Mounds View official recognized for 20 years of service


Sherry Gunn

“Tenacious” is a word Mounds View City Administrator Nyle Zikmund uses to describe council member Sherry Gunn, who was recently honored by the nonprofit Minnesota Women in City Government.

Gunn, 67, was presented with the organization’s leadership award on June 27 at the League of Minnesota Cities’ annual conference in Duluth. 

Zikmund, who nominated Gunn for the award, says coming up with a list of projects she has championed in her almost 20 years of city involvement was no problem. 

“Sometimes she just gets deadpan serious, ‘Well, we just need to do these things.’ Or, ‘When are we going to get this done?’” Zikmund explains. “It’s like, ‘We’ll put it on the list, council member Gunn!’”

Gunn first got involved with the city back in 2000, when she helped organize a fundraiser at the Mounds View YMCA, which is based out of the city’s community center. The money Gunn helped raise was used to provide scholarships for area youth to attend YMCA programs.

“I was a single mom. I wanted to make sure that the kids had decent parks to play in and programs that they could go to,” Gunn says.

She went on to serve on the parks and recreation and planning commissions before first being elected to the council over a decade ago.  

Over the last two decades, Zikmund says Gunn has continued to advocate for the city’s parks and its youth. “Sherry’s just been tireless.”

Notably, Zikmund says Gunn has helped Mounds View stay active in the GreenStep Cities program, a statewide sustainability initiative. He says she’s advocated for environmentally friendly measures across town, from pollinator gardens to the solar panels on the roof of the community center. 

“Her other big focus is youth. She’s a retired paraprofessional from the school district,” he says. “In the years I’ve known her, she’s worked with the behaviorally-challenged student population and developed an affinity for helping those youth navigate society.”

Before retiring, Gunn worked as a special education paraprofessional in the Mounds View Public Schools, spending the bulk of her time at Irondale High School.

One of her recent youth-focused projects has been a splash pad, a type of play fountain designed for children to run around in, which will soon be up and running near City Hall. Gunn says she first had the idea, oddly enough, while at a previous League of Minnesota Cities’ conference in St. Cloud.

“They had a huge, beautiful park just on the edge of town and in that park, they had this big splash pad. Kids were having a ball in it,” says Gunn. “I talked to the other council members and went before the Parks and Recreation Commission and said, ‘Listen guys, we need to have a splash pad.’ We can figure out the funding, this is an amenity that would really be a one-up for our community.”

She says feedback on the project has been overwhelmingly positive, and notes that now families won’t have to travel outside of the city to use splash pads in neighboring towns. 

Zikmund said in his nomination that Gunn is also passionate about code enforcement. He says she works to make sure everyone is educated about and compliant with city rules, in order to maintain the community for all residents.

Outside of her council work, Gunn is involved with the Mounds View Police Foundation and will take over as president of the Mounds View Lions Club this year. While being in local government has opened up doors to serve on regional and statewide committees, Gunn says she prefers to spend her time working at the city level.

“I want to stay local, I want to work on our community,” she says.

 

–Bridget Kranz can be reached at bkranz@lillienews.com or 651-748-7825.

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