Name: Paul J Lehman
Address: 15805 Nursery Dr, Minnetonka, MN 55345
Family: Widowed after 41 plus years married to my wife Peggy. Four adult daughters (Jennifer Thompson (Tony), Allison Nikolic (Vladan), Jessica Anderson (Cole), Alexis Lehman) and nine grandchildren.
Employment: Retired after almost 40 years with Xcel Energy
Education: University of Minnesota Institute of Technology - BS Electrical Engineering
Community Involvement: In addition to various youth coaching activities for basketball, soccer and softball, I served many years as the President of the Glen Lake Girls Athletic League (GAL). I volunteered for numerous school related needs (technology lab, class overnight chaperone, senior party leadership) and was asked by the Hopkins School District to serve on a task force charged with advising the district on effective use of school facilities and resources. Through my employer I also volunteered several broader community activities. These efforts include: various park clean-up projects, packed school backpacks for United Way, sorted food donations for food shelves, cleaned and painted kettles for the Salvation Army, lead teams of volunteers on Habitat for Humanity rehab projects, planted trees at Como Park, prepared youth projects for The Works Museum. My current volunteer efforts include coordinating teams of families from my church to ring the bells at the Salvation Army kettle in front of Lunds/Byerly’s in Glen Lake. I also serve as a volunteer non-attorney investigator for the 4th District Ethics Committee of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board. In this capacity, I investigate complaints of unethical behavior that may be filed against attorneys. Similarly, I was appointed by the Minnesota State Supreme Court to serve on the Client Security Board that provides aid to persons who suffer a loss because of the dishonest conduct on the part of a lawyer.
Previous Experience: My volunteer service that provides me with experience for serving on the City Council started with his appointment to the Park Board. I served there for eight years, the last several years as Chair of the Park Board. In that capacity, I oversaw a multimillion-dollar bond referendum for the renewal of the 50 parks and numerous miles of trails in Minnetonka. As a result of my leadership provided throughout my tenure on the Park Board, I was recognized as the Minnesota Recreation and Parks Association’s Board and Commission Member of the year and received the Award of Excellence. Following My service on the Park Board, I was appointed to the Planning Commission. I again served for eight years and again was the Chair of the Planning Commission for the last four years of my service there. During this time, I oversaw the review of several major projects for the City as well as ordinances including tree protection and shoreland preservation.
Why do you want to be on the Minnetonka City Council?
My 16 years of serving on the City’s Boards & Commissions gave me great insight into what needs to be done to achieve all the great things the City has to offer. Because of my strong community ties, the commitment I feel towards the City, and the skills I have to offer, I believe I can be a great asset for the community. The City Council position would afford me the opportunity to continue as a public servant and remain active and involved in an area where I feel I can continue the strength and vitality of the City. I believe I can serve this community well.
What is your view on the state of the city of Minnetonka and the City Council?
I view the state of the City of Minnetonka as very good. It is a great place to live. The natural resources of parks, trails and open space are near the best in the area. The school systems are great and serve our students well. The business community is strong with a mix of major employers and small businesses. The neighborhoods both small and more village-based offer residents a variety of choices for where they want to live. As for the City Council, I see it sound, but poised for change. Other than the Mayor, the council will be “young” in that after November, the average length of time on the council for a member will be less than a year. The potential (depending on the outcome of the election) is that the council could have four new members with two other members having either less than a year or about two years of experience. Thus my 16 years of service on the City’s Boards and Commissions will be a valuable asset to this “young” council.
What would be your top priorities as a City Council member?
As a City Council member, my top priorities will be to address the issues that voters or groups have brought to my attention. These include: meeting the City’s affordable housing goals while also attending to the needs of the aging population of Minnetonka; attending to budget concerns making sure requirements are appropriately funded while seeking to limit financial impacts on residents; seeking ways to accommodate the growth of the City while addressing the impacts of that growth on the community; protecting the natural resources of the City and providing for a sustainable future, and looking for ways the City can be more welcoming and engaging to all parts of our community.
What is the biggest issue facing the City right now?
I see three big challenges facing the City right now.
- Aging in place: The City continues to age and that is a good thing. This means that the people that live here want to stay here. To help with that, we need to make sure the city can accommodate that aging population with housing that is well suited for older residents.
- Affordable housing: Not to be overlooked, the City also needs to help assure there is housing that is affordable for families that are interested in the housing market in Minnetonka.
- Maintaining the city: As is the case with all established cities such as Minnetonka, maintaining the infrastructure of the City is important. This includes not only the streets, buildings and water facilities, but also the parks, trails and natural resources.
Does the city of Minnetonka have a problem with Diversity and if so, how should that be addressed?
I would not say that Minnetonka has a “problem” with diversity because that implies something is wrong. I do agree however that the demographics of Minnetonka are changing, and Minnetonka must meet the challenge of recognizing those changes. Minnetonka takes many steps to foster an engaged and welcoming community. The list of activities that reach out and bring together the community is long. Almost all of these are at no cost to participants (except for food sales) and open to everyone. None the less, altering any of these offerings or developing additional offerings that are more targeted at missing segments of the community would enhance the engagement and feeling of welcoming of the community. I support the City seeking assistance from affiliate organizations that could help evaluate where the City’s offerings are missing the mark for engagement of all its residents and to develop improvements or new offerings as needed. Finally we need to explore ways to better reach all segments of the community to invite them to participate in the City’s offerings.
What should the City and the City Council do to address affordable housing needs?
The 508-unit goal the City has for deep affordability housing is just over 10% of the 4,700 total housing units that are expected to be added in Minnetonka by 2040. Further, the total number of affordable housing additions goal is about 1060 units which is over 20%. Therefore, we should strive to have every larger multi-unit project brought to the City meet a minimum of 10% of its units, and closer to 20%, be affordable. To encourage developers to build affordable housing into their projects, we need to offer greater housing density options within the city. This should look at both locations within the city as well as the number of units per acre available to projects. Many of our neighbors have trouble accepting this higher density near them so we need to have a strong and fact-based response to these concerns. Time and time again, a portion of the resident concerns expressed during community meetings I participated in for the Planning Commission were based on inaccuracies or stereotypes. Developers should be encouraged, and helped if possible, to both minimize the cost of developing housing projects, as well as reduce the on-going costs to those who will live there. While every developer who wants to build in Minnetonka should have that opportunity, one way to drive down development costs is to have non-profit developers. We should look at actions the City could take to encourage this. I know the City has already taken steps to be successful at maintaining and enhancing affordable housing in Minnetonka. We should continue these efforts, while at the same time look for other opportunities that could add to that success.
Would you have voted to implement the Lone Lake mountain biking trails? Explain.
The issue of mountain biking trails at Lone Lake park was brought to the Park Board several years ago and based on the fact set presented to me at that time, I voted against recommending approval of the proposal. I have not had a chance to review the facts around the current proposal for mountain biking at Lone Lake, and I try not to decide on a proposal without knowing all the facts, however, what I have heard has not changed my mind from my initial decision to recommend the City Council not approve the proposal.
What if anything, should be adjusted about the City’s budget and city taxes?
As I said in responding to the last question, I try not to prejudge an issue before being presented the details of that issue and without knowing the facts. So, prior to being able to review the City’s budget as a City Council member can, I can not say what if anything needs to be adjusted. What I can say is that I believe the City needs to make sure it is meeting the needs of the community for the safety, services and facilities that are the core of the City. At the same time, I believe the City must be as efficient as possible in using the tax dollars collected from all of our residents and businesses.
Have you ever been charged with a gross misdemeanor or higher, or been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy or foreclosure?
No I have not been charged with a gross misdemeanor or higher and no I have not been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy or foreclosure.
Getting to know you
Favorite book or movie?
I don’t have a single favorite movie or book. I currently most enjoy movies or books that have a puzzle to be solved. Thus, the books of Dan Brown (Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons, Inferno, The Lost Symbol, Origin) and the movies based on them top that list. I also like adventure/fantasy, so I enjoy the Marvel movies based on Marvel comic books. In addition, I like historical or documentaries such as Nixon, JFK or most WWII movies. If I am just looking for a bit of fun, old time comedies such as A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum or It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World are great.
Favorite subject in school?
Who would play you in a movie of your life?
I have been told I look like Al Pacino so he would be a good match – plus he a great actor.
Dream vacation destination?
Anywhere that has a beach with warm crystal-clear ocean waters. I have been to Hawaii twice and both times it fit the bill as being a dream vacation.
Favorite free local activity?
Walking the trails and parks of Minnetonka.