Cal Rolfson, City Council Member-Elect District 2

Name:  Cal Rolfson

Age:  75

Have lived in Mount Dora since: 2002

Professional Experience and Background:

I have a bachelor of arts degree from Concordia College in Minnesota and a Juris Doctor from the University of North Dakota.  I was an attorney in North Dakota for over 40 years.  I have practiced government law as a State’s Attorney in Pembina County and municipal law as the city attorney for three cities, as well as serving as a legal advisor to the county commission.  I served in the Attorney General’s office in North Dakota, prosecuting cases there.  I also pioneered the very first court administrative office in North Dakota.  I was also in private law practice for 20 years, dealing with such things as complex civil litigation.

Community Involvement:

Here in Florida, I spent seven years as a board member on the Homeowners’ Association for the Country Club of Mount Dora – four years as its president.  I have served as the president of Advocating for Kids, an organization that serves the 5th District Court of Appeals, by working on the issues experienced by foster children.  My wife Shirley and I have both been Guardians ad Litem, advocating for the needs of children embroiled in the court system. We both volunteer at Lake Cares Food Pantry, and have done that since 2010.

How will your professional and educational experience, or your background, help you to perform the duties of council member, if you are elected?

My professional experience serves me well, as I think it has prepared me to serve the city and the council.  I have an understanding of the complicated issues that come before us, such as dealing with bond issues.  I also can call upon the experience I had as an advocate for children for a number of years.  I served on the Board of Directors for Lutheran Healthcare Systems – which was a great experience – as I served with 15 other board members.  That truly helped me to develop an understanding of the difference between policy-making and management, and the importance of keeping those functions separated.  Further along those lines, I also served as a board member for the for the state of North Dakota’s largest nursing home network for 3-4 years, as well.

Why are you running for a Mount Dora City Council seat?

Aside from significant urgings by others to continue, I have found it enjoyable and have found that I can be of help in policy setting for the city.  My wife and I love Mount Dora. We would never consider leaving and so we have a vested interest in seeing it well managed.  Although I announced my candidacy months in advance and filed well before the required deadline, I essentially became elected when no one filed to run against me.

What 3 issues do you see as the top concerns for the City Council to focus on now, and going forward?

  1. The Wekiva Parkway and Innovation District.  We must keep on track with the Innovation District.  It is the driver for Mount Dora’s future.  Failure to plan effectively around this area will shortchange the city for many years to come.
  2. Transitioning to a new City Manager.  I hope and expect she will succeed in leading.  I hope no one on council interferes with her ability to manage her responsibilities. No individual council member has the skills to carry out the complex task of running the city. We must let her manage and have a little time in the saddle to settle in.  I hope her learning curve is short.
  3. Help to minimize and hasten the end of the upheaval and political dissension the city currently finds itself in.

Much has been said at council meetings about the need for an economic development director/planner in Mount Dora.  What does the term economic development mean to you?

The first word that comes to mind is Wekiva.  Economic development also means downtown and the NECRA (Northeast Community Redevelopment Agency) – and the whole city.  Economic development has many tentacles and all of them should fall under the city manager’s direction.  Of course, she would not be operating autonomously, but under the policy direction of the city council.

What brief message (3 sentences or less) would you like residents to hear about your candidacy as they consider their choices for office in November?

 1.  The city and its citizens ought to be truly proud of and thankful for Mount Dora’s wonderful regional and national reputation and its many deserved recognitions, thanks to the efforts to achieve those distinctions by past cohesive policies and management practices of our city.

2.  The city and its residents deserve city policy setters and managers that are unified and work to maintain that national and regional reputation, which can be the single best driver of meaningful growth for our city.

3.  We are on the verge of significant economic development for Mount Dora through the looming Wekiva / Innovation District, and developing cohesive city policies to help drive that forward can be a significant catalyst to enhance our tax base, protect and maintain our citizen’s home values and produce overall well being for Mount Dora.


Email contact:

Telephone Contact: 352-552-4200


Melissa DeMarco, Editor