Pride flag

Pride Flags: Where Do 2018 West St. Paul Candidates Stand?

With the coming general election on November 6 and the mayor and three city council seats on the ballot, I’ve been asking our local candidates some questions.

Earlier we covered Robert Street debt, so now let’s move on to Pride flags:

At the June 25, 2018 city council meeting, a citizen asked about the possibility of displaying LGBTQ Pride flags along Robert Street for Pride Month next year. The city council would need to approve such a move. Assuming the logistics can be worked out, would you be in favor of displaying Pride flags on Robert Street?

I sent that question to [most of] the candidates on September 5 and gave them September 26 as a deadline. Here are their responses:

Candidates for Mayor

There are two candidates for mayor: Anthony Fernandez and Dave Napier.

Anthony Fernandez

(campaign site)

Yes, so long as there are no costs to the City and other groups be given the same opportunity in the future.

Dave Napier

(campaign site)

Celebrating any group or organization should go through the people of our city. West St. Paul is not just my city, it’s all of our city. With this in mind, I would want to make sure that the residents and taxpayers had an opportunity to provide support for such a celebration. We may have other groups come forward to want the same type of celebration. We must develop a process to allow any group to utilize the flag idea to celebrate. I would like to find out what other cities have developed to allow such a display of celebration in a fair manner.

Candidates for Ward 1 City Council

There is only one candidate for Ward 1: Dick Vitelli is running unopposed.

Dick Vitelli

(no campaign site)

I could support the idea.

Candidates for Ward 2 City Council

There are two candidates for Ward 2: John Justen and Jim Probst.

John Justen

(campaign site)

I am in favor of displaying Pride flags on Robert Street, presuming that the cost of the flags and the associated costs of placing them and removing them was taken on by the group supporting the flags, much like the current flags placed by the SRSBA. Future flag requests would have to be considered on a case by case basis. I feel that the message of inclusiveness and welcoming that the Pride flags represent is an important one for our city.

Jim Probst

(no campaign site)

Yes, I feel it would be a great way to support the LGBTQ community. The city council must have final approval and funding must come from private sources.

Candidates for Ward 3 City Council

There are two candidates for Ward 3: Wendy Berry and David Meisinger.

Wendy Berry

(campaign site)

I would welcome the display of Pride flags on Robert Street, just as I would the flags that celebrate other cultures or communities. As a community, it’s incredibly important that we celebrate the people that live in this city especially considering the amount of diversity in West St. Paul. The process that is currently in place involves the citizen presenting a proposal to the council in an Open Council Work Session and I think that’s an appropriate way to continue. It makes sense for the financial burden of the flags to fall on the organizations that bring the proposal forward, whether it’s self-funding, crowd sourcing, or partnering with non-profits. The West St. Paul I’ve experienced has been welcoming to my family. My hope is that people from all backgrounds would feel that West St. Paul welcomes all.

David Meisinger

(no campaign site)

[Per a request from David Meisinger threatening to report me to the police for harassment if I ever contact him again, I did not ask Meisinger this question and therefore have no response to share.]

Vote on November 6

The general election is on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. The West St. Paul city website has details on where and how to vote, including a handy ward map in case you’re wondering which ward you live in. You can also vote early with an absentee ballot, either by mail or by stopping at the Dakota County offices.

If you’d like more information on the candidates, there have been and will be several candidate forums:

Thank you to the candidates for taking the time to respond to my questions.

(Full disclosure: I have donated to the campaigns of Dave Napier and Wendy Berry.)

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