On the (retired) Mayor’s Mind

Friday, December 15, 2017

Shari Winstead and
Chris Roberts
Photo by Steven H. Robinson
A reception was held on Monday, December 11, 2017 to honor Shari Winstead, who is retiring from the Shoreline City Council after eight years.

By Deputy Mayor Shari Winstead

I was humbled and grateful that so many people took time out of their Monday evening to attend my retirement reception.

My service to you, the citizens of Shoreline, as Mayor, Deputy Mayor and a City Councilmember over the last eight years has been one of the greatest and most challenging experiences of my life.

When I launched my campaign in 2009 against an incumbent, many thought it was very unlikely I would win. Hard work, listening to people and engagement in our community proved different.

Prior to running I was deeply involved in the Shoreline community. It was that engagement that caused people to ask me to run for office, which was very flattering – especially since I had never dreamed of doing so. However, I wanted to see our City move in a more progressive, positive manner. I wanted Shoreline to be known as the City with a cohesive council that got things done. So I took on the challenge.

Campaigning was tough. I doorbelled 10,000 homes and raised about $25,000. But campaigning is completely different than the job of an elected official. Even though I had served on several boards, including the neighborhood association, becoming a “policymaker” – which ultimately determines how we will fulfill the citizens' vision of the City - while also balancing a busy full-time job and a family - gave me a run for my money. My natural characteristics of being organized, a planner, and optimistic were put to the test.

Some of the people who came for the reception
Photo by Steven H. Robinson
I served as Mayor through the most contentious time Shoreline has ever seen, the rezone of the land around our future light rail stations.

Trying to predict and plan for the changes that will come to our area in the future was a challenge – and our Council worked diligently and consistently on this issue for five years prior to the final hearings.

Despite our doing our best to inform people of the rezone process with postcards, letters, e-mails, Currents and door-to-door canvassing, most people did not become engaged until the end of the process when flyers stating the Council was coming to get your property – an absolute lie - were posted in neighborhoods.

While I appreciate that people were engaging in the process, most were confused and/or angry, having been misled. Many were happy that we were planning for the growth that would inevitably happen, and were doing our best to limit that growth to areas that would be served by light rail.

Will Hall's tribute to Shari
Photo by Steven H. Robinson
I wrote many articles that were published in the Shoreline Area News during that time, (On the Mayor's Mind) trying to explain what was happening. I read and responded to hundreds of letters and comments, listened to members of the public speak (often swearing and screaming) at Public Comment at City Council meetings.

The comments were important. However, the disrespect made it hard to truly hear the content. 

Unfortunately, public comment is not a town hall forum, so Councilmembers are not allowed to respond to those comments. I learned a valuable lesson that I will forever carry with me.

If you want someone to hear you, be respectful and calm. Whether it’s a co-worker, your spouse, your kids, a neighbor or an elected official – it’s much easier to hear when you are not feeling defensive.

I can be as passionate as they come, and sometimes voice-raising comes with passion, but not disrespect. Every elected official on the Shoreline City Council was doing their best to balance both the needs of our region, the needs of our citizens, and the needs of our planet.

Capturing our future growth near the light rail stations would mean fewer cars on the road, lessening our carbon footprint. Rezoning those areas near the light rail stations for multi-story housing would mean preserving at least 80% of our single family neighborhoods.

For this little guy, she's not the Mayor,
she's Grandma
Photo by Steven H. Robinson
Most surprising were people who claim to be environmentalists yet did not understand the logic of the rezone (and ironically continued to waste valuable resources (trees!) printing flyers and signs protesting the rezone).

After extensive Council meetings, some going past midnight, the legislation passed in March 2015. I couldn’t have been happier – happy that the work was done and we had adapted many changes proposed by citizens. And happy that my term as Mayor would soon be over. Those two years probably aged me by 20. I knew the work was incredibly important to the future of our City, and had no regard for the personal sacrifice it required of me. I was simply doing my job.

As I said, the past eight years have been the best and the most challenging. Although the rezone will always be the issue that I will remember the most, there were so many other accomplishments that make me proud.

The most important in my mind was bringing forth the healthy city initiative to our citizens. A healthy city is not just about food and exercise, but also about bringing our community together. The Farmers’ Market, the Monster Mash Dash, Community Gardens and the restructured Celebrate Shoreline festival are just a few of the things that we started in Shoreline during my term.

2017 Council poses for their last photo together
Photo by Steven H. Robinson

We also worked to make our City safer by increasing patrols and supporting the needs of our police department, including the remodel of City Hall so the police department can be housed with all other City services. Besides having the space now needed, the presence of our police department in City Hall will help keep our employees safe. The traffic safety program was in full swing, and many of us saw new stop signs and other traffic calming measures put in place that make our streets safer.

Shoreline is a better place now than it was when I took office. But as I said on Monday evening, that is not because of me alone. I was privileged to work with other councilmembers who believed in working together through adversity, to do our best for the citizens. Our Council was supported by smart, dedicated staff members who would do the research and analysis and provide us a recommendation – recommendations that were often challenged and changed. Council would always receive a respectful thank you from the staff that had worked so hard – even if our final decision was completely different from their recommendation. All signs of true professionals.

Shari Winstead, Mayor,
Deputy Mayor, Councilmember,
Community Volunteer
I want to extend my heartfelt appreciation to everyone in Shoreline. While we may or may not have agreed on every issue, we have one thing in common, our love of this very special City. After serving as one of the caretakers and policy makers for the last eight years, and intimately understanding how things get done, I know that without a doubt we are the best. I will always be proud to say I am from Shoreline (just north of Seattle!)

I hope to see you soon in one of our beautiful parks, walking the nature trails or picking up groceries!

Prior to being elected, Councilmember Winstead served on the Shoreline Parks Board, co-chaired the Shoreline Parks, Trails and Open Space bond committee, was a founding member of ShoreDog and a lead in creating the Shoreview Off-Leash Area, a board member of the Shoreline Breakfast Rotary club, a member of the King County Partnership for Youth Justice, a board member of the Echo Lake Neighborhood Association, and served on several City advisory boards. You can now find her at home waiting for her new puppy, reading a book, at a yoga studio or riding her bike with her husband Stan.


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