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Mayor Dowse: 'We want this place to work for everybody'

Mayor Sean Dowse will start his tenure by implementing Red Wing 2040, a two-year visions process he says will shape the city's Comprehensive Plan. (photo by James Clinton)

In 1989, Sean Dowse moved downriver from Minneapolis to lead the Sheldon Theatre. Now in 2017, he looks forward to leading the city that has become his home.

"To me, it's a natural transition. The Sheldon has a foot in both the public and private worlds, so I'm comfortable working with a variety of interests towards a common goal," Red Wing's new mayor said.

Dowse explained how his background in the arts has prepared him for his new role, and he expressed optimism for Red Wing's future.

"I think it's important that folks from the arts get into politics. In your life, you're not going to bump into everything that's happening in the world. Artists can bring you insights into what's happening in the world through stories," Dowse said.

"Our town's rugged beauty is second to none across the United States. Downtown is doing well, thanks to the efforts of Downtown Main Street and our great local businesses. We have a number of talented artists in town, as well as major cultural institutions like the Anderson Center. Red Wing has a lot to boast about."

Still, the major knows there is a lot of work to do. He named housing, infrastructure and executing a successful comprehensive planning process as the top three goals of his four-year term.

While Dowse hopes the state Legislature passes a bonding bill to ensure continued infrastructure investment in Red Wing, his other priorities require local solutions.

"Housing is not functioning on many levels." Dowse said. "Our local businesses have difficulty retaining a quality workforce due in part to housing shortages and young people struggle to find affordable places to live."

Dowse pointed to the comprehensive planning process, titled Red Wing 2040, as a good first step in addressing the housing issue.

Red Wing 2040 is a two-year effort that asks Red Wing residents to help city staff in "determining the actual issues in town and to come up with ideas and solutions that we can work on together," according to Dowse. Housing will be one of the main issues addressed.

Beyond housing, Dowse hopes the process will "help the entire community figure out what our goals are, what we want to be, and how we can get there."

The mayor also named building closer relations with the Prairie Island Indian Community as a priority.

"Prairie Island is a sovereign nation within our borders. They were here before we were. A relationship of mutual respect and mutual agreement on the outcomes of that relationship is hugely important to both communities," he said.

By the end of his first term Dowse hopes, by completing Red Wing 2040, to have a blueprint on how to move forward as a community.

"We all want this place to work for everybody. We want the city to be an effective support for a good life for all our citizens. Everybody has a point of view that needs to be listened to."

Dowse was sworn in Jan. 3. His term expires January 2021. He encourages residents to reach out with questions, comments, or concerns. He can be reached by phone at 651-388-5935 or by email at