Biography

Name: Mike Happe

Address: 16385 Ringer Road, Minnetonka

Age: 54

Family: Minnetonka resident for 15 years. Married to Sarah Happe for 31 years, 3 kids who went through Wayzata/Plymouth Schools

Employment: Chief Marketing Officer, SFM Mutual

Education: BA and MBA, University of St. Thomas

Community involvement: Minnetonka Citizens Academy graduate, Minnetonka Economic Development Advisory Commission (8 years), Minnesota Homeownership Center (board member), Menttium 100 (mentor)

Previous experience: First elected to the Minnetonka City Council in April, 2018

Contact info: mhappe11@msn.com, 952.607.8559

Q&A

Why do you want to be on the Minnetonka City Council?

I care about Minnetonka and I am running for office in the spirit of community service. I want to help ensure we continue to provide great service, safe neighborhoods, and protect our natural resources for current and future generations to come.

What is your view of the state of the city of Minnetonka and the City Council?

Minnetonka is among just 6% of cities in the United States that have AAA-rated bonding ability, so it’s clearly run well from a financial standpoint. Additionally, Minnetonka was recently recognized by the League of Minnesota Cities for our efforts on sustainability and our quality of life, by being awarded Step 4 (out of 5) in the Minnesota Greenstep Cities program. I am relatively new to the City Council, but I think our city is working pretty well for our citizens!

What would be your top priorities as a City Council member?

Preserving and maintaining our parks and trails, supporting future growth while maintaining the character of our neighborhoods, positive support for our first responders and balanced budgets with responsible spending. I would really like to find a way to make housing more affordable, especially for Minnetonka police and firefighters – most can’t afford to live in our city!

What is the biggest issue facing the city right now?

Resolving the financial and construction issues around the largest bond offering Minnetonka has ever authorized. We’re on the verge of spending $30 million for a renovated and expanded police and fire facility next to city hall. It’s a lot of money, but the investment in our safety is really needed.

Does the city of Minnetonka have a problem with diversity and if so how should that be addressed?

As the world, and our city, grow more diverse on multiple different levels, I know of no one who does not want to welcome all who want to work and live in our city. We know that the number of residents in Minnetonka will be growing significantly, and with that growth, our city will clearly become more diverse.

The starting point is a public commitment from our civic leaders that we want to be a welcoming community. Check that box! But this commitment is ongoing and we’ll focus on education and communication on the critical issues moving forward. Minnetonka started a Diversity and Inclusion Committee in 2017, and in 2018 the City joined the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE) to work on policies and processes focused on improving racial equity and opportunities for all.

If there is more we can and should be doing to demonstrate our commitment to being a welcoming city, I’d sure like to listen to more ideas. Residents who have any suggestions or want to talk further about this, can contact me at mhappe11@msn.com

What should the city and the City Council do to address affordable housing needs?

First, I think it’s really important that every Minnetonka resident, read the city’s 2040 comprehensive plan, which outlines our strategies for the next 20 years. The Met Council has predicted that we’ll add 10,000 new additional residents in our city (of 53,000 currently), over the next two decades! That’s a large number which exceeds the city’s past historical growth and previous growth projections. We have very little vacant land in Minnetonka. We are already a fully-developed city. If these numbers are accurate, it begs the question, where and how are we going to house all these additional people? With a long term strategy, we can be planful in this regard. Stable and affordable housing is important for a stable community. We want a city that allows seniors to stay in their homes and attracts new families and the next generation to our city. The city has plans in place for the long term, and programs in place for the short term, to support those goals.

Everyone agrees that we want to be a welcoming community for all people, and we have to be planful on how things will be managed. I’m on the board of the Minnesota Homeownership Center and am a strong advocate for the benefits of owned housing. One major concern I have, is that first responders and teachers often cannot afford to own homes in Minnetonka. As I mentioned previously, I’d like to figure out some sort of financial support program that could help city and school district employees to be more able to afford to live here.

Would you have voted to implement the Lone Lake mountain biking trails? Explain.

As part of a compromise when the council voted to approve the mountain biking trails, my proposal, which was adopted by the city, was that we include a yearly review of the affects after the trail is established. People are concerned that a trail will ruin the park, which I clearly do not want to happen. Mountain bikers have pledged to be good stewards of the environment and will be held accountable. If we find in our yearly review that damage is being done to the environment, the city can make changes, including closing the trail.

What, if anything, should be adjusted about the city’s budget and city taxes?

The new police and fire facility is really needed and the city will issue a bond to cover most of the costs. I support this project, as I feel public safety is one of the most important things our property taxes cover. But the tax levy for 2020 at 7.75% is essentially double the amount of past year levees. It needs to be reduced. When the proposed levees of the county and school district are added to the city, I’m concerned about the cumulative effect and impact on Minnetonka’s seniors. Higher costs not only raise the possibility that they will force people to move away from Minnetonka, but also raise another barrier to entry by making affordable housing more costly and actually less affordable.

Have you ever been charged with a gross misdemeanor or higher, or been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy or foreclosure?

No.

Getting to know you

Favorite book or movie?

Casablanca….Bogy and Bacall were awesome.

Favorite subject in school?

I had great math and history teachers, but typing class was one of the most important practical courses at the time, and with computers such a big part of our lives now, keyboarding has become really important!

Who would play you in a movie of your life?

Tom Selleck. I loved his cars, but not his short-shorts, in Magnum P.I.

Dream vacation destination?

I’ve always wanted to go to Norway.

Favorite free local activity?

Walking the dogs….we have two German Shorthairs.

Frances Stevenson is a reporter for the Lakeshore Weekly News, covering the communities around Lake Minnetonka.

Events

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