I ran for mayor to bring change to our city. I offered a platform of citizen-centric government and fiscal responsibility. In the 2020 election, over one-third of Shorewood voters supported this message!
I continue to believe Shorewood will benefit from a fresh perspective and a citizen-centric approach. City government should avoid adversarial relationships with citizens and neighbors. True leaders know how to listen to understand different perspectives, negotiate win/win solutions and methodically resolve misunderstandings or differences of opinion. Leaders in public office are effective by setting aside their emotions to focus on a purpose that is greater than themselves - serving the citizens. The Shorewood city council would benefit from a collaborative approach employing problem solving, negotiating and leadership skills.
I want Shorewood government to treat all citizens equally, fairly and respectfully. Here is an example where this is not happening in Shorewood.
In 2016, my wife and I and our neighbors bought 40' of shoreline on Lake Minnetonka after it was tax forfeited to the County. After we installed a seasonal dock, the city issued us a citation. We appealed on the basis that the city code only prohibited floating and permanent docks and ours was seasonal. The city council then withdrew the citation and subsequently amended the code to prohibit any dock for empty lots without dwellings. The following year, they issued us a new citation based on the amended code. We appealed and the city charged us with a criminal misdemeanor. The District Court dismissed the case for lack of probable cause; the city appealed to the Appeals Court who unanimously affirmed the District Court's decision.
In a closed door meeting, the city council then decided to file a petition for review with the Minnesota State Supreme Court and oral arguments were held on Monday, September 8, 2020.
As of September 2020 the city has spent over $53,000 on this case (Source: Mayor of Shorewood Scott Zerby quoted in Bring Me The News, September 11, 2020).
In 2015, Shorewood sued Excelsior, Greenwood, Deephaven and Tonka Bay in an aggressive attempt to compel these cities to accept a lower buyout value for the Southshore Community Center (today the Shorewood Community and Event Center) than originally agreed. In its attempt to force the cities to reduce the purchase price by $250,000, the city spent $52,558 on this case petitioning all the way to the Minnesota Supreme Court and lost the case.
“This lawsuit took over 16 months to come to a conclusion, and I am glad it finally is over,” said Greenwood Mayor Deb Kind. “The lawsuit was frustrating on so many levels. A lot of money in attorney fees, and a lot of time could have been saved if Shorewood would have just paid the other cities according to the 1996 agreement instead of initiating a lawsuit.”
Since 2015, the city has spent an average of $140,000 per year on legal costs.
Our city should abandon authoritarian approaches in favor of a collaborative approach to resolving misunderstandings and conflicts with residents and neighboring cities.
I do not want any more Shorewood families to encounter the city's adversarial approach to resolving disputes with citizens. Let's work together to spread awareness to the other two-thirds of Shorewood of the opportunities to improve our city government.