achieve GreenStep City status.
Although no major MWMO projects have been built in Lauderdale, Dains says the MWMO’s education and outreach activities have benefitted the city. MWMO staff have made presentations to the city council and held community cleanups and other events.
“The community outreach that MWMO does is quite impressive, in working with some of these youth groups and raising environmental awareness of young people,” Dains says.
Dains says the city council is aware and sensitive to environmental issues, including climate change. He personally tries to spread awareness among residents of the impacts of yard care and other everyday activities on water quality and habitat.
Dains is retired from his primary career as a labor representative for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). He is married and has two grown children. You can learn more on his website.