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Erik Burgess, Published October 26 2013

Kevin Shores: The one who’s a dreamer and a bookworm

MOORHEAD - It doesn’t matter the topic. If there’s a book about it, Kevin Shores wants to read it.

Shores is running for mayor this year, marking his third mayoral campaign since 2001. But when he’s not campaigning, he’s likely got his ears tuned intently to an audiobook.

Shores is blind but says he’s listened to probably 1,000 audiobooks or podcasts this year alone.

“I love being well-rounded,” he said in an interview last week. “I claim I’m the stupidest man I know because the more that I learn, the more I learn I don’t know anything compared to the vast knowledge that’s out there.”

Shores was born and raised in St. Paul and moved around the Midwest a bit before joining the Navy and shipping off to the Persian Gulf for three months. Joining the military was a path laid by his father, an Army veteran.

It was that short time in the Persian Gulf that would change his life forever, as Shores said he became afflicted with Gulf War Illness, a chronic disorder caused by exposure to chemical weapons in the Gulf War.

After returning to the states, Shores completed cosmetology school, but in the early ’90s, he started getting sick.

Gulf War Illness would eventually take away his ability to walk – he’s been in a wheelchair since 1996 – and his eyesight in 2007, preventing him from finishing the bachelor’s degree he had started at the University of Minnesota.

He had planned to be a teacher of Native American Studies, and studying at Minnesota State University Moorhead is what first brought him to the area.

But Shores doesn’t like to say that his disability hinders him, and he said he recently decided to finish his degree. He also hasn’t let his disabilities prevent him as he “rolls” – not runs – for mayor.

“I can’t walk. So if I can’t walk, I can’t run, so I always claim I’m ‘rolling’ for mayor,” he jokes.

Shores has been married twice and has four children. Two of his daughters attend elementary school in Moorhead, and they are the reason he continues to run for public office, he said.

“I want Moorhead to be a better place for my daughters,” he said.

For the kindergartener, that means she wants her dad as mayor to build the world’s biggest outdoor waterpark in Moorhead. The fifth-grader wants a shorter school year.

“I explained to them that I don’t think I get that kind of power,” Shores said.