Wentworth Avenue in West St. Paul Needs Trails on Both Sides

In 2019 Dakota County plans to rebuild a stretch of Wentworth Avenue in West St. Paul from Delaware to Humboldt. The project will add trails to Wentworth, including a trail on the entire north side of the corridor and the south side from Charlton to Livingston.

At the last city council meeting on Nov. 26, the public hearing consisted mostly of complaints from local residents about adding sewer hookups and the associated assessment costs. The council seemed willing to drop the sewer requirement from the project, though some council members wanted to debate the necessity of adding trails on both sides of Wentworth before approving the project.

Ultimately they voted to continue the matter to the next meeting on Dec. 10 (when they’ll also be readdressing the site plans for Garlough).

So given that there may be continued debate on the project and the public comment period is closed, let’s look at the rationale for including trail on both sides of Wentworth. Continue reading Wentworth Avenue in West St. Paul Needs Trails on Both Sides

West St. Paul City Council Fails to Approve Garlough Site Plan

On Monday, Nov. 26, the West St. Paul city council considered a site plan for construction at Garlough Environmental Magnet School as part of the 2018 school district bond referendum improvements. In addition to classroom and facility additions, the plans include adding a second driveway and expanding the southern parking lot to create a separate drop off/pick up loop, a change that should vastly improve morning/ afternoon congestion and safety issues.

Garlough site plan
The Garlough site plan, showing the separate bus loop and parent drop off/pick up loop.

But the city council failed to approve the site plan over concerns that Garlough doesn’t have enough parking. Continue reading West St. Paul City Council Fails to Approve Garlough Site Plan

West St. Paul Wins: 2018 Election

After feeling somewhat despondent after the 2016 election, I decided to focus on local politics. I couldn’t do much about things at the national level, but I thought maybe I could make a difference at the local level.

I wasn’t alone.

An army of volunteers and supporters came forward, and together we worked for change. People tried to join city committees, we supported a local trail, put on a bike rodeo—we got involved.

Then the sexism controversy exploded and West St. Paul made national news. And not in a good way.

People were already starting to pay attention, but that issue galvanized people like never before. A progressive advocacy group, Women of West St. Paul formed, and they organized voter registration efforts, rides to the polls, and multiple candidate forums.

On April 23, 2018, West St. Paul’s first female mayor, Jenny Halverson, expressed frustration at what she saw as sexism, and declared, “This will not be forgotten, folks.”

On Nov. 6, 2018, it was not forgotten. Continue reading West St. Paul Wins: 2018 Election

The 2018 Midterm Post-Mortem

After the 2016 election, I not only felt defeated, but I felt raw and shocked and a bit stupid. I hadn’t done a damn thing to advocate for the causes I cared about, so it was no wonder they lost.

That was a bitter lesson.

After the 2018 election, I feel empowered. Winning certainly helps. But I was also involved in these races. We had major wins in our local races, which is where I spent most of my volunteer time. And I think that sense of empowerment is greater than any sense of victory. Because I also know what empowered loss feels like. We lost a hard primary, one where I thought I would regret all the effort wasted.

But you know what? A loss isn’t a wasted effort. All that energy, all that enthusiasm, all those connections—they can build something that lasts, even in defeat.

So let’s do a “quick” (ha!) morning day after review of the 2018 election. (I laugh because I was awake until 3 a.m. last night, unable to sleep as all the storylines kept playing in my head.)

Blogging My Ballot

Not to brag (OK, I’m totally bragging), but every race I supported when I blogged my ballot won last night. Every. Single. One. Continue reading The 2018 Midterm Post-Mortem

Blogging the Ballot: West St. Paul 2018 Voter’s Guide

For the past several years I’ve been blogging about local elections. I’ve tried to stay quiet about broader politics and avoid stupid comments, but this year I couldn’t help myself. Well, I hope I avoided most stupid comments, but I couldn’t stay quiet about what was happening in our democracy.

So this year, instead of just blogging about West St. Paul’s races, I found myself blogging about the entire ballot. From city council to U.S. Senator, I covered it all. 18 posts in 18 days (plus a lot of posts before that).

Let me offer an obvious disclaimer: This is my opinion. I’m biased. Take it for what it’s worth. Do your own research, make up your own mind. Then vote. Please vote. Continue reading Blogging the Ballot: West St. Paul 2018 Voter’s Guide

2018 Minnesota Secretary of State: John Howe vs. Steve Simon

In a democratic country where the people are supposed to have a voice in government, the vote should be sacred. It is a right that we should protect and encourage. We need to ensure only citizens are voting, but there should be no other hurdles to the voting booth.

That’s why voting for the secretary of state is pretty important. They safeguard our elections and are the frontlines of democracy.

The State of Voting

I’m not a fan of anything that makes it harder to vote. There have been efforts around the country, from requiring IDs to closing polling stations, to make it harder to vote. I shouldn’t have to remind people that these are similar to Jim Crow-era efforts to stifle the black vote through poll taxes, tests, intimidation, and all-out cheating.

Let’s be clear: Voter fraud is not a widespread problem. When Trump talked about millions of illegal votes, he was making it up. Study after study has shown this to be true.

It’s voter suppression, plain and simple. And anytime a political party wants to see fewer people vote, you should be worried.

Instead of making it harder to vote, we should be doing everything we can to make it easier to vote. I’m thrilled that Minnesota has same-day registration and now no-excuse absentee and early voting. I’m a big fan of even more efforts to make it easier to vote, such as automatic voter registration and a national holiday on election day (though honestly, going to work is a nice distraction on election day).

So I’m in favor of any candidate who supports making it easier to vote (Spoiler Alert: That’s Steve Simon.) Continue reading 2018 Minnesota Secretary of State: John Howe vs. Steve Simon

2018 Minnesota State Auditor: Julie Blaha vs. Pam Myhra

What does the auditor do? They’re in charge of making sure local governments spend their money properly. Auditor is supposed to be a role focused on transparency and good government. That’s something we value in Minnesota and historically have had.

Rebecca Otto is the current auditor and has served since 2007. She opted to run for governor and dropped out after losing the DFL endorsement.

Fun fact: One of Minnesota’s early auditors when we were still a territory was Socrates Nelson. Now there’s a name!

The two candidates are Democrat Julie Blaha and Republican Pam Myhra (OK, yeah, there are a few other minor party candidates, but I’m ignoring them.) Continue reading 2018 Minnesota State Auditor: Julie Blaha vs. Pam Myhra

2018 Minnesota House 52A: Rick Hansen

Control of the Minnesota House is at stake this year, which could mean movement on issues such as gun safety, sexual misconduct, and the environment. In District 52A, I’ll be voting for Rick Hansen.

District 52A is West St. Paul, Mendota, Lilydale, and the northern part of South St. Paul.

I live in 52A and will be focusing on that race, though it’s not much of a race. 52B, on the other hand, is pretty tight. It was decided in 2016 by 121 votes. I think challenger Ruth Richardson will be a strong voice in that seat. Continue reading 2018 Minnesota House 52A: Rick Hansen

2018 Minnesota Governor’s Race: Johnson vs. Walz

I’ve been following the governor’s race in Minnesota for more than a year. Initially I liked Rebecca Otto, but after the DFL endorsement I supported Erin Murphy and became pretty involved in her campaign. The primary loss was tough, and I’ve been much quieter about the governor’s race.

We’ve got Jeff Johnson facing off against Tim Walz.

I’ll be honest: Another older white guy for governor isn’t that exciting to me (but let’s be more honest—excitement isn’t what we need in government). Though Walz’ service in the military and as a teacher is something to get excited about. I don’t know if he can follow through on his “One Minnesota” idea to bring people together, but that’s something I’m willing to root for. It reflects the #PoliticsOfJoy I loved so much in the Murphy campaign. Continue reading 2018 Minnesota Governor’s Race: Johnson vs. Walz

2018 Minnesota Senate Races: Klobuchar & Smith

There are two U.S. Senate seats on the ballot for Minnesota this year, thanks to the resignation of Al Franken.

Incumbent Amy Klobuchar is up for reelection and is facing state representative Jim Newberger (and Green Party candidate Paula Overby, whom I’d ignore except she served as a spoiler in the Second Congressional race in 2016).

Governor Mark Dayton appointed his Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith to fill Franken’s seat, so Smith is sort of the incumbent. She’s facing state Senator Karin Housley to see who will fill the remaining two years in Franken’s term (so yeah, we have to do it again in 2020). (And careful with your Googling, there’s a fake “KarenHousleymn.com” site that’s an anti-Housley site—it’s an obvious [slogan: “Unprepared, uninterested on the issues that matter,”] but kinda dirty trick paid for by Smith’s campaign.)

In some ways these races are very much split down the party lines. But there are some issues that stood out to me. Continue reading 2018 Minnesota Senate Races: Klobuchar & Smith

A work-at-home dad wrestles with faith, social justice & story.