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Longtime mayor retiring: Bidding farewell to Mayor Gene Winstead

The City of Bloomington is approaching the end of an era. After 20 years, Mayor Gene Winstead will retire. January 2 marks the end of his fifth term. Few mayors have served so long or done so much for their communities. Winstead’s leadership was exemplary and the decisions he made will positively impact generations to come.

From commissioner to mayor

In the early 1980s, Winstead’s record of service began as a Bloomington Crime Prevention Association member and a business representative on a Housing and Redevelopment Association committee focused on the transformation and redevelopment of 98th and Lyndale. That interest led to him serving as chair of the Planning Commission during Mall of America’s development. In 1995, he was elected to the City Council.

In 1999, he was elected mayor. After 35 years of public service, Winstead has become part of the fabric of the community and has helped shape Bloomington. 

During his tenure, Winstead saw many major projects through completion. Among his successes are the opportunity housing ordinance, citywide garbage and recycling collection, workplace smoking ban and construction of Civic Plaza and Center for the Arts. While the achievements under Winstead’s watch are too numerous to list, a few projects stand out.

Infrastructure: Roads and water

Through Winstead’s guidance, the importance of maintaining roads, sewers and water systems—those unseen structural essentials—has been an ongoing priority. The City looks after nearly 350 center-lane miles of streets. Work continues year-round for snow removal, sweeping, crack sealing, street patching and structural maintenance to ensure streets are serviceable and safe. Additionally, Bloomington’s water continues to surpass all state and federal requirements for safety, and received first-place honors in state and national water taste tests.

Development: Bloomington Civic Plaza

In 2003, Civic Plaza opened, including the City’s Police Department offices. Traditional City offices operate alongside community art organizations in the Center for the Arts. Winstead was a proponent for the innovative design and construction of Civic Plaza to benefit all of Bloomington.

Redevelopment: Old Cedar Avenue bridge area

The City Council ended a 20-year debate over the trail link between Hennepin and Dakota Counties with its vote to invest $12.9 million to fix the Historic Cedar Avenue Bridge. Winstead regarded the project as a chance to highlight community history and to expand outdoor recreational opportunities.

Strong financials: AAA bond ratings

Financial excellence has always been at the forefront of Winstead’s decisions. Bloomington is one of 37 cities with three triple-A bond ratings from Moody’s, Standard & Poors and Fitch. The positive influence strong bond ratings make on the cost of borrowing, long-term financial security, development potential and the City’s reputation cannot be overstated.

Firsts in public health

In 2004, Bloomington became the first metro-area city to ban smoking in workplaces, public areas, bars and restaurants. Other cities followed, along with the State of Minnesota. In 2014, the City Council passed an ordinance banning electronic cigarettes in most public places.

Record of exemplary service

Bloomington has earned a reputation of providing high-quality City services at an affordable price. Results from this year’s National Citizen Survey™ revealed 86% of respondents rated the quality of life in Bloomington as excellent or good. The city has thriving commercial districts and celebrated neighborhoods. Residents take pride in their community.