September 8, 2015 | noon
By Rachel Wilson '15
During his senior year at Bethel, Blake Huffman ’86 began working at a bank. From there he launched a career in banking, added politics to the mix, and in the last few years began an affordable housing initiative. Huffman credits Bethel with instilling in him a world-changer mindset. Because of that, his goals for the future revolve less around business success and more around serving those around him.
After studying speech communications and business at Bethel, Huffman started a career in banking, and four years later was named a vice president at US Bank. Huffman transitioned to Wells Fargo in 2001, where he has held roles in finance and strategic development, and currently holds the position of vice president.
However, among Huffman’s titles is not just banker, but politician as well. At age 31, Huffman began his 16-year stint as a Shoreview City Councilman. He then faced off against a 16-year incumbent for Ramsey County Commissioner and came out on top. “I felt my unique skillset of business, civic, and non-profit leadership would allow me to be a quality candidate,” Huffman says. Currently a Ramsey County Commissioner, Huffman works alongside six other commissioners to serve the second largest county in Minnesota, which encompasses roughly 10% of the state’s population.
Each of the commissioners is responsible for a district within Ramsey County. Huffman’s district entails suburbs including Bethel’s home, Arden Hills, as well as Shoreview, Mounds View, North Oaks, Vadnais Heights, Gem Lake, and White Bear Township. Huffman and the other county commissioners establish and guide public policy for the county in addition to managing a $700 million budget.
While navigating Christ-centered values in the murky waters of politics can be a challenge, Huffman makes an effort to incorporate his belief system into his political work. “I have discovered that honestly looking for solutions, and not simply following a specific ideology, has served me very well in the creation of policies that work,” Huffman explains.
A Republican, Huffman works alongside commissioners who are all endorsed Democrats, which many would presume to be a cause for collision. Huffman instead embraces the diverse group. “The most enjoyable part about my role as a commissioner is not worrying about party politics and simply finding solutions that work,” he says.Honing in on his business and political skills, Huffman began the Shoreview Area Housing Initiative (SAHI) in 2008. According to Huffman, SAHI develops affordable housing for low-income families, many of whom are homeless, survivors of domestic violence, or military veterans with disabilities. “SAIH has taught me that world changing comes from helping those in need,” he says.