Update: Read my latest post about Dave Napier running for mayor in 2018.
The heated elections in West St. Paul continue. I already posted about the West St. Paul mayor election, and now I’m going to look at the West St. Paul City Council Ward 3 race. We have the incumbent city council member Dave Napier running against challenger John Ramsay (who also ran in 2014 and lost a close race).
Much like the West St. Paul mayor’s race, in city council we’re facing the same issues. I think it comes down to vision and investment vs. penny pinching.
You can read the Dakota County Chamber of Commerce candidate questionnaires and watch the public television candidate forum and meet the candidates (though it does not include John Ramsay). You can also get details from official sites for John Ramsay and Dave Napier.
Dave Napier has been on the council for four years and has been involved and advocating for strategic planning. In the candidate forum he talks about getting community input and then pursuing those goals.
John Ramsay talks about the importance of business to the exclusion of everything else. He campaigned hard against the Robert Street project in 2014, and continues to declare this necessary, vital project a fiasco.
West St. Paul Sidewalks
But I think these responses from the candidate forum about sidewalks really show the difference between these two candidates.
West St. Paul has a hodgepodge of sidewalks where some streets have them and some don’t. They often start and stop unexpectedly, forcing pedestrians into the street. On my block there’s no sidewalk in front of my house, but there is one across the street. The next block over, the sidewalk switches sides of the street. A few blocks down, no sidewalk.
The candidates were asked “What are your thoughts on improving pedestrian and public transport options?”
Ramsay: “Well, I’ve lived here for 60-some years, and I’ve never had a problem. My kids, my self, my parents, we’ve always been able to walk any place we want on Robert Street or Charlton or any of the streets. Maybe I’m blind, my wife walks this town every single night and has no issues with traffic or anything else. My 10-year-old grandson takes his bike and goes on the sidewalks, there’s millions of them.”
Napier: “Up until last year Marie Avenue was dangerous—walking down the street, people going to the high school, there was no sidewalk, nowhere for them to walk, even in winter they’d walk on the street. Wentworth’s that way now. The idea of this pedestrian plan that was done and approved by the council is—not to pay for it now, this is a 10 year plan—but it gives you a sense of vision for where we can go with connectivity. We heard loud and clear at every open house we had in every ward that connectivity was critical to people. They wanted to be able to move throughout the city on foot, with bike, with strollers, whatever. So we addressed that and I think it’s working.”
Napier is aware of problem areas with the sidewalks in the city, he’s heard from residents, and he supports a long-term vision to address those problems.
Ramsay denies any problem exists.
To be clear, the issue here really isn’t sidewalks. It’s which candidate is engaged and understands what’s going on.
West St. Paul Community Engagement
During another moment in the candidate forum, candidates were asked about community engagement.
Dave Napier talked about how there’s always room for improvement, but the city is doing good. He specifically comments about the city’s efforts to communicate through Facebook.
John Ramsay dismisses what Napier just said, saying, “Facebook is fine, but it’s a very small percentage of the population.” However, in the candidate questionnaire, Ramsay talks about a “Connecting our Community” vision that will rely on social media and online meetings.
Conclusion on the West St. Paul City Council Ward 3 Race
I think Dave Napier has a proven track record of vision, planning and responsible investment in West St. Paul. The only consistent thing I see from John Ramsay is that he hates the Robert Street project.
(For more on local elections, read my commentary on the West St. Paul mayor election.)
Update: Smith & Dodd (Oct. 17, 2016)
The Stubbornly Local blog asked the West St. Paul city council Ward 3 candidates about another upcoming road construction project: Smith and Dodd road in the northwestern corner of the city.
Dave Napier: “I think it is a great idea to take a look at the plan prior to the reconstruction of 149. Vehicle and Pedestrian safety should be the top priority. The Smith Avenue Revitalization Plan (SARP) is well thought out and certainly calls for a more pedestrian friendly corridor. … I would suggest the City of West St Paul work with a consultant to review the SARP and determine if we should be doing anything to position ourselves better for the reconstruction of 149.”
John Ramsay: “I have not had the opportunity to review the options for the Smith/Dodd road project as of yet with the election close at hand. I am sure there are items that could improve travel on these roads. On a project of this scale, it will require some deep thought to take full advantage for the Residents and businesses needs in that area.”
The plan Ramsay hasn’t reviewed yet was created in 2010 and approved in 2011 by both St. Paul and West St. Paul city councils. Stubbornly Local summarizes a few of the options, including improved walkability for pedestrian safety, bike lanes and traffic calming measures.
Update: Robert Street Easement (Oct. 26, 2016)
I explored a Robert Street easement deal gone wrong in a recent post and it’s worth noting the response from Dave Napier and John Ramsay. Napier defended the deal, citing the long-term goal and potential impact on future negotiations. Ramsay shared misleading information, made completely inaccurate comments and then deleted everything he had previously posted.