Mary Sherry (incumbent) – Burnsville City Council primary candidate
Occupation: Burnsville City Council Member; retired business owner
Education: B.A., Dominican University, River Forest, Ill.; M.B.A., University of St. Thomas, St. Paul
Previous elected, appointed or volunteer positions: City Council member (elected in 2008); Burnsville Planning Commission 1999-2005; Mary, Mother of the Church Finance and Personnel Council (past member).
1. Why should people vote for you?
When I joined the City Council, the tone changed from combative to collaborative. While council members and citizens have differing views and wants for the city, it is important to seek common ground and find a common good. This means listening to all and respecting others’ opinions while keeping focused on the facts. Sometimes, when considering another’s point of view, I have even changed my mind! I do not feel I own all the good ideas for this community, and I am willing to listen and encourage others to offer theirs.
2. What are the key issues facing the city? How should the city address them?
Burnsville is approaching a Golden Moment in economic development. The improvements underway for the intersection of Highway 13 and County Road 5 will dramatically change the appearance of the northwest quadrant and make the area more attractive for investment. Development here will take decades and will call for a patient balancing of property owners’ rights and a development vision. As this unfolds, it will be important to permit some interim uses of the land in this area to allow property owners to get a return on their investments with a higher end use in sight.
While this area is exciting and holds great opportunity, we must take care to retain our existing businesses and encourage their growth and expansion.
3. What cost-cutting measures to city spending would you support?
In 2009, I was the swing voter who decided the budget (levy) increase should be zero. Staff responded by finding new ways to deliver services more economically. This mindset has continued, and despite some modest increases in the past few years, staff has become more efficient and uses technology in creative and comprehensive ways. I see little fat in city operations, but I think it is council’s job to encourage staff to find fat. I will further encourage partnering wherever we can with other communities and the county to deliver services — another thing Burnsville’s city staff does admirably.
4. Assess the work of the current mayor and council. What is your leadership style?
I like to get the facts before reaching a decision. I am known for doing my homework — and there is a lot of that required of our council members. Armed with facts, I aim to reach consensus.
Overall, I think this past council has done a pretty good job. Losing a long-time and highly esteemed council member, Charlie Crichton, was difficult. But Charlie’s legacy of watching the bottom line continues to be handled with care.