Steve's desk at work reveals how he dove into the details as a reporter. He'll do the same on the Board of Estimate and Taxation.
WHY I'M RUNNING
I'm running for one of two public seats on the Board of Estimate and Taxation. The City Charter authorizes two directly elected members to sit on the Board to serve as a check on the full-time elected officials who hold the board's remaining seats. The Board has two jobs: to set the city property tax limit annually and to authorize city borrowing. The Board is comprised of the mayor, two City Council members, a Park Board representative and two directly elected members. Three present or former board members have endorsed my campaign.
Why me? I’m well-versed in city finances, and I know how to hold public officials accountable. I spent 40 years as a reporter covering government finance at the state, county and city levels. I’ve pored over the city budget from cover to cover, pressing city budget officials to explain their financial policies. Now that I’ve retired, I’m in my fifth year on CLIC, the city’s capital budgeting advisory committee, and have gained a deeper knowledge of the city’s infrastructure needs. I spent 40 years as a reporter holding public officials accountable My reporting background grounded me in how to research, analyze and present my findings. I'll fight for the public interest on the Board in the same way.
The job of Board member means acting as a guardian for property taxpayers, whether they're homeowners who pay directly or renters who pay indirectly through their rents. I believe that city property taxation needs to be guided by two realities: 1) Any property tax increase creates a hardship for low-income people and those who rely on a fixed income; 2) A 163-year-old city needs constant reinvestment in its infrastructure to remain a quality city, as well as investment in its human capital. Those are the parameters that will guide me as a board member. Each year, I will consider these factors before voting on a proposed levy: how many people will see their taxes go up or down and by how much; the purposes of the proposed increase; growth in the tax base; the economic health of the city and its residents; how much the School Board and the Hennepin County Board are asking for their shares of a resident’s tax bill; and what bond-rating agencies are saying about city finances. I'll also work as a Board member toward creating a fairer property tax system for owners of lower-value homes and renters. That means getting those issues on the city's legislative agenda.
Join me in helping to improve the city we love.
Steve was born in St. Paul, mostly grew up in Roseville, and got to Minneapolis as quickly as he could, enrolling at the University of Minnesota in 1969 at age 17.
Since then, Steve has lived continuously in Minneapolis, aside from three years honing his reporting skill at smaller Minnesota newspapers, and two academic years for fellowships held by Steve and his wife, Lynda McDonnell.
They bought their King Field home in 1976, just as Steve was joining Lynda as a reporter for the old Minneapolis Tribune, later the Star Tribune. Steve reported there for 40 years, covering the Legislature and state government, agriculture during the 1980s foreclosure crisis, Hennepin County government, and Minneapolis City Hall, neighborhoods, schools and parks. That experience gave him solid grounding in government finance and local government issues.
Steve and Lynda raised two sons who graduated from Minneapolis public high schools, going on to careers in corporate finance and geopolitical risk analysis. Steve and Lynda have three grandchildren.
Steve’s community activities grew as his Minneapolis roots deepened. When his kids’ soccer teams needed a coach, Steve stepped forward. He eventually ran the youth soccer program at Lyndale Farmstead Park, and coached several King Park teams, plus an adult women’s team. When his parish needed volunteers, Steve stepped in. He eventually chaired the councils of two parishes. Ditto when his sons joined Boy Scouts. He served two terms on the Kingfield Neighborhood Association’s board, participating in early discussions that laid some groundwork for the Seward Co-op Friendship Store years later. He also originated the RiverLake Greenway, a bike-walk corridor that he got constructed in his neighborhood, and worked to get extended from Lake Harriet to the Mississippi River.
His work as a journalist kept Steve from political activism until he retired in 2016. He’s knocked on doors for three DFL-endorsed local candidates, is vice chair of his precinct, and is active in Senate District 62. He’s been a dedicated volunteer for Mapping Prejudice, a groundbreaking project that mapped the history of racially restrictive deed covenants in Minneapolis and Hennepin County. He spent hundreds of hours cataloging more than 9,000 deeds, and even got a cameo appearance in the TPT documentary “Jim Crow of the North,” which featured the project.
Currently, he’s on Great Northern Greenway task force, working to connect north and northeast Minneapolis with a continuous recreational trail stretching across the city’s northern half, including a river crossing.
Steve has always been something of an infrastructure geek, reporting about the city’s streets, parks, sewers and water system. He’s been down in deep storm water tunnels, and up in firefighter training towers. That interest morphed into his appointment to the city’s capital budgeting task force, known as CLIC, where he has served for two terms. Each year, he and colleagues dive into and rank more than 100 capital proposals from city departments, serving as an advisory body to the mayor and City Council.
In his spare time, Steve is a passionate vegetable and flower gardener. He ran about 700 miles in 2020 and biked more than 2,200. He and Lynda own 40 acres in Wisconsin, where he has planted hundreds of trees and shrubs, taps huge maples, and maintains a section of the statewide Ice Age Trail.