The Granite Falls City Council welcomed their newest member, Sharon Pazi Zea, during their regular meeting on Monday, November 18. Pazi Zea is filling the vacancy left by the resignation earlier this year of Sarina Otaibi. In addition to being the only woman on the council, Pazi Zea is also the first member of the Upper Sioux Community to ever serve on the Granite Council.

“I felt it was time for the representation of USC members on the city council since we have many USC families that live within the city limits,” said Pazi Zea, explaining why she decided to serve. She added that her concern for what happens in the city of Granite Falls and the future of its residents were other factors in her decision. Highlighting her perspective as an Upper Sioux member, Pazi Zea explained that “diversity is an essential part of an inclusive community, and I want to contribute to the process.”

Pazi Zea’s Dakota name is Pazi which means “yellow head woman.” She was born in Minneapolis and lived on River Road as a child. Her mother is Lucille (Lerschen) Bennett and her father is George Siemieniewski from Sacred Heart. Pazi Zea’s siblings are Brad Lerschen, Kelly Ham, Rochell Hubert, Delina Jenkins, and Wayne Siemieniewski (Deceased).

Pazi Zea is married to Gary Zea. She has four children; Drew (Kristina) Brockman, Shakeen(Edward) Schommer, Steven (Sarah) Brockman, Nalen Brockman. She also has seven grandchildren plus one on the way. Currently, Pazi Zea is a full-time online student at Arizona State University.

The new councilperson brings a broad range of professional experiences to the Granite Council. Her prior professional positions include serving as member of the Upper Sioux Community Board of Trustees, Native Non-profit Director, IT Manager for Gaming and Government at Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians (MI), a Health Director, and a chairperson of a Housing Commission.

In addition to her professional accomplishments, Pazi Zea also has experience working on issues relating to diversity and inclusion. For example, she has worked with the Blandin Foundation Reservation Community Leadership program, the Native Nations Rebuilders program, the Institute for Executive Leadership from the University of St. Thomas, and serving on the Upper Sioux Community Board of Trustees.

Pazi Zea was appointed by the Council to serve out the remainder of former council member Otaibi’s term. She says that she is looking “forward to working with the Mayor, City Manager, City Council Members, and community members on policy, issues, and events.” Pazi Zea explained that her initial goal is to better familiarize herself with ongoing council goals and plans. “My ongoing goal is to bring a voice to the table that has been missing in the past,” said Pazi Zea in reference to being the first USC member to serve on the council. She added that her “priorities are to build or facilitate avenues to support diversity, inclusion, and communication. I am also very interested in sustainability, lowering our ecological footprint, and health initiatives.”

After being sworn in by City Clerk Joan Taylor, Pazi Zea gave a thank you to those family, friends, and everyone else who encouraged her to apply for the position. She also gave a shout out to Otaibi for her “service and support.”