The mayor’s position for Golden Valley is up for election Nov. 5. Running for the spot are incumbent Shep Harris and city council member Steve Schmidgall.

Harris has served as mayor for two terms for a total of eight years. Schmidgall has served on the city council for seven years and was appointed to council after a resignation.

The two candidates answered this questionnaire as part of the Sun Post’s 2019 Voter’s Guide.

Shep Harris

Address: 2425 Zane Ave. N.

Age: 47

Family: Spouse, Beckie Skelton; two children at Armstrong High School, a third child at Heilicher Minneapolis Jewish Day School

Education: B.A. American University

Occupation: Government relations specialist for nonprofit groups (Girls Scouts, Youthprise, Ka Joog, etc.)

Years lived in city: 15

Community involvement: PRIME, Sweet Potato Comfort Pie, Rotary, GV Business Council, League of Women Voters, GV Historical Society, Sons of American Legion, GV Girls Softball, Little League, NFL Flag Football Coach

Why are you seeking election for Golden Valley Mayor?

As mayor, we have accomplished a great deal over the past four years: re-investing and innovating in our infrastructure with Brookview Community Center and other recreational facilities; taking on social justice issues like racial equity, gun safety, affordable housing, immigrants’ rights and keeping tobacco away from teens; and we have governed in a collaborative way reducing our debt by nearly 30%, assisting local entrepreneurs, and updating our 21st century communications via Twitter/Instagram.

I’m seeking re-election as mayor as there is much more to do to make Golden Valley an inclusive community for all, and be the best in Minnesota. We can revitalize our downtown, bring in light rail and better bus service, better protect the charm of our neighborhoods and obtain state funds for Highway 55 pedestrian under- and overpasses. We can advance racial equity, environmental actions and affordable housing protections, and we can “move” our community forward in a more engaged, responsive and collaborative style of governing.

Choose two issues that the Golden Valley City Council should address. Why should the council focus on these issues?

We have a unique opportunity to better define our community, both physically and how we welcome/engage our residents. First, I wish to join the new city council in leading a community conversation around reinvigorating areas of our downtown infrastructure to be more pedestrian-friendly, accessible, and supportive of small businesses – including a grocery store/pharmacy.

Second, looking through an equity “lens,” we must better engage communities of color in, and to, Golden Valley, and we must aggressively address issues of affordable housing particularly for a growing population of seniors on fixed incomes.

What leadership qualities would you bring to the mayor’s office? What role do you believe the mayor plays in effective city government?

As mayor, I “show up” to support our community, neighborhoods and businesses. I have been accessible, approachable, a good “ambassador” and promoter of the city. I have succeeded in obtaining outside funding for our playgrounds, infrastructure and transit corridors. I have been a positive, strong advocate for residents to city hall and I have spoken against insensitive or unwelcoming comments.

Steve Schmidgall

Address: 6534 Olympia St.

Age: 65

Family: Married with two daughters

Education: Bachelor of Environmental Design and Master of Business Administration from the University of Minnesota.

Occupation: Project manager for building construction projects

Years lived in city: 35

Community involvement: City council, seven years; planning commission, nine years, chair of bike/pedestrian task force, two years, historical society vice president, six years, District 281 Financial Advisory Council, nine years; Golden Valley Girls Softball League.

Contact information:

Why are you seeking election for Golden Valley Mayor?

To lead the city council, city staff and residents back to the core mission and values of city government: Strategic development to include affordable housing and new businesses; infrastructure maintenance and enhancement to include completion of the pavement management program, improved access across Highway 55, expanded bike and pedestrian trails and amenities, and continued work on the Blue Line extension; fiscal responsibility, to include paying down city debt and using enterprise funding to support projects mentioned above; effective governance, expand services to all residents, continued improvement in public safety, and continued growth in parks and recreation.

Choose two issues that the Golden Valley City Council should address. Why should the council focus on these issues?

1) A plan for Golden Valley’s City Center to include the Golden Valley shopping center and the city government campus. This will be a guide for citywide development for the next 25 to 50 years.

2) Access across Highway 55: this highway is a major divider of our community and needs to be conveniently crossed to consolidate out community.

What leadership qualities would you bring to the mayor’s office? What role do you believe the mayor plays in effective city government?

I’ve managed construction of nearly a billion dollars worth of construction over my career. I firmly believe that selecting the right team is key to success. Our city has outstanding employees and interested and involved residents. I believe in open, transparent governance with involvement of all constituents: residents, city staff, the city council, and its commissions.

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