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Her planning résumé has won her the support of Council Member Gary Schiff, the city’s zoning and planning committee chair, who is leaving the council after an unsuccessful mayoral bid. “She’ll be walking into that seat with more [qualifications] to chair zoning and planning than I did 12 years ago,” said Schiff.
Tuthill, 64, has made several decisions that put her at odds with the ward’s renters and younger residents (the percentage of renters has grown with redistricting, which brought the Whittier neighborhood into Ward 10). Her campaign often is asked about her efforts in 2011 to impose new restrictions on restaurant patios and rooftops. She later pulled it after bar and restaurant owners packed a hearing in opposition. A year later, she opposed rezoning an area on Lyndale Avenue to make way for the city’s first Trader Joe’s.
Tuthill, who owned a store on Hennepin Avenue before joining the council, says the noise ordinance won valuable concessions from business owners — bike racks, taxi stands and extra police patrols.
“It was a little rocky, but it’s been a win-win and I’m really happy with it,” she said. As for Trader Joe’s, she said she was merely following the neighborhood’s wishes.
Opponents say Tuthill has stood in the way of innovation. They cite a brusque voice mail she left for a man who wanted to open a microbrewery — which was then lambasted on the Internet — and her initial opposition to people proposing open streets, a festival-like event that has since become very popular. She is now a fan of open streets and said her concerns were about emergency-vehicle access.
“I think there’s a sense that Council Member Tuthill has been very reactive and quick to say no to new ideas,” Bender said.
Known by many as simply “Meg,” Tuthill also thinks Ward 10 needs more consistent representation. It has had three new council members since 2001, one for each city election.
“She knows who, what, where, what to do,” said supporter Dwight M. Carlson, owner of Salon Levante on Hennepin.