The city council candidate who campaigned against the pace and scale of redevelopment in Edina will soon bring his message to the dais at City Hall.
Ron Anderson was the top performer in the Nov. 6 Edina City Council election, taking 25.4 percent of the vote. Just behind Anderson at the polls was incumbent Kevin Staunton, who will keep his seat on the council after receiving 24.7 percent of the vote.
The other incumbent, Bob Stewart, will relinquish his seat, having come in third among the six candidates, receiving 17.4 percent of the vote.
Prior to the election, Anderson said the vote would serve as a sort of referendum on the redevelopment climate in Edina and the proposed Highway 100 infrastructure project known as Grandview green or the Lid.
“I think that people are saying, ‘We want to take a deep breath here. We want to reconsider,’” Anderson said. “That’s what I get out of this.”
He didn’t go into the election taking that support for granted, but knew he had a shot at making it onto the council.
“I thought I had a puncher’s chance,” he said.
Although the defeated incumbent, Stewart, will be leaving the council when the new year arrives, he said he hasn’t lost faith in the direction of the city.
“I’m confident that Edina’s still in the hands of some really good leadership,” he said. “I’m certain that we’ll continue to have a great city.”
Candidate Janet Kitui finished just behind Stewart on the ballot, garnering 17 percent of the vote. Stan Davis finished fifth in the voting, with 9.4 percent, while Ray Meifert came in sixth, with 5.6 percent of the vote.
Emerging from that field of challengers, Anderson declared, “All I’m trying to be is a moderate voice.”
Whether or not the Lid – a proposal to create about 8 new acres of civic space and developable land by covering Highway 100 in the Grandview District – becomes a reality, Anderson sees the potential project as emblematic of the larger development climate in Edina, where controversy centers on the population density brought by new apartments being proposed and constructed.
“I’m more concerned about the general direction in terms of the level of development that we’re entertaining and the level of development that we’re approving,” Anderson said, questioning whether the city’s 5 percent apartment vacancy rate can support all the new housing units being proposed and constructed.
The incoming council member wants the city to pause and study the housing market, but the bigger concern of opponents to redevelopment projects such as the Lid and large apartment complexes has been the effect on the surrounding neighborhoods, including and quality-of-life aspects such as automobile traffic.
“I’m going to be part of that conversation,” Anderson said. “That has been my goal, and I’m excited.”
As evidenced by the election results, his message resonated, which the 70-year-old noticed while campaigning.
“It’s always so surprising with people that you really don’t have a relationship with coming forward and saying things like, ‘You know, I connected with what you had to say,’” Anderson said.
Politically, Anderson considers himself an independent. After being involved in real estate for 40 years, this was his first time running for public office.
As Anderson takes his seat no the council, Stewart will be departing after one four-year term.
That experience of the past four years “just makes me continue to love Edina even more,” Stewart declared.
Lately during that service, Stewart, like the rest of the council, expressed openness to exploring the concept of the Lid as a far-off project, but didn’t call himself an advocate of the proposal. He is a member of the Edina Housing and Redevelopment Authority that made a point to call the Lid a long-term possibility as opposed to a near-term project, while Anderson contended the project was more imminent than the city was letting on.
Still a possibility, he noted, is the passage of a bill at the State Legislature that would allow tax increment financing for the project that would help it become a reality. Anderson also noted that a memorandum of understanding regarding the Lid – between the city of Edina and the Minnesota Department of Transportation – is still in effect.
The day after being elected to the city council, Anderson savored the fact that so many Edina voters shared his views on redevelopment.
“The fact that people agree with that, and agree with it on the level that they have – that’s humbling and exciting and reassuring,” he said.
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