As he remembers it, a trash can launched former Anoka Council Member Mark Freeburg’s political career.
As a Realtor in the mid-1990s, Freeburg would drive clients around Anoka, and he began to notice a theme.
“I kept hearing from people that I work with, ‘This is a really cute town, but it needs work,’” Freeburg said.
One day he was appalled by the sheer ugliness of a city-owned trash can, and it was the straw that broke the camel’s back, he said. He decided to get involved and do something about it.
He successfully ran for office and then began his tenure on the council in January 1997. There he remained until retiring from the post at the end of last year after choosing not to seek reelection in November.
He was honored last week for 24 years of service on the Anoka City Council.
At the Jan. 4 council meeting, City Manager Greg Lee presented him a plaque thanking him for “exemplary” leadership. In a slideshow presentation featuring photos from 25 years ago and present day, Lee called Freeburg instrumental in the city’s beautification efforts and the creation of the city’s historic preservation district.
Police Chief Eric Peterson also presented Freeburg a plaque recognizing him as a staunch supporter of public safety.
Mayor Phil Rice praised Freeburg’s passion for the city.
“You wanted to see improvement and, in your words, ‘I’m all in,’” Rice said. “I think that’s really the attitude you’ve had the whole time you’ve been here.”
Council Member Jeff Weaver compared Freeburg to the Energizer Bunny and said he “walked the walk” and “made things happen.”
Anoka Sen. Jim Abeler also attended the meeting to honor Freeburg.
“Without people like you, Mark, Anoka would be a city that would just be another town,” he said.
Freeburg called it an honor to serve.
“It’s not about me,” he said. “It’s about the whole town.”
Although his service on the council is over, Freeburg said he’s not going far.
“If you screw up, I haven’t burned my (campaign) signs yet,” he warned the council, joking. “I still got ‘em. They’re in storage, so don’t make me come back!”