A 35-year love-hate affair - East Valley Tribune: Mesa

A 35-year love-hate affair

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Posted: Sunday, September 18, 2005 6:05 am | Updated: 9:47 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Marilynn Wennerstrom has had quite a run with the city of Mesa.

She’s sued the city after it rejected referendum petitions, was locked out of a City Council finance meeting earlier this year and continues to produce verbatim council meeting transcripts.

She’s quick to remember the date of a meeting — and often how each council member voted. And if she stumbles, she can find the information in one of her files.

More than 35 years ago, she brought a complaint about a neighbor’s code violation to City Hall. She and her husband worked their way through city bureaucracy before being told the issue would be discussed at a City Council meeting.

So Wennerstrom showed up, but the discussion never came. Nonetheless, she went to meeting after meeting and eventually got hooked.

"For the next five years, I had a better attendance record than any members of the council did," she said. "I finally got the problem resolved."

Wennerstrom said that in the early 1970s, reaction to her newspaper letter-writing campaigns was not positive. Wennerstrom said that today she would typically be referred to as an "activist" or "watchdog." But then, she said, she was called a "busybody."

But she continued on, keeping an eye on the council actions. Today, she either attends meetings in person or watches on television. Sometimes she addresses the council; other times she sits quietly and takes notes.

"What I love about Marilynn is that she is so smart and always fun to talk with, even though we don’t always agree," Mesa Vice Mayor Claudia Walters said. "She studies things, digs deep into things. . . . I think people like that keep you on your toes."

Wennerstrom said going to meetings helped her keep her intellect going after she gave up teaching.

Wennerstrom moved to Mesa from Chicago in 1964. She and her late husband, Stan, have four children — some of whom, she said, have caught the letter-writing bug.

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