Elizabeth (Beth) Merwin, Zimmerman City Council

Elizabeth (Beth) Merwin

Age: 53

Family: My best friend & partner for 23 years- Jeff Smith

Daughter: Alanna Smith Tuttle, married to Milton Tuttle, Jr. They have 2 children- Milton Tuttle III (Trey) & Ivy.

Daughter: Arin Smith. She has 2 daughters- Ke’Aris & Paris,

Stepson: Cole Smith & his wife Jenna. They have one dog- Chloe.

Stepdaughter: Kelly Smith Matthews, married to Bill Matthews. They have 4 children- Olivia, Will, Elizabeth & Kathryn

My Pets: 2 cats & a horse.

Occupation: I am an Associate Broker with Acuity Group Real Estate Professionals. Our main office is located in Elk River, but I primarily work from my home office in Zimmerman. I have been licensed for 27 years representing buyers, sellers & builders. I have an extensive background in the sales & marketing of senior townhome communities. For the past 3 years I have been helping distressed homeowners avoid foreclosure by opting to “Short Sale”. I am a trained Certified Distressed Property Expert.

Previous civic and community involvement: I was one of the founders of the Suburban Northwest Builders Association representing Elk River & the surrounding area. I organized the first Parade of Homes in Sherburne County, chaired various committees & served as an officer for 6 years.

I have been a member of the Zimmerman Chamber of Commerce representing Marv’s Minnow & now Acuity Group Real Estate Professionals.

I am a member of the National Association of Realtors, MN Association of Realtors & North Metro Board of Realtors.

1. What prompted you to run for the Zimmerman City Council?

I had never experienced City government until we purchased Marv’s Minnows, so I had never thought about how complex running a city must be & was intrigued to learn more about it. When the elections were being held 4 years ago, I was not in a place in my life where I could make a commitment. Now that we have sold our business, I have the time to give back to the community.

2. What makes you qualified to be a member of the City Council?

I have lived in this area for 15 years- the past 5 years in the city of Zimmerman. I work here, I have a small business here and my grandchildren go to school here. I have a lot invested here & a genuine desire to see our City thrive! I believe I am approachable, a good listener & an effective problem solver.

3. What are the top three issues facing the City of Zimmerman?

1. Declining business growth

2. Loss of revenue due to distressed properties

3. Deterioration of the physical appeal of the community

4. What distinguishes you from your opponents and makes you a better choice for the position?

My career is such that I am well informed & involved with the housing/economic issues facing our community. I am bound by a Code of Ethics as a realtor, so I operate with integrity, honesty & transparency.

I also live with the trials & tribulations of being a small business owner & can share some insights about why we are not seeing new business ventures moving in.

5. What decisions of the council have you liked, and which ones have you disliked?

I am very pleased with the new improvements to Fremont Avenue. I support the continued research into the profitability of the leachate project. Selfishly, I didn’t like having to pay the sewer hook up in our store, but I really liked how accommodating & helpful the City employees are in general!

6. What are your thoughts on the groundswell of support for an auditorium in Zimmerman. What role should the city play in this endeavor. What role would you play in this endeavor.

We all want our kids to have the best resources & facilities. After doing research on the internet regarding this proposal, it is evident that this idea is just in its infancy, but I have no opposition to hearing more.

7. What should the city’s role be in improving transportation in the short-term and the long term.

I don’t see transportation as being a necessary discussion at this point. We live out here for a reason & I don’t expect to have every convenience available to me when I choose to live where life is a little more calm.

8. What will your approach be to balancing the city’s budget. Under what conditions would you support a tax increase.

It is hard to imagine “willingly” support a tax increase. The distressed property issues & stagnant business growth impact the revenues that help make it a possibility to balance any budget- Zimm does not stand alone. I am optimistic that this situation will be rectified in time. I believe the City is doing a great job of studying the budget & researching revenue options.

9. What are the needs of the youth in Zimmerman, and what can be done about them?

We have playgrounds, park areas, ice arena & sport fields that are well maintained. We have an abundance of natural resources such as the Wildlife Refuge with hiking & biking trails, camping & numerous lakes. Our youth need to experience this precious commodity located right in our back yards! We continue to provide a safe environment & be thanful for involved parents!

10. How would you assess the level of partnership between the City of Zimmerman and other governmental agencies. Do you see a need for more collaboration, and, if so, where?

I assess the level of partnership between the City of Zimmerman & other governmental agencies as being outstanding. I don’t believe there could ever be too much collaboration, but don’t know that they are falling short anywhere.

11. What needs to be done to support economic development in the City of Zimmerman?

My suggestion is to re-create the character & environment of Zimmerman to be a weekend destination for metropolitan families & outdoorsman. Strong promotion of the Wildlife Refuge, the lakes, boutique shopping, flea markets, farmer’s market, outdoor casual dining for lunch & supper- we need to be an event! Fremont Avenue has a great start with its cute shops & updates.

12. What would you like to be able to say about Zimmerman in 10 years that can’t be said now?

We survived the recession & our residents are proud to live in a small community that boasts camaraderie. We have attracted new fun businesses for ourselves & the outside population to frequent, our schools are better than ever. Our homes are valuable again because people are choosing to live here in the country where life is just a little quieter- just the way we want it!