Messages from the Council Chair

The humanizing effect of communities

January 2020

Charlie ZelleA lot of people know me as a bus guy; Jefferson Lines is my family’s business. Or they know me as a roads guy because I was the MnDOT commissioner. Both of those things are true, but what I’m most passionate about is serving people and building strong communities. I’m excited to be here because all the work we do at the Met Council is about livability and prosperity.

We operate one of the cleanest and most cost-effective wastewater treatment systems in the nation because it keeps our region economically competitive and preserves Minnesota’s natural beauty. We have 54,000 acres of regional parks and 400 miles of trails to enjoy.

Everyone in our region deserves to have a home they can afford — but as a society, we’re not there yet, and the economic and sociological trends look even more challenging. That’s why the Met Council operates an innovative housing authority. People and families can’t prosper if they don’t have affordable housing.

We connect the region with one of the best-operated transit systems in the nation. Mobility is essential for a thriving metropolis.

Everything we do at the Met Council has one common, long-term goal: creating a great quality of life for all the people in our region. Transit and wastewater treatment may seem like they are disparate activities, but they are essential components of the formula for building regional prosperity.

President Abe Lincoln once said that if he was given six hours to cut down a tree, he’d spend the first four hours sharpening the axe. Abe believed in planning and so do I. No matter how different each of our work units are at the Council, we all are committed to long-term planning. It’s in our DNA.

Throughout my career I have been awed by the humanizing effect of communities at their best, where people become aware of each other, working together, playing together, and thriving together. The Met Council is a place where we can provide a foundation for that experience.

Planning, research, parks, transit, water quality, and housing: they’re all part of one mission. I’m looking forward to working with old friends, building new partnerships, and advancing a better region for future generations.