Olmsted County District 1 Candidate


By Randy Petersen - Rochester Post Bulletin June 20, 2022 04:10 PM ROCHESTER — Two candidates will be on the Nov. 8 ballot for the next Olmsted County Commissioner in District 1. Each candidate was sent a short questionnaire seeking background information and their reason for seeking the seat. Here’s what they provided:

Name: Laurel Podulke-Smith Age: 48


Occupation: Educator, Health and Wellness Professional, Cottage Food Entrepreneur.


Education: John Marshall High School; bachelor’s degree in theater arts, University of Minnesota Twin Cities; master’s degree in organizational leadership, Saint Mary’s University.


Have you held elected office? No.


Have you served on local government boards or commissions?

Olmsted County Human Services Advisory Board.


Current Community involvement:

  • Rochester Area Foundation, First Homes board member.

  • Kutzky Park Neighborhood Association, board member.

  • Rochester Civic Theater, executive board member.

  • Arts Trust of Minnesota, board member.

  • Catholic Charities of Southern Minnesota, volunteer.

  • Refugee Family Resettlement, volunteer.

  • Hawthorne Helps, volunteer.

  • A Litter Bit Better, volunteer.

  • Rochester Public Library, volunteer.

  • Church volunteer and youth mentor.


What are your top three campaign issues:

  • Affordable housing.

  • Public safety.

  • Ensuring strong social services.


What makes you the most qualified candidate for this position? During my lifetime I have seen Rochester transform from a small city to a vibrant center for education, innovation and community life. My background in education, healthcare, small business and organizational leadership prepares me to serve our community through skilled communication, consensus building and total dedication to the success of Olmsted County. What will be your top goal if elected? My top goal when elected is addressing the affordable housing shortage in Olmsted County. Affordable housing is urgently needed, particularly low income, workforce, and senior housing. The solution requires coordination from city and county leadership, builders, non-profits, and the greater community to prioritize affordable housing for all Olmsted County residents.