Former City Councilor Mike Luce filed paperwork Monday to run for one of two open seats on the Shakopee City Council.
Luce served on the council from 2013 to 2018. His term was extended from the standard four years to five when the council voted in 2015 to move from odd-year to even-year election cycles.
In 2018, Luce opted not to run for reelection to his council seat and instead ran for mayor, challenging Mayor Bill Mars’s bid for reelection. Of five mayoral candidates, Luce came in third with 11% of the vote.
“I believe it’s every citizen’s duty to help their fellow man when and where they are able,” Luce said. “I have some unfinished business with the city council, which is made easier as a part of the council.”
Luce went on to explain he thinks the city needs to devote more resources to the fun-for-all accessible playground at Lions Park. Luce was on the playground task force when it was first envisioned and constructed and is passionate about the playground to the point of donating more than $2,000 of his personal funds to the initial project. In 2018, he began speaking to stakeholders about funding for an expansion to the park, but the council voted to censure him for attempting to raise funds for a project that hadn’t been approved by the city council.
“Three years ago I secured pledges totaling 30-plus percent of the needed funds for an additional 10,000-square-foot addition to the current playground,” Luce said. “The council, with its infinite wisdom, denied the additional playground space.”
With so few communities having playgrounds like the one at Lions Park, which is also accessible for people who use wheelchairs, Luce said Shakopee needs to be expanding on it and marketing it as the gem it is.
“I believe that those among us who are trapped in bodies that restrict basic physical and cognitive abilities need as much help as we are able to provide them,” he said. “Think about the public value of providing a child the equipment to become physically mobile and not needing a wheelchair or other assistance for mobility.”
Luce said he also has concerns that the current council is being misguided by city staff. He shared similar concerns during his time on the council. In 2017, Luce was censured by a 3-1 council vote for inappropriate conduct, including micromanaging staff to the point some city employees expressed feelings of intimidation.
Luce provided a recent example of the 46-unit affordable housing complex for families experiencing long-term homelessness, saying there must be a more fitting location than where the building was approved — at the intersection of Fourth Avenue East and Sarazin Street, near the site of the current Knights of Columbus Event Center.
“The first thing that came to mind when I first heard about the shelter was ‘if you build it they will come.’ Homeless from Minneapolis will seek out this new facility. Shakopee has somewhat small number of homeless,” he said. “There has to be a better location for a shelter.”
According to the 2018 Minnesota Homeless Study, 134 people in Scott and Carver counties were experiencing homelessness the day data was gathered. The report does not include estimates of the uncounted or unidentified homeless population.
Since completing his term on the council in 2018, Luce has stayed out of the public spotlight and has spent his time volunteering in the community. Most recently, he raised thousands of dollars to provide an ongoing weekly donation of 300 boxes of cereal to the CAP Agency.
There are six candidates for city council, including Luce, with the local office filing period open through the end of business Tuesday. Other candidates include incumbents Matt Lehman and Jay Whiting and challengers Nurul (Arif) Khan, Jim DuLaney, and Tyler Pautsch.