There are two candidates for the Minnetonka mayor position this year. This feature looks at incumbent Terry Schneider.
What previous political experience do you have (including other governmental positions you’ve held, whether elected, appointed or volunteer)?
I have been very involved in city, regional, state and national activities since 1975. The full list of committees, boards and commissions and volunteer activities I have served on over that period of time are too numerous to list, but the following list includes some of the more notable areas of involvement:
- Minnetonka Mayor, 2009 to Present
- At-Large Minnetonka City Council member, 1992-2008
- Member Regional Council of Mayors 2009 to Present
- Member of Southwest Light Rail Management Committee, 2012 to Present
- Member of Southwest Light Rail Community Works Committee, 2010 to Present
- Board member of Homes Within Reach (affordable housing land trust), 2000 to Present
- MetroGIS Policy Board, 1999-Present (Chair 2009-Present)
- Sensible Land Use Coalition board member, 1998-Present
- National League of Cities – Economic and Community Development Policy Committee, 1994 to Present
- State of Minnesota Headwaters Council (Legacy Funds Policy Committee), 2011.
- MnGeo Statewide Advisory Council, 2009-2012
- Member Metropolitan Council Land Use Advisory Council, 2008-2009.
- Board Member League of Minnesota Cities, 2000-2003
- Board Member Metro Cities ,1996-2001 (President in 2000)
- Member Metropolitan Transportation Advisory Board, 1994-2000
- Member Metropolitan Parks & Open Space Board, 1990-1994
- Minnetonka Planning Commission, 1981-1989 (Chair 1985-1989)
- Vice-Chair Minnetonka Zoning Ordinance Committee, 1985-1986
- Minnetonka Park Board, 1977-1981 (Chair 1979-1981)
- Chair Jaycee Big Willow Park project, 1975-1980
What other relevant experience do you have?
My experience of serving on the Minnetonka City Council for over 20 years plus serving on the Planning Commission and the Park Board for a total of 12 additional years, combined with the opportunity to lead each of the above bodies reflects the experience needed to continue leading Minnetonka as Mayor for the next four years.
What is your occupation?
I have been sole owner since 1981 of a small business providing land use planning and real estate development consulting services for both commercial and residential projects in the Twin Cities area.
Where did you go to school?
I received a Bachelor of Architecture Degree and a Masters of Business Administration Degree from the University of Nebraska.
How old are you? In October, I will turn 69.
Do you have a spouse, children or any other family members you’d like to tell voters about?
I have been married to my wife Beth for 50 years. We have five adult children (Tori, Tim, Tammy, Tara & Trevor) that all live in the in the western metro area. We also have seven grandchildren (Cameron, Erik, Spencer, Alex, Erin, Dylan & Kate).
What are your campaign goals?
To use the outreach involved in campaigning to connect with voters who do not normally voice their opinions. Other than the annual Minnetonka Community Survey and hearing from people I meet as I am about in the community, most feedback the council receives relates to land use changes that can sometimes be controversial. When I knock on doors or meet people through other campaigning efforts I am able to get a broader, more diverse and more in-depth perspective on what people are thinking, what their concerns are, and what things they would like the council to continue doing.
What issues are you most focused on?
Our changing community — One comment that I continually hear from residents is “I love Minnetonka, just keep it the way it is.” What residents may forget is that Minnetonka has been continually changing from the time it became a city in 1958, and will continue to change. The most effective approach is not to try to stop change, but to guide that change to preserve the aspects of Minnetonka that make it a great place to live and meets the changing needs of our residents.
One of the most significant factors currently effecting the direction of change is our aging population. A significant number of our residents either can’t or would like to give up maintaining their large lot and home, but very much want to stay in the community. This need will require thoughtful discussion at the community, city staff, Boards & Commissions and Council level to determine how best to meet this need for more diverse types of housing choices.
Protecting and enhancing our natural resources — The two most frequent reasons residents give for why they moved to Minnetonka is our good school system and great natural environment. The city has a long history of partnering with our school districts, but and the city has always placed a high priority on protecting and enhancing our natural environment. The city adopted wetlands protection ordinances before the state passed the Wetlands Protection Act. The city has weathered a number of environmental stresses on our trees, and our current threat is from Emerald Ash Borer. The council and city staff is formulating a long term strategy to minimize the impact on our ash trees.
Financial stewardship — Over the years the city has provided great value for the property taxes we levy. The city has consistently practiced thinking long term and been good stewards of the city’s resources. A good example is with the street improvement fund that the council built-up over a number of years that enabled us to refurbish or reconstruct our city streets without assessing any residential properties. I will continue to support wise use of our financial resources.
Revitalize Ridgedale area — One of the medium to long term goals of the city council is to facilitate a re-vitalization of the Ridgedale area in concert with Ridgedale businesses including General Growth the part owner and manager of the Ridgedale Mall. While Ridgedale has been quite successful, it lacks the vibrancy and walkability that many similar areas around the country have achieved. With the opening of a new Nordstrom’s in 2015, and a significant investment by Macy’s in an expanded and remodeled store we are working hard to introduce vibrancy and walkability into the area. The long term goal is to have enough amenities and an increased sense of community and livability to attract a significant amount of additional multi-family housing in the Ridgedale area.
Southwest Light Rail — The city has been a longtime supporter and partner in the effort to extend the Green Line (formerly Central Corridor Line) that currently goes from St. Paul to the Target Stadium through Minneapolis, St. Louis Park, Hopkins, Minnetonka and terminating in Eden Prairie. While there are a number of complex issues that need to be resolved including reducing the project’s costs, I am optimistic that the line will become a reality. It will provide the employers along the line with a significant employee base and provide increased travel choices for our citizens. We hope that the implementation of the Green Line will allow us to have a more flexible local circulator bus that will provide the broader community greater access to the Green Line.
Partner with cities, counties and state to make Twin Cities Region stronger — Minnetonka has always been a strong regional partner and I see the city continuing to play a role in advancing the health, vitality and competitiveness of the Twin Cities region. The regions ability to attract the talented employees our companies need to thrive in the future will be enhanced by local governments and business working together to achieve the true livability potential of the region. I will continue my involvement in regional organizations and efforts to make Minnetonka and the region the best place in the US to live and work.
Why should voters choose you?
I believe my 4 years on the Park Board, 8 years on the Planning Commission, and 21 years on the City Council, including five years as Mayor has positioned me as the best person to serve for the next four years. I would appreciate the support of the citizens of Minnetonka for my re-election to the City Council.