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Election 2012: Kristine Sundberg, Shorewood City Council

This week, Lake Minnetonka Patch will be featuring candidates seeking a variety of elected offices. Check back soon for your comprehensive voter guide, coming soon!

Kristine Sundberg is running against Mark Sylvester and Dick Woodruff for a seat on the Shorewood City Council. (vote for two Nov. 6)

Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Share something most people don’t know about you.

I was brought up spending my summers on a small central Minnesota lake where my dad taught his daughters and son how to fish, my mom gave us swimming instructions to "drown proof" us and together with my cousins we learned to water ski using some of the worst equipment on the lake.

Those were values that I have carried throughout my adult life. It taught me to figure out how to fix that ski rope since we couldn’t afford a new one after getting that brand new 30 horse power motor. It also taught me how to work with my cousins to plan how we could make the first pyramid on skis. 

As you see, I learned to be a team player who loves playing hard and working hard. Respect and collaboration has been a success principle of mine that has allowed the development of many cooperative relationships that have brought significant accomplishments. I respect all opinions and listen carefully will to better understand an issue and develop cost effective solutions.

What sorts of thoughts come to mind when you think of Lake Minnetonka?

Lake Minnetonka is a unique gem that few major metropolitan areas enjoy. But saving this gem for the future generations will take stewardship to protect and improve the water quality, recreational attributes and the economic value. This lake has many such stewards but they are often fragmented, losing the power of collaboration and combining resources to achieve a common goal.

This will require local leaders to build collaborative relationships with the various watershed districts, state agencies such as the DNR and EPA, federal water quality initiatives and departments, and local water quality organizations. Through this collaboration we can better harness our resources to clean up the pollutants, eliminate the aquatic invasive species and prevent further harm to the lake.

Are invasive species a local, state or federal issue? Or is it a mix? Describe your views.

It is foremost a local issue because we are the ones living with the invasion of buckthorn, zebra mussels, Curley pond leaf and list goes on. But the buck(thorn) doesn’t stop there, it is also a state, national and international issue. These many invasive species are transported via cargo ships, planes, recreational boating, commercial operations, etc. They make their way through our ecosystem at extraordinarily fast rates. Prevention is important but we are long past this as an option.

Now we need to let science help eliminate the destruction of our lakes, marshes, forests, parks and other natural areas.

What is the most common issue people talk with you about while campaigning? What do you tell them?

People fear a loss of the Shorewood that attracted them here. They want to continue enjoying for many generations to come the rural feel, neighborly comfort and natural beauty of a diverse environment. I share this concern and will work diligently to preserve all these qualities yet keep our community vibrant and healthy.

We can do many things to help all our residents enjoy Shorewood even more with safe biking and walking access to our trails, schools, parks, lakes and community areas.

How do you feel about the current property tax levels? What about school district taxes (understanding the city council has no control over them)?

We need to keep taxes at current levels for as long as possible while still making infrastructure improvements that are on the horizon. This can readily be achieved by engaging our sister communities in discussion to further combine services. The police and fire protection combining has worked well and is a great example of how communities can collaborate to the benefit of all.

There are several public works areas that are good targets to evaluate. Eliminating the excess cost of property, equipment, etc through a combining of services not only reduces the tax burden but will improve services for every community.

We don’t have "authority" over the school district, but we do have a responsibility to work cooperatively with the school district and advocate helping each other address our respective challenges. Again, this means being true leaders who reach out to our other community partners.

If the funding were available, what projects—either shovel ready or on the drawing board—would you advocate dedicating it to?

There are two priorities I would pursue immediately.

1) Completing the evaluation of improving sidewalk access to trails and parks needs to be given a high priority. I cringe when I see a young family, mature adults and children trying to walk or bike on busy streets. Let’s get this plan done and implemented before we have a tragedy such as Chanhassen had last summer when a child was killed on 101. As a city council member one of our highest responsibilities is protecting the safety and health of our citizens.

2) Reach out to our neighboring communities and begin active dialogue on shared service opportunities and collaboration on control and prevention of invasive species in our lakes and woodlands. This is a complex and involves many community and organizational egos. Let’s find common ground and make life better for all of us.

Are you satisfied with the public safety services being provided to city residents?

Our shared services are a template that needs to be further replicated. The Shorewood infrastructure is showing it’s age and beginning to be a safety concern. I think that I have covered this issue in previous questions.

How would you encourage the average citizen to become more engaged in local government?

If elected I would like to begin a program for our youth to get involved in local government giving them exposure to how local government operates, what does the park board do, how do citizens work with city council to get their voices heard, etc. This could give them credit on school civics and other classes.

Additionally, I would like to see the city council participate in some of the local community events with an informational booth and participation of the city council members. These events attract many citizens and could engage more understanding and interest in their community.

Open forum. Why should voters cast their ballot for you this November?

Shorewood is an exceptional community, and I want to keep it that way. That doesn’t mean just saying ‘no’ to any new idea or proposal. We need to look forward while we value our past. This means that we need to balance the needs of our whole community, keep taxes in check and work with our neighboring communities to solve common challenges. 

I am a proven leader who has been appointed to state environmental boards, watershed district boards and other regulatory agencies. My master’s degree in Environmental Science provides a foundation of understanding on a wide range of water, air and other ecological issues.

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