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Listen to Episode 3

 

On episode 3 of the Gov Gab podcast series, we sit down with Eagan, Minnesota Mayor Mike Maguire. We have a wide-ranging conversation about how he progressed from being on the Council to running for Mayor, as well as, many discussions around long-range planning, working in a bipartisan way with other members of the Council, and looking out for citizens and employees of the city.

About Mayor Maguire

After serving as a City Council Member from 2003-2007, Mike Maguire, Eagan's 8th Mayor, was first in 2006 and is currently serving his fourth term.

Mayor Maguire has a bachelor's degree from Suffolk University in Boston, a master's degree from Mankato State University, completed doctoral course work at Indiana University and was selected to participate in the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute's Policy Forum Fellows Program. Mayor Maguire has taught public speaking and communication at St. Olaf College among others and is a public affairs and media relations professional.

As Mayor, he is part of the City Council's Finance & Personnel Committees, represents Eagan on the Board of the Municipal Legislative Commission, and serves as a member of the Eagan Convention and Visitors Bureau Board. Mayor Maguire is also a member of the Regional Council of Mayors’ and is a Regional Leader on Housing Policy and Community Development. Mayor Maguire has served as Chair of the Municipal Legislative Commission, President of the Association of Metropolitan Municipalities, on the League of Minnesota Cities Board of Directors and on Governor Dayton's Task Force on Housing.

Mike and his wife Janelle have lived in Eagan since they were married in 1995 and their son Ian attends the Minnesota School of Environmental Studies in ISD 196.

Show Script:

Mike:

The first thing she said to me was amazingly disarming and I've held on to what she said: Everybody here who was on Council ran against Council, so you're among friends. And immediately I started learning and understanding that things just aren't just politically sharp as you might think.

Brian:

Welcome to another episode of the Gov Gab radio podcast. I'm your host Brian Ondrako. Thanks again for being a part of another one. And excited to take a little trip north where we visit with Eagan, Minnesota Mayor Mike McGuire. Mayor McGuire was on the City Council from 2003 to 2006 and now he's serving his fourth term as mayor for the city. And we talked about a lot of things from long range planning to you know, working cohesively and collectively with the council and a lot of different committees that are set up and really the whole point is you know, how do we give back to the citizens and really the employees that are coming into work in Eagan each and every day. So have a pretty wide-ranging conversation on a variety of topics, and I think you guys will really enjoy this one with Mayor McGuire. So without further ado, let's jump into my chat today with Mayor Mike McGuire. Mayor Maguire, welcome to the podcast. Thanks for joining.

Mike:

Thanks, Brian. Thanks for having me. Appreciate it.

Brian:

Yeah, this is really neat. You know, obviously, as we go through and talk with some different, you know, leaders across the country, it's cool to talk to different folks just to see their background and why they're kind of getting involved in their, in their local communities and so on. And I want to start with you actually, because I'm curious, and I know you kind of from, you know, different parts of the country and obviously settled in Eagan there. But I'm curious, when did you, I guess, the idea of getting started and getting involved in the community and whether it was the current community or in or maybe it was another one that you move from, and I'm just kind of curious when that idea kind of started their mind, and then we'll take it from there.

Mike:

Well, you know, I kind of grew up kind of interested in politics and policy. And I moved from the East Coast out to southern Minnesota, and met my wife there in southern Minnesota. And, you know, when we got married, we had kind of a shared value of interest in politics and public policy and community service. And the more we became invest financially in our community, and we put down roots, bought a house and had a son, it was just natural to get involved in the community. We started following local politics and got involved in our church and, so I just decided right about the time we had our first son actually to run for City Council. I'd been to a couple of council debates and had some concerns in our community about the way that citizens were being listened to. And I have had the experience running campaigns on a statewide level and put those learnings to work to get elected to City Council. And then after chairman of City Council, I was encouraged by the departing mayor to run for mayor so that's an interesting trip. But it was it's been about two years now, since we made that decision.

Brian:

And were you involved in any like committees or anything with the city prior to or did you just say, I'm going to go straight shot, go for Council and start there, you know?

Mike:

The usual path would be to be involved in or in an advisory committee or something like that. We have a number of them in our city here. And again, I didn't go that route. I actually just came out of the community. I was engaged in a church that had some affordable housing concerns that they were sharing with the Council at the time. And I was occasionally a warm body represented in that group in a Council meeting. And just kind of in that way, and then there was another local issue as well that I took kind of a profile on a little bit testing the waters for whether how to run for Council would be a viable thing. I always had an interest in learning process from it. Just it just made sense.

Brian:

And what you mentioned the outgoing mayor kind of mentioned you, maybe tapped you on the shoulders, and said hey, maybe this is something you like to do. What was appealing about you know, obviously, being on the Council, there's a bunch of other folks there. And you're kind of working now to be kind of that head guy, if you will, what was appealing about running for mayor and that's something you ever wanted to do before you got tapped for that?

Mike:

Not necessarily, although, you know, I mean, I first ran for City Council thinking I was going to use it as a stepping stone to go to the state legislature where I thought my interests were, were more and certainly seems politically sexier. But you know, the mayor and I ran for the mayor and me City Council. At the same time, we were first elected at the same time, and he and I were new to the council at the time, I think we shared some similar concerns on how the council was communicating with to the staff and with the community. So he and I were really close to one another when he was elected. And and so when he decided he was only going to serve one term, and I had learned a lot, quite frankly, just in my first two weeks, years of being on the council, how to work with other council members. I discovered in short time that there's not as much politics to city council as you might think there are certainly as much as you think they are from the outside. And so to some extent, I kind of come down and start picking fights with my colleagues, he started working with them and it was a very productive council at the time. So when the mayor tapped me and said, You know, I think you can help keep this going and keep this Council moving in a productive direction for the community. That was a really attractive opportunity. I wanted to continue the work that he and I had done in moving in that direction in the city council. It's been really a progression that we've been able to maintain for the last 20 years in the community, which I think is really strengthen the community and help it become a more successful city and a stronger community.

Brian:

Is there one thing you wish you knew prior to either running for Council or running for mayor that, you know, obviously, you know, now and maybe you can share that advice with others that may be thinking about that someday?

Mike:

Yeah, well, you know, I think when I first ran for Council, one of the things that the kind of fascinating it's a short story, but I went to a holiday party that was hosted by the mayor who was leaving the Council and why it basically run for city council in some pretty sharp criticism of or competition to, and, you know, I first walked into the door at her holiday party and on this young Council member elections, people don't really know much except for we just want to campaign to go to City Council. And the first thing she said to me was amazingly disarming and I've held on to whatever said she said, everybody here who was on Council ran against Council, so you're among friends. And immediately I started learning and understanding that things just aren't as politically sharp as you might think they are that doesn't really want disagree mission. But once I discovered on the way to being mayor and on the way to the Council is people really do work together, more than you think they do. And, and I mean, in a genuine way, not in and trying to rig the system wages but you know, they have disagreements productively and amicably and the local level politics isn't, I think, what is what it might appear to be from the outside or what it might appear to be, if you haven't really seen it before.

Brian:

One of the things that is always appealing to me, especially from, you know, looking for, like a mayor standpoint is, you know, obviously, you're juggling a full-time job and career and also kind of running the city there as well. Obviously, for those not in the position, what's the time commitment look like, on your end? How do you juggle those things, how do you prioritize so that you can kind of get everything done, you need to?

Mike:

Well, I, you know, I have progressively juggled those things, but then also reduce the number of things that I juggle. So when I was first elected mayor, I was I was working full time and, you know, I'm fortunate I have a wife was very supportive personally of this work and of the time commitment. And so progressively it's, I've become more and more committed to the marriage job. And, and I voluntarily kind of reduce my professional commitments, it's very difficult to balance it and work on time jobs, especially when you're working for somebody else, I found that I would sometimes have to be committed to the marriage job feel like I was stealing from the end by not reducing my commitment to the employer. So eventually, I reduce my commitment to my employer to a part time and so I could better commit to the mayor's job and then we had a workforce reduction, and I had to leave that part-time job consultant for a little bit, but it was more work than it was worth trying to balance it with a mayor's job, so progressively, I haven't had to do those juggles when I started out, you know a couple of commitments I had to make was, you know, I need every Monday morning with my City Administrator. Some might call it a city manager, and and that's something that I've continued to do regardless of my work situation is and then juggle that around, you know, the more on not having to juggle a full time job, the more I have an opportunity to have meetings during the day with city staff or with a developer who wants to propose something in the city. 

And you know, the other thing that I did early on, you know, I had a young son who wanted to be a good parent, too. So I kind of always made the rules that, you know, I'm a member of the community 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but I really put up a boundary around my family weekend and, and tried to avoid doing city business of any sort during the weekends can always do that. But prior to kind of say, only the most important things on a Saturday or Sunday or Friday night. It helps to kind of maintain those balances both personally and professionally. You know.

Brian:

Are there any and you mentioned the meeting that you do every, you know, Monday morning? Are there any daily habits, any routines that you stick to? Maybe things that are important, again, to keep you structured, maybe keep you sane? At some point?

Mike:

Yeah, well, you know, while I'm not working at this point in time an additional job, you know, my work week is most structured in the beginning of the week, that that Monday morning appointment is, is an important part of the routine for me. And I think for my City Administrator, we have a Council meeting usually in a Tuesday following that. So that, you know, starts me off and starts him off with any questions that I think me or the council might have in that meeting. We also have a chance to like to touch bases on a number of different scheduling options or on an upcoming event that we were he's handing off my talking points so that Monday morning meeting is a real important part of the weekly routine and I don't you know that that the job isn't as daily as much as it is kind of weekly and monthly, so that's an opportunity to kind of reset you can set down what is a week look like for a mayor and then I can work my, my personal schedule around. Of course, you know, I'm active beyond the city in a number of different kind of volunteer mayoral groups. So city status, always keeping track of those appointments and mileage and any material that I need for those meetings and things like that.

Brian:

And what's kind of, you know, obviously, you mentioned all these different things, you're involved, is there a favorite part of the job of being mayor, something that you like the most?

Mike:

Well, you know, in the context of an actual meeting, or an issue that's in front of the community that maybe has some attention, you know, the most satisfying for me, thing for me always is to find reasonable middle that reasonably balances out as many people's interest as possible, and allows the community, the neighborhood developer to move forward in a positive way. And that always feels effective and reassuring, you know, beyond that, you know, quite frankly, it's to get to the opportunities, I have to sit down over a cup of coffee with a developer or accounting representative, to talk about a community issue, or to work out relations between different governmental bodies, and, and, and get things done to keep things moving. Even if it's really, really quietly forward in a positive direction. You know, we have a really strong city here and again, we're located just about 20 minutes from the airport. And, and we are a real good employment center is thing we can do to kind of keep that investment reinvestment going and keeping this community moving forward is is very satisfying. And even if it is at the simplest meeting, because it takes that relationship to be able to bring an issue before the Council and to successful completion. So it's all part of the process. And that, that process of getting to win and getting to Yes, is what I most enjoy.

Brian:

Yeah, and is there any, and you can kind of go back to the City Council days as well. But is there one or two decisions, you know, you've been extremely proud of whether they're very high public profile or maybe again, those some of those ones that not many people talk about, but they were really important?

Mike:

Well, you know, we, I think have to, and they're not, you know, there's back in the City Council days. And then once as mayor, you know, we had some particular community controversies around golf courses, they weren't easy decisions. And, there are some people came out with hurt feelings, and some people who came out not having seen the outcome they would have liked, and that cause some neighborhood fractures and things like that. But I think that those are important decisions. And it's important to step up and make them even when they're hard. So I think about those. A decision that I'm proud of,  because I think that was a solid decision that helped me this community forward, is a few years ago, I really worked in advocated as mayor with my Council  for the city to go through a kind of 20-year visioning plan, and engage our citizens in a variety of ways to help us work together to define a vision for what they want the community to be 20 years, because I really thought that we would, the Council of five would be well served, to hear from the community more about what they want the community then to just kind of rely on our own imaginations, having done the job city council member in America at that time, decade or more for each of us, which is a good stability. 

But it's also important, I think, to go back and touch base again, with the community after you've been running for re-election So awesome. And you might still be holding the same vision that you started with, so refreshing that vision, and we call that you can forward and we came out with a 20-year vision that really has started to take root and guide our city staff, our City Council members as well, and I think was a really productive conversation that we had. So I was really proud with the initial decision to really encourage my Council members of doing the work resistant to it. But it took some encouraging because, you know, we put some resources into it and want to make sure that as a vision that's going to help us move forward.

Brian:

How do you prioritize those, especially if there's a lot of, you know, citizen engagement, and they're bringing up a lot of ideas? Is there is there any way that, you know, you guys I don't know, if I don't know what tactics you use to prioritize, or was it just kind of looking at, hey, here's where we want to go with the cleaning. And this is what's going to direct us. Anything you can share?

Mike:

Well, you know, the process can kind of six strategies and they you know, is a range of different things from physical amenities like bike and pedestrian trails, to make an even more welcoming community, and recognizing our demographic, and racial and cultural diversity and the increasing numbers on on those kinds of issues as well. So, they aren't specific policies and, you know, we prioritize things, you know, to some extent, the way we always have, there's a certain set of what I would suggest, our fiduciary responsibilities to the community, and that, you know, that goes around raising revenue and, and providing vital services. And we have a fairly limited menu of services that we provide as a city, obviously, public safety, and then public works, and plowing the streets and things like that. And then you look for how within doing those fiduciary responsibilities, and through things like your parks department, or your communication department, you can work on those community connections and, and at the same time, be working on the infrastructure with public works, that helps build the bike lanes, and you work with the parks department on how you can integrate public art into your parks programming, because those are kinds of things that bring your community together and make for non drifter, successful city, but a strong community. 

And I think that's the kind of vibrant that people looking for a place to live, want to see that companies looking for a place to locate and bring their employees to want to see. And at the end of the day, if we are successful at building a strong community and setting those directions out there as a vision of who we want being the fiduciary responsibilities come when people see that vision that I want to invest in your community. And that's what I'm what I'm really excited about in terms of what we've managed to do here and eagerness what I like to refer to as our secret sauce, but it's it's really the roadmap for community vibrates, no matter where you are.

Now, it sounds like some really good foundation you guys got going there and excited to see how that growth takes form over the next several years. And obviously we're very fortunate, there's no doubt about that.

Brian:

Yeah, what is from and if you look from the opposite side, you know, I'm an optimist as it is, but a glass half full guy. But if we took the other approach, like what do you find is maybe the biggest challenge that you guys are and either anticipating, maybe you're seeing now or you're anticipating over the next few years that you guys have to deal with?

Mike:

Well, you know, we have, we have kind of a fiscally conservative tradition here in the city. And then that's not just about, you know, dollars and cents, it's also about how we make sure to kind of keep a reign on what are out, so we've had a very successful last few years in terms of growth. But we have certainly gone through those periods where we struggled, we've had to cut back on staff. And so, you know, one of the things is that when the goal is good, recognize that it's not always going to be going that way, and to be smart and, and conservative, and how much you project and how you manage the resources that you have and how you make sure to keep so that aside because the good times are going to roll every year and grow every year they're going to be some downtime and you want to be prepared for that. 

So we do a really solid job, I think on that front of not getting out in front of our students too much. And then, you know, my perspective in this community in particular, you know, the biggest challenge that I see is we you know, we have we've added some important corporate citizens in the last few years right now we get into a net employment job center, which means more people come into work every day then go to other cities from the again to work every day. We're projected to have about 80,000 jobs in this community about 20 years from now and as the City Council the city intensifies a number of jobs in the city I think we also have to keep a focus and it's a challenge keeping it focused on also having homes for those employees for those jobs that are affordable at every price point in the circuit so for me affordable housing kind of comes full circle as one of the reasons why I initially got involved in the City Council. And one of the biggest channel is it see coming forward and it's a matter of being victims of our own success but then also providing for that continued success and that continued foundations.

Brian:

Why do you feel you know you mentioned the and maybe it is you know the housing opportunities there and you know those type of things why do you think job that are coming in so much to the city versus others surrounding you guys is there certain thing you might maybe it's part of that secret sauce here imagine but there is there certain things you guys are trying to do or?

Mike:

Well you know, you can't underestimate the value of location and that's a significant part of it you know we are the community itself and the local government makes. You know when we have evaluation so we citizens, our city staff gets high marks. I think we are quality of city service really is excellent, but you know that also I think you know, we have a conservative approach to funding the government doesn't mean that we are unreasonable about our taxes, but we keep them low and we run an efficient machine and I think like the businesses and employers appreciate that.

Our taxes are a little bit lower or on par with most of our members you know here in the Twin Cities region we have some growth. Property tax base sharing programs that really discourage I think productively cities from being directly with one another. So you know, you don't see the city of Eagan giving out a whole lot of subsidies to try to bring jobs in, we can let the community speak for itself as and you also can't underestimate the notion that we have 67,000 people here. And, and that's, you know, that creates a market for retailers that they want to serve as well. So when you're successful with a big employers, you have opportunities for more business to business, as well as more opportunities for people to do business with the employees and citizens and residents. And so it's a systematic thing that we just have been very fortunate in, in being able to put together and keep going here.

Brian:

And I kind of want to, you know, end on, you know, some advice maybe, and this is, you know, kind of the open forum part I like to have where I'm going to take it on two fronts, so, maybe advice for other mayor's or other leaders of cities around the country. And then secondly, maybe for folks that want to get involved in, you know, in local government, and they want to kind of get back their time, what would advice maybe share them both of those parties, on maybe improving their communities, and also the folks that know, again, want to be involved in, in volunteer and those type of things?

Mike:

Yeah, well, you know, I think maybe twofold. I think in terms of advice to other mayors, you know, and I think every mayor knows his community, his or her community, and or their Council and can be, don't need my advice, I guess. But, you know, I've always tried to, you know, to take this job, and statutorily it's a non-current job, that's something I take seriously, my colleagues take seriously. And we've built up a history and a trust to really fly the flag of our party as our city. And that's always our focus. And we don't get distracted by the politics that goes on above our heads. So, you know, I encourage any mayor to try to build up that atmosphere with your Council, you know, it starts with being able to trust one another, it starts to be able to, it starts with being able to disagree with one another, but also move on. And, you know, we have some rules in our City Council that I think works really well for us, you know, we, we tried to praise in public and criticize and private and, and once the council has taken a vote as Council members and as the mayor, we don't go back in and talk about or a model that both with our colleagues again, it's it's just a matter of, you know, we resolve issues and then they move on, and we do it professionally, we maintain our relationship. So the more you can kind of have a professional relationship and foster that environment respect with your full Council, I think it pays back in how effectively you can work with on the community side, for anybody who is thinking about, you know, getting interested in their community encouragement I would have is large before you get involved and, and do it for the resolution. 

You know, I think, you know, we're in an environment these days where I think people are quick to get up in arms, and emotional, and quick dissing adversaries where there might be colleagues or partners. And too often these days, getting involved is sometimes getting involved for the vocal reasons but maybe not the right ones in terms of helping your community. So if you're, if you're looking at the Council and you're you're wanting to get involved, if you're wanting to get involved because you want to make a change, do a little bit of research and make sure that that that that change is something that is for the better in the community and not just something that looks politically shiny at the time.

Brian:

Mayor Maguire, this is awesome having you on and sharing a lot of that journey and insight into the inner city there. I really appreciate it. Really appreciate taking time out today. 

Mike:

Well, thanks. I appreciate your taking the time with me as well. Brian, it's been a pleasure talking to you and I wish you all the best. 

Brian:

Hey, everyone. Thanks for joining in this episode. And we really appreciate if you head over to iTunes. Leave us a quick review give us a rating. We certainly appreciate any feedback you can share so we can make this podcast better each and every episode. Thanks again for listening and I hope you guys have a phenomenal day. Take care.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

 

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