Mike Opat, District 1

I'm proud to represent the people of District 1 in Hennepin County. In addition to ensuring the efficient delivery of county services and the effective expenditure of taxpayers’ dollars, my priorities include:

  • Building public infrastructure for county residents and businesses, including the Blue Line Extension (Bottineau LRT).
  • Exercising stewardship of unique county places like Victory Memorial Drive, the memorial to Hennepin’s 568 fallen World War I troops.
  • Smart public works projects – especially roads, bridges, bike paths and impaired lake cleanup within the county’s inner-ring suburbs.
  • Improving criminal justice, redeveloping blighted areas, and increasing neighborhood livability.
  • Practical and effective social safety-net programs for vulnerable populations in Hennepin County.
  • Strengthening and nurturing our award-winning and nationally ranked library system.
  • Effective management of a world-class teaching hospital and Level 1 Trauma Center: Hennepin County Medical Center and Hennepin Healthcare System.
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Priorities and initiatives

Blue Line Extension (Bottineau Light Rail Transit)

Extending the Blue Line and improving transit service in Hennepin County’s heavily traveled northwestern suburbs will help reduce traffic congestion, fuel consumption and pollution, spur development, shorten commuting time, and provide people with more access to jobs around the region. Commissioner Opat is chair of the BLRT Community Works Steering Committee, a combination of public and private agencies and leaders formed to mobilize resources, align public policies and focus on new development opportunities within the Bottineau Boulevard corridor.

Read about the Blue Line Extension (Bottineau LRT)

Preventing teen pregnancy

Commissioner Opat launched a pilot project toward teen pregnancy prevention efforts, for which he was awarded the Minnesota Organization on Adolescent Pregnancy, Prevention and Parenting (MOAPPP)'s Policymaker of the Year award in 2003. Since 2007, the Better Together Hennepin program has helped to cut the teen pregnancy rate by more than 50 percent in Hennepin County.

Read more about efforts to prevent teen pregnancy in Hennepin County

Victory Memorial Drive

Victory Memorial Drive, North Minneapolis’ unique commemoration of the 568 men and women of Hennepin County who served and died in World War I, is getting new investments to maintain its honor and distinction for future generations. In 2003, the Legislature created the Victory Memorial Drive Task Force, co-chaired by Commissioner Opat and Commissioner Stenglein. Already, the Task Force has extended the green space and led the restoration of the historic street grid. Plans for 2010 include building landmark gateway monuments at Lowry Avenue North and Humboldt Avenue North, redesigning and expanding the flagpole plaza, and adding lighting for the streets and parkway. Soon, when motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists approach Victory Memorial Drive, they will know exactly what they are entering – a living tribute to the soldiers and nurses of Hennepin County who made the ultimate sacrifice in World War I.

We'll post updates on the District 1 homepage as progress on this great project continues.

Youth Sports Program and extended library hours

Excess sales tax proceeds from the Twins ballpark have allowed us to keep libraries open and expand athletic opportunities for youth across the entire County.

Since 2009, Hennepin County has granted $19.6 million for 122 youth sports facility projects and 221 small equipment projects. Projects like Lee Park in Robbinsdale, the fields at Northwoods Park in Brooklyn Park, and the New Hope Ice Arena would not have come to fruition without the grant assistance. Also due to this funding, 15 library locations are open 100 additional hours each week.

The ballpark sales tax (15 cents of every dollar, or about 3 cents of every $20 taxable purchase) also is coming in more quickly than anticipated, and we are prepaying more than $11 million of the debt each year. This has translated into more than $120 million in interest savings. The ballpark is projected to be paid off more 10 years ahead of schedule. We can make these prepayments in addition to the $4 million set aside each year for library hours and the Hennepin Youth Sports Grants.

Learn more about this program.

Leadership positions

Hennepin County

  • Audit Committee, member
  • Child Well-being Advisory Committee, chair
  • Hennepin County Board, vice chair
  • Hennepin County Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HCHRA), member
  • Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority (HCRRA), member
  • Hennepin Health, member
  • Intergovernmental Relations Committee, vice chair
  • IT Advisory Committee, member
  • Joint Committee on Community Corrections, member
  • Public Works Committee, chair

Other positions

  • American Council of Young Political Leaders, member
  • Arc Greater Twin Cities, honorary board member
  • Association of Minnesota Counties (AMC) voting delegate
  • AMC Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, member
  • Blue Line Extension Community Works Steering Committee, chair
  • Brooklyn Bridge Alliance for Youth Board, member
  • German Marshall Fund of the United States, member
  • Health Insurance, Benefits and Employee Wellness Advisory Board, member
  • Penn Avenue Community Works Steering Committee, co-chair
  • Light Rail Transit Executive Change Control Board, member
  • St. Anthony Falls Heritage Board, member


Mike Opat is a Hennepin County Commissioner, representing District 1, which includes the cities of Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Crystal, New Hope, Osseo and Robbinsdale. He represents a district that includes more than 160,000 residents in six suburban cities.

Hennepin is Minnesota’s largest county and home to 1.1 million residents with an annual budget of $1.7 billion. The County Board governs the delivery of county services, sets Hennepin’s budget and property tax levy, establishes ordinances, approves contracts and appoints key staff members.

Commissioner Opat was elected to the Board for the first time in 1992 and has served from 1993 to the present. He served as Board chair for nine years (2001 to 2003; and 2009 to 2014).

Among his key accomplishments, Commissioner Opat led the effort to finance and build Target Field, home to the Minnesota Twins baseball club. Target Field opened in April 2010 and was named the nation’s Number 1 sports venue by both ESPN Magazine and Sports Business Journal. He helped to create the Hennepin Youth Sports Grants program. The program has awarded more than $19.6 million in excess funds from construction of Target Field to build playgrounds and sports facilities, to provide needed athletic equipment, and also to extend access to 15 county libraries by 100 hours a week.

Commissioner Opat has also been involved in many transportation improvement projects. He currently chairs the county’s Public Works Energy and Environment committee and serves on the regional Counties Transit Improvement Board (CTIB). He is also leading the county's effort to build the Blue Line Extension (Bottineau Light Rail) project – the $1.49 billion project will connect five cities from downtown Minneapolis to the City of Brooklyn Park.

Formerly a supervisor at the Hennepin Adult Corrections Facility and chosen as Minnesota Correctional Officer of the Year, Commissioner Opat has been active in criminal justice efforts.

His other efforts include partnering with local school districts to launch a teen pregnancy-prevention effort and improve outcomes for underprivileged young women.

Commissioner Opat has a Master of Public Policy degree from the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government and a Bachelor of Science degree in Business from the University of Minnesota. He serves on the Board of Directors for Sun Country Airlines and the Alerus Financial Regional Advisory Board.

Long involved in youth sports, Commissioner Opat coaches traveling basketball and baseball. He lives in Robbinsdale with his wife Kim, sons Luke and T.J., and daughter Tess.

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