College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

ECpE alumnus to join Coon Rapids City Council

Wade Demmer and Brad Johnson are Coon Rapids’ two new council members, representing wards 3 and 5, respectively.

They won open seats at the Nov. 4 election caused by the retirements of Paul Johnson (Ward 3) and Bruce Sanders (Ward 5).

Demmer will be sworn in prior to the first council meeting of the year, Monday, Jan. 5, but Johnson won’t be sworn in until the second council meeting, Tuesday, Jan. 20, because a long-standing family commitment will prevent him from attending the Jan. 6 meeting.

Neither Demmer nor Johnson have previous elected office experience, although Johnson did run unsuccessfully for Anoka County Attorney four years ago and has served on the Coon Creek Watershed District Board of Managers, an appointed position.

However, both have family background in public service. Demmer’s father, Mike, who grew up in Coon Rapids, served on the Buffalo City Council for eight years, while Johnson’s grandfather, Robert W. Johnson, and his father, Robert M.A. Johnson, were both Anoka County Attorney for many years.

Wade Demmer

Wade Demmer
Wade Demmer

Demmer was born an American citizen in Australia where his parents had gone to teach for two years. Returning to Minnesota, Demmer grew up in Buffalo, where he graduated from high school, then earned a computer engineering degree at Iowa State University.

Demmer returned to Minnesota and joined Medtronic in Fridley 14 years ago. He is a medical device system engineer, first writing codes for medical devices and now supervising a team making medical devices. He was interested in engineering as a kid, but was torn between electrical and computer when he went to Iowa State before eventually settling on computer engineering after a stint working in California during his college years and when his grandmother was implanted with a medical device, according to Demmer.

While working at Medtronic, Demmer went to night school at the University of Minnesota to earn his master’s degree in business administration.

Thirteen years ago, he moved to Coon Rapids, purchasing the home of grandparents, who had moved to Coon Rapids more than 60 years ago, when his grandmother was planning to sell the home to move into an assisted living facility.

“My dad grew up here and now my kids are growing up here,” Demmer said. “We plan to stay in Minnesota and want to make it the best city it can be. This is an opportunity to give back.”

According to Demmer, he will try to bring his engineering experience the city council. In his job, he is trained to listen to a wide variety of people, evaluate their opinions, collaborate to come up with ideas and the turn those ideas into real solutions.

“I will ask the right questions and make sure I get information from more than one source,” Demmer said.

Demmer has been preparing for his new job by attending council meetings and work sessions, talking with current council members and staff and reading up on the materials that the council members receive, he said.

As a council member, he will focus on not only short-term issues facing the city, but also a long-term vision for Coon Rapids, especially in the area of economic development and Coon Rapids Boulevard, he said.

According to Demmer, he would like to see the council revive a economic development commission to interact with potential businesses.

As the economy and the city emerge from recession, the council has to be patient in the kind of development it wants to attract in the long term, not jump at the first thing that comes along, Demmer said.

“Coon Rapids Boulevard is a work in progress,” he said.

According to Demmer, he would like to see the city improve the way it gets out its information and one way to do that is through the city’s website, which is currently being upgraded.

“There is a lot of good information that is not easy to get to as it could be,” Demmer said.

Demmer and his wife, Stacee, who chairs the council’s Sustainability Commission, have two children, who attend Adams Elementary School. His community involvement has included volunteering at Adams, Habitat for Humanity and youth athletics.

This story was originally published by ABC Newspapers.