Savick strikes gavel for last time
In January, the city of Wells will have a new mayor.
With that comes an end to a short era and a career in politics.
And, to think it all started over a cup of coffee. In this case it probably was several pots.
Shannon Savick, the city’s first-ever woman mayor, struck the gavel for the last time to end a council meeting on Dec. 13.
“I’d like to thank all the citizens who cared enough to attend council meetings,” she says. “They should continue going to meetings and let the council know what they expect from them.”
Savick’s advice of letting people know what you think and feel may have propelled her into public service.
Having lived in Wells for less than a year, Savick and a group of women began meeting mornings for coffee at a local cafe.
Everything you can imagine was discussed, even politics.
No one was happy with how the City Council was functioning.
After hearing about all the ills of city government, Savick suggested and convinced the “coffee group” they could get a candidate of their choice elected.
“They all went silent and just stared at me. I said, ‘no you don’t, not me,'” recalls Savick.
Being a newcomer to town, Savick didn’t think she could win.
It took about a week to convince her to pay a $2 filing fee and run for a seat on the council.
In 2008, midway through a four-year term Savick decides a change is needed.
Savick says the council isn’t listening to concerns of residents or explaining its decisions.
Also, she’s not being allowed to serve on any committees because she lacks experience.
“I don’t think the mayor liked me. He didn’t like that I would question things,” she says. “Because the people of Wells elected me I just thought he should respect me.”
The incumbent mayor decides not to seek re-election. So, the election is between Savick and Diane Dulas.
“It was never a goal of mine to be mayor. I didn’t care who won, we just needed a change,” says Savick.
Of the state’s 854 mayors, she would be one of 106 females serving.
The newly elected mayor’s first order of business — opening committee meetings to the public that were being “illegally closed.”
Other accomplishments Savick is proud of include creating an environment where there’s more long-range planning, better cooperation between the different departments and a more open government.
A glimpse at Savick’s resume and you’ll understand her successes.
A 1958 graduate of Bricelyn High School, she earned a bachelor of science degree in physics and math from the University of Minnesota, Mankato.
“Like my dad, I was always able to fix anything. I guess I like to know how things run and the science behind it,” she says.
Several years later, Savick received an M.B.A. from Clark University in Worcester, Mass., and she put her “fix-it abilities” to work in the business world.
Her nearly 20 years involved sales, marketing and management consulting that helped generate millions in revenue for corporations.
Savick admits the past two years on the council have been rocky, with an investigation of two city employees and a financial settlement with a former council member.
“There are some things I could have handled better, been more politically correct,” she says. “Despite some negatives in the past, the city is in a good position to move forward. I’m really excited about its future.”
Councilman Steve Burns called Savick an advocate for senior citizens by, “raising the council’s consciousness about issues that affected them.”
“Shannon encouraged open dialogue on all issues, making sure all sides were heard and aired out,” he adds.
Savick’s decision not to seek another two-year term was due in part to her husband’s ill-health.
She also is a “hobby artist’ and wants to try and take those skills to the next level.
“I’ve always had a passion for art, even as a kid. I want to see if my stuff is marketable,” she says.
Her watercolor and acrylic paintings are mainly portraits and of landscapes with people or animals.
Savick has completed many paintings but has never sold any, only given them away as gifts.
So, she has no idea how much to sell one for and some take several hours to do.
“They have to be worth at least the hourly minimum wage and the cost of the materials it takes,” she says.
From time to time Savick may attend a council meeting to give her two cents worth.
But, more than likely she’ll do most of her expressing on a canvas. And, you can bet she’ll probably be pretty good at it.