Shoreview mayor likely set for 12th term

As Shoreview Mayor Sandy Martin walked the connected halls of the Shoreview Commons on a September afternoon, making her way between City Hall and the community center, those who saw her turn a corner would belt out a cheery greeting.

Martin would respond with a “Hi” and the person’s name, or, if they were too far away for her to see, a “Who’s that?” In any case, each person hugged Martin or shook her hand and talked about the weather — it was rainy — or said their own “Hi” and moved along.

Martin has been Mayor of Shoreview since 1996. She’s running for re-election this fall, and while there will be another name on the ballot below her’s, she’s essentially without a challenger. Richard Mester filed to run for mayor before the deadline in August. 

Though his name will still appear on the ballot, he’s dropped out of the race, leaving Martin unopposed for another term.

Mester said in an interview he received some bad information and was under the impression Martin was not running this time around. “If she’s still running, I would rather supporter her,” he said, adding he will likely run once Martin has decided to step away from city government. 

 

‘The city can do better’

Martin, 76, was born and raised in Shoreview. She left to study humanities at the University of Minnesota, then returned promptly after graduation to build a house next to the one she grew up in. 

Come the late 1960s and 70s, the sleepy lake-spotted town was rapidly growing. Martin was now a mother raising four children. She said that one day she needed to stop at City Hall for something or other — at the time City Hall was a little farmhouse — and there was a meeting going on inside, and since the building was so small, Martin had to wait outside in the rain. 

While in the rain, she said she thought to herself, “The city can do better.” Soon, she and city administrators were gathering resident support for a new City Hall.

With the completion of that project, people in the city asked her to get more involved. She joined the Planning Commission.

At the time, the city was exploding with expansion and development opportunity. “Sometimes, we would be up until two in the morning,” Martin said of the commission’s meetings.

She said she and her commission colleagues were laying out a painstakingly thought-out plan for the near and distant future of the city. She said the care of the Planning Commissions and city councils of the 60s through the early 1980s are the reason Shoreview was able to strike its balance of encouraging growth but also maintaining plenty of green space like parks and trails. 

 

‘Everybody retires’

Later, Martin was again pushed by residents and peers to be involved in city matters, this time to fill a vacancy on the city council. She applied and was appointed in 1989. 

The pictures of the various Shoreview city councils from throughout the years hanging in the entrance area at City Hall show the churn of city officials — some faces remain the same in some of the photos, but, for the most part, the groups change with a different mayor for each council. 

Then there are the pictures from the late 1990s. There’s the newly elected Mayor Martin, who had just won a hotly contested race she said she barely pulled off, and City Manager Terry Schwerm. 

From then on, those two faces in those two spots — mayor and city manager — have stayed the same. Martin said that’s been the city’s staffing style. “Everybody retires.” 

Though she said it’s a wonderful thing that the city offers stability for careers, it does present Martin a problem — “Everybody is retiring.”

Martin said she’s excited to soon help the city transition from longtime staff members and officials to new faces, including in the mayor’s seat.

In her time as mayor, she said her highlights have included hiring good people she could trust for decades, integrating the city with trails and parks, and the Shoreview Commons and Community Center expansion. 

As for her future as mayor, Martin said her plan is to stick around to see the expansion project through. 

Assuming she wins this fall, Martin will begin her 12th term as mayor this January.

 

- Solomon Gustavo can be reached at sgustavo@lillienews.com or 651-748-7815.

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