VOTER GUIDE: Tom Tanner – Candidate for City Council

Tom Tanner took time to sit down with me today to talk about his life and candidacy for an open Wayzata City Council seat. Here is an overview of what we talked about.

Dan Gustafson: Tom, thanks for meeting with me. What prompted you to run for the Wayzata City Council?

Tom Tanner: I have always had a feeling that at some point in your life, it’s nice to take your life experiences and talents and give back to society what you have gotten out of it. When I first got involved with the City of Wayzata, it was at the urging of former Wayzata Mayor Barry Petit, because of my background in the construction industry. He felt that a guy with my talents knowing construction, and rules and regulations, it would be a good asset for the planning commission. When I didn’t make it the first go ’round, I was asked to serve on the Heritage Preservation Board. So I did that for a year, and when an opportunity came for a new planning commissioner… I thought, I’ll give it a shot. …I got the highest number of votes from the [Wayzata City] Council to take the three year term. So with that, I joined that enthusiastically, and I have always had a love for this community and being a part of it.
Years ago I ran, because I felt at that time, that you had two candidates, running for their own seats, and I wanted the citizens of Wayzata to be able to choose who they felt best represented their community… I ran hard, learned a lot about myself, it was great. I didn’t make it, I lost by 50 votes, it was a good experience and I was still on the Planning Commission serving as Active Chairman. My last year, I stayed on as Active Chairman, I applied for re-appointment, and my peers elected me to be Chairman. With the election coming up, I thought we had a good Council, and when Andrew [Humphrey] decided to step down, and when Ken Willcox decided to run for the Mayor position, I thought, I’ll throw my hat in the ring. This is a great community to be a part of.
DG: What do you hope to accomplish in office?
TT: I hope to be fair, look at it from all sides of an issue on an application. The one thing I have learned, you really can’t think with your feelings, you have to look at it, you have to remove yourself–there are projects I have seen that I wished didn’t happen and there are projects I didn’t see happen I wished would have happened.
DG: Do you have any family?
TT: I have a son JP, I raised by myself. He’s an architect in Phoenix, and I just became a grandfather a month ago.
DG: Why did you decide to move to Wayzata?
TT: …I was here [Wayzata] one Saturday morning, I was at the office, came out for breakfast at the Original Pancake House. I started looking through the local paper, and saw a couple of townhouses for sale and I thought, here’s my opportunity, I might never have it again… So I bought it and have been remodeling it the last few years.
DG: In your opinion, what are the three biggest issues facing Wayzata residents today?
TT: I think the declining retail market, we need somebody to get that thing kick started. One of the avenues is to bring business owners together, and bring in some outside consultants and figure out what is it that we can do better to assist them to create a more positive and growing economy for them. I was just at the Bay Center, and it’s like a ghost town in there… I don’t know how the people down their survive. …We need somebody to figure out how to kick start the retail avenue until the Bay Center gets built. The Bay Center is not going to be the end all to retail…
The second issue I see is the traffic and how it pertains to people in the community. The big concern is with Central Avenue and Wayzata Boulevard. How do we gauge traffic, how do we make it so it is palatable to the community. I don’t want people driving down Wayzata Boulevard at 80 miles per hour while you’ve got people trying to cross to Klapprich Park or areas like that. Traffic is a real concern…
The third issue one that is close to my heart and that is Lake Minnetonka… the mil foil, concerned about the curly pond weed, the invasive species, zebra muscles. Right now we haven’t had any issues with zebra mussels yet… Wayzata is really kind of a playground, that’s what it is. I would say that if you could figure out a percentage, if you have people that come here, greater than 50% to play here. The rest come here to dine here, they come here to shop, some people want to work here, some people want to live here. But I think it’s very important that we keep the lake as clean and as beautiful as we can. It’s really our biggest asset.
DG: Fill in your resume for us, if you would.
TT: For the first 20 years of my life, I worked with a manufacturer… Inland Steel out of Chicago. My first real claim to fame was I sold all the metal wall panel around the Metrodome. The I went to work for a basketball floor company, (Note from Dan: Tom said he sold the floor to the Timberwolves and several other NBA teams earlier in our conversation, but I missed it on tape) …[Then] I decide to make a career change.
What I am doing now is I have my own company, I have a sales and marketing company… really high end commercial type ceilings and expansion joints. Right now we are working on the Twins Stadium and the Gophers Stadium. The name of that company is Tanner Company.
DG: Your education, what are the details?
TT: I have a degree in Marketing from the University of Wisconsin. While is was in Chicago, I attended Rosary College and got my MBA in finance.
DG: If people want to get in touch with you, how should they do so?
TT: They can send me an email to my office address: Otherwise they can call me at my home. That number is 952-473-0036, otherwise my cellphone is 612-889-2594.
Stay tuned to for all the latest info on Tom Tanner’s City Council race.

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