Edina’s newest council member begins political career at age 70

Edina’s newest council member begins political career at age 70

Ron Anderson is settling into his new role as an Edina City Council member, but at the age of 70, he’s not settling down.

Anderson took office to begin 2019 after emerging as the top vote-getter among six candidates last November, campaigning on a promise to “pump the brakes on runaway development.”

Having not served in public office previously, Anderson noted in an interview with the Sun Current that he has a “little steeper hill to climb” than those who have taken a more traditional path to the council. But as he gets up to speed on the city’s inner-workings, Anderson touts 40-plus years of experience in the real estate and residential development business.

Aside from his new role on the city council, Anderson stays busy by managing the portfolio of the senior housing business that was founded by his late father-in-law. Any energy that’s left, Anderson says, goes toward family – he has eight grandchildren – and to a physical training regimen that readies his body for competitive track in the United States Track and Field Masters division.

“You don’t come across too many sprinters in my age category,” Anderson said. The unusual hobby, he continued, began when “I wondered a few years ago, can you still do that? What do you think?”

Last year, Anderson entertained another question as he pondered his next step in life. His wife, Mindy Pattee, remembers him saying, “I wonder what would happen if I ran for city council.”

While Kevin Staunton won re-election, Anderson beat out incumbent Bob Stewart, tapping into angst over the pace and scale of redevelopment in the city. While his professional focus is on his family’s New Hope-based business, Anderson also brings to the table experience managing a large regional real estate office in Edina.

After campaigning against the status quo, Anderson knows he and his new colleagues on the dais won’t always agree.

“Nor should we. That’s not important,” he said. “What’s really important is we all come to a good understanding of the problem and solve it cooperatively and respectfully.”

Nor does Anderson expect to win over all of his constituents. “Thirty percent of people won’t like what you do as an elected official,” he said.

In terms of popularity among Edina residents, though, it should help that he is closely related to several of his constituents. All eight of his grandchildren live in Edina.

“We’re blessed in many ways,” Anderson said. “ … We’re just a close family, and we believe in family life and our values are that we hang together and we support each other,” he said.

Anderson likely wouldn’t be living in Minnesota at all if it weren’t for his wife. A native of St. Louis, he said he met Pattee through mutual friends in Colorado. Pattee returned home to Minnesota, and eventually, Anderson followed.

He doesn’t discount the influence of his own parents, but Anderson credits his late father-in-law, James Pattee, for informing his philosophy on aging.

“His influence in terms of observing what you can do was a big eye-opener for me,” Anderson said. “I was skiing with him when he was 80.”

At 70, Anderson serves as a counterexample to the idea that aging means slowing down.

“You see a lot of people who are feeling that they’re kind of programmed in some way to take a step back and not be as active and not do as much,” Anderson said, hoping to prove “you don’t have to do that; we just think we do.”

As he expounds on his track-and-field pursuits, it’s easy to imagine those same terms applying to a city council campaign.

“I think that most people can accomplish pretty much what they set their minds on,” he said, going on to describe his inner-monologue as he considered running track as a senior.

“OK, this will be fun. Here’s a challenge,” he thought. “And I was able to beat a few guys, so that was good.”

His wife knows her husband would have kept himself occupied whether he won or not. “He’s going to be busy doing something,” Pattee said. “ … I don’t want him sitting down on the couch watching TV.”

To demonstrate his commitment to the more active pursuit of policymaking, Anderson cites his Edina-centric family.

“We’re invested here. We love it here. We’re jacked about the whole thing.”

– Follow Andrew Wig on Twitter @EdinaSunCurrent

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