It is common in the lakes area for individuals to move here after retiring, then look to serve by joining a city council or various city committees.
For newly elected Breezy Point Mayor Todd Roggenkamp, the city’s issues have been front-and-center since childhood.
“I was born and raised on the south end of Big Pelican Lake,” Roggenkamp said. “My formative years were all here in this area. I grew up here and watched this place grow. I've watched it go from what it used to be to what it is now - with trepidation, at times.”
"I grew up here and watched this place grow. I've watched it go from what it used to be to what it is now - with trepidation, at times."
— Breezy Point Mayor, Todd Roggenkamp.
The Pequot Lakes High School and Brainerd Community College graduate has spent many years educating others - often on how a government works - and now serves as a government official in his hometown.
“I don't know if it ever really sinks in,” Roggenkamp said. “I see my position as the mayor as a privilege and an honor to serve the people of Breezy Point - that they entrusted in me to help move their city forward as part of the council.”
After several years working in both public and charter schools, Roggenkamp turned to educating the public in regard to conservation, first serving as executive director of the Long Lake Conservation Center in Palisade before joining the Safari Club International Foundation as assistant director of education - a position he has held for nearly a decade.
“I work with developing education programs that teach about conservation and the role hunting plays in it,” Roggenkamp said. “We do a large program every year out in Wyoming … We bring educators in from all over the United States and we teach them about conservation, and give them resources, curriculum and information that they can take back to teach their kids about in their own classrooms.”
An avid outdoors enthusiast, Roggenkamp also serves as president of the Minnesota trappers Association, although he will not run again after his term ends in August.
He now lives in the area with his wife, DeAnn, and has three grown daughters - Brandi, Bailee and Brie.
His background as a social studies teacher, he believes. gives him a reasonable understanding of how government works. Living in the area for much of his life, he also feels he has the “bigger picture” of the city as a whole and the issues facing it.
“One of the things that I've always heard from people is that they moved to Breezy Point because they love the country - the lakes and the land and that ‘country feel’ that our community has,” he said. “What I saw was that we were losing that. I felt that we were maybe starting to move away from that a little bit with some of the things that the city was wanting to do.”
"One of the things that I've always heard from people is that they moved to Breezy Point because they love the country - the lakes and the land and that 'country feel' that our community has."
— Todd Roggenkamp.
Of course, he does not feel change is inherently bad, neither is economic development, but both need to come with the best interests of the residents of Breezy Point in mind Roggenkamp said, noting Breezy Point can retain its rural, outdoors feel while also recognizing that it is now a “fairly large community.”
He said the city’s handling of its many tax-forfeited lots acted as a sort of catalyst to his campaign. He believes residents should have had more of an opportunity to purchase that property.
“I am and always will be a firm believer in the concept that we govern for the people, by the people,” Roggenkamp said. “So, what we do in government and how we govern as a city council, and myself as the mayor, should be done with the best interests of the citizens that live here in mind.”
Now with two regular meetings and a number of committee meetings under his belt, Roggenkamp said the work he’s doing is roughly what he expected coming into the job, but he's grateful to have experienced individuals working around him.
“I'm very thankful that we have the staff we have at Breezy Point,” Roggenkamp said. “The staff really is what makes the city go. When you look at the mayor and the council, our job is to set policies and listen to the recommendations of the staff. We are all a part of that hub, and one piece isn’t more important than the other. The staff serve an important aspect of it. The council and the mayor serve an important aspect of it and we all work together as a team.”
Roggenkamp said there are many things he would like to see happen during his time as mayor, including various road projects as well as looking at public requests for more recreational trails and a potential community center. He said the main goal for him is to move the community forward in a positive manner that benefits the community.
However, he wanted to remind the public that significant changes can take time.
“We live in a society today where we are used to everything happening right now - instant gratification,” Roggenkamp said. “Government doesn't operate that way, as much as we would like it to. There is a set of processes in place that have been set forth by people that came way before us about the proper ways to do it.
"Government doesn't operate that way (instantly), as much as we would like it to. There is a set of processes in place that have been set forth by people that came way before us about the proper ways to do it."
— Todd Roggenkamp.
“I guess our challenge, as elected officials and staff in the city, is to help educate people to make them understand the process.”
While his primary focus is on helping the citizens of Breezy Point, he understands that working closely with other communities in a larger context can be beneficial to the entire lakes area.
“I'm really excited to have the opportunity and the privilege to work for the people,” Roggenkamp said. “I think there's a lot of ways and opportunities that we can be successful on many different fronts, not only individually - internally as a city - but beyond that, working with others.”
Dan Determan may be reached at 218-855-5879 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Dan.