Tim Bildsoe brings his experiences on the Plymouth City Council to the Ward 3 race
Tim Bildsoe said he and his wife “thought it was time to enjoy a different lifestyle” when about two years ago they sold their home in Plymouth — a suburb with about one-fifth the population of Minneapolis — and moved 15 miles east to the North Loop neighborhood.
Bildsoe was just coming off the last of his four terms and 16 years on the Plymouth City Council, and it didn’t take him long to shift into a familiar role in his new city. After attending a few North Loop Neighborhood Association meetings, he ran for and won a seat on the association’s board, for which he now serves as president.
But Bildsoe isn’t stopping there. In June, he became the latest candidate to announce a run for the Ward 3 City Council seat Jacob Frey will vacate after his run for mayor.
In an interview earlier this month, Bildsoe emphasized the importance of cities delivering on basic services like street maintenance and public safety while making cost-effective use of taxpayer dollars. And he said his nuts-and-bolts experience as a city elected official sets him apart in the race.
Asked how he was drawn back into politics, Bildsoe said it had to do with the poor condition of the North Loop’s streets. He dug into the city’s capital improvement projects schedule hoping to see repairs were imminent — and when he didn’t, he reached out to Frey’s office.
“It became clear to me that the basic services that the city should be providing were not in the dialogue,” he said. “And so, I thought, this is an opportunity for me to bring my experience to the City of Minneapolis.”
Bildsoe was a delegate to the Minneapolis DFL City Convention in July, but his decision to enter the race came too late to vie for the party’s endorsement in Ward 3. That was won by technology consultant Steve Fletcher in May.
Among Bildsoe’s priorities if elected is improving safety downtown.
“I don’t think it’s pervasive through the whole downtown area, but there are certainly some parts of downtown that have safety issues, where people don’t feel comfortable,” he said.
Bildsoe said he would seek ways to encourage more activity on downtown streets, and he questioned the city’s strategy of closing parts of 1st Avenue to most motor-vehicle traffic around bar close.
“I think more people, more vehicles, more activity has a way of mitigating some of the safety concerns,” he said.
As someone who both lives and works downtown, Bildsoe said, he supports continued improvements to the city’s biking and walking infrastructure, and he would advocate for better bus service in his ward. But the city’s transition to a 21st century transportation network can’t come “at the expense of roads that automobiles can drive on, as well,” he added.
“We also have to acknowledge that cars are not going to go away, and so there needs to be parking available,” he said. “… When a developer builds a building, if they can add more parking, I think it’s something that they should be allowed to do, and the city discourages that.”
Judy Johnson, a former Plymouth mayor and current member of the suburb’s city council, described Bildsoe as a “great communicator” who applied financial acumen and a problem-solving approach to the job of a councilmember.
“A lot of people talk about politics, which is great, but he gets involved,” Johnson said.
While serving as a city councilmember, Bildsoe launched the Plymouth Financial Extra, a section of the city newsletter that every spring detailed the city’s finances, in which Johnson said he combined his financial expertise with his drive to increase transparency in local government. In 2015, the extra won a Savvy Award from the City-County Communications & Marketing Association.
“Fiscally, I’m probably more conservative,” he said. “I look at taxpayer dollars.”
Bildsoe said Minneapolis property taxes are “extremely high compared to the rest of the state,” something he would keep an eye on if elected.
“One way to lift folks economically is to be very sensitive to property taxes, making sure that money the city collects goes to good use,” he said.
Bildsoe works in insurance for Wells Fargo. The company in June announced an agreement to sell its commercial insurance business to USI Insurance Services, a deal that is expected to be completed in November — which is also when Ward 3 voters will decide if they want Bildsoe to represent them at City Hall.
“It’s going to be an interesting month for me, career-wise,” he said. “I’ll either be working for USI or the citizens of Ward 3.”