Category Archives: Politics

West St. Paul City Council: Appointed, Apologized, Attacked, Admitted

West St. Paul city council meetings continue to be full of drama and public outcry. Last night’s June 11, 2018 meeting (you can watch online) was the third meeting since the infamous April 23 meeting when charges of sexism were levied against four male council members—and it was the third meeting in a row that featured a packed house and multiple citizens addressing the council.

It’s so encouraging to see people standing up and speaking out. As Councilperson Dave Napier said, “It’s your city.” Continue reading West St. Paul City Council: Appointed, Apologized, Attacked, Admitted

2018 West St. Paul Candidates on Sexism Controversy

The candidate filing period closed on Tuesday and the last chance to withdraw ended yesterday, so we’ve got our official candidates for the 2018 election in West St. Paul. How do the 2018 candidates stack up in terms of the current hot-button issue in West St. Paul: sexism?

The April 23, 2018 council meeting erupted into charges of sexism over the rejected appointment of Samantha Green that spawned harassment of Mayor Jenny Halverson and Green, as well as an estimated 150 people showing up at the May 14 city council meeting and another 75 or so at the May 29 city council meeting. The story sparked local news coverage and even national attention.

Obviously this isn’t the only issue in the 2018 election, but it is a big one. So where do our newly minted candidates stand? Continue reading 2018 West St. Paul Candidates on Sexism Controversy

Run for Public Office in West St. Paul: April 4

I’m organizing a run for public office in West St. Paul event along with some fellow citizens and the League of Women Voters-Dakota County. It’s a nonpartisan, informational meeting to learn more about running for city office, serving on committees, and volunteering with the city.

Mayor Jenny Halverson and a few city council members will be joining us to share their stories of running for public office and answer questions as a part of our moderated panel discussion.

The event is coming up pretty quick—Wednesday, April 4—primarily because the filing period is in May and there’s not a lot of time to decide if you want to run. Of course the event is open to anyone, whether you want to run this year or just some day.

Why?

I’m doing this because a lot of people don’t pay any attention to local politics. Yet the local level often has the greatest impact on your daily life. Roads, parks, trash collection, noise, and petty crime—that’s all local politics.

“If you love where you live (or if you hate where you live and want to fix it), you need to run for city council.” -Amanda Litman, Run for Something

Continue reading Run for Public Office in West St. Paul: April 4

Minnesota GOP Votes to Block Gun Safety & Their DFL Challengers

After the Parkland school shooting in Florida I’ve been pretty angry about gun violence. I was fed up after the Las Vegas shooting last fall, and yet again nothing happened.

This time feels different.

But it will only be different if we make it different.

After Sandy Hook I remember thinking, “Surely Congress will do something, so I don’t have to get involved.” Boy was I stupid.

Let’s not be stupid.

Why should the second amendment be more sacred than human life? There are some common sense things we can do to restrict gun use and keep people safe. The idea that we can’t touch guns and that somehow more guns will keep people safe is just wrong.

Gun Safety in Minnesota

Today in Minnesota we had an opportunity to move forward with two simple approaches to gun control, background checks and a red flag law that would temporarily remove guns from dangerous people. Continue reading Minnesota GOP Votes to Block Gun Safety & Their DFL Challengers

Sexual Misconduct in Minnesota Politics: Lindsey Port Speech

You know what’s weird? Discussing sexual misconduct at the dinner table with your kids.

We’ve discussed a lot of politics in the past year or two, not because my family is especially political, but because the issues have demanded it.

It’s hard to describe the moment my son yelled out, “What’s a pussy?” or the face my daughter made when it dawned on her what the President of the United States had said.

Sexual Misconduct in Minnesota

That issue came home for me this fall when State Representative Erin Maye Quade and candidate Lindsey Port came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against two members of the Minnesota legislature. It seemed the flood of #MeToo stories heard around the country were coming home to Minnesota (that feeling would only deepen with the stories about Senator Al Franken and Garrison Keillor).

Lindsey Port’s speech at the Sexual Harassment Task Force Rally (transcript below):

Continue reading Sexual Misconduct in Minnesota Politics: Lindsey Port Speech

Minnesota Runs 2018: Women & Minorities Running for Office in Minnesota

Two years ago we heard nothing but complaints about our choices for who to vote for in the 2016 presidential election.

We hear complaints that there aren’t enough minority or female voices in the process.

People are frustrated that their views aren’t represented.

I’m a big believer in ‘stop complaining and start doing.’

We’re heading into the 2018 midterm elections, with all of the U.S. House, a third of the U.S. Senate, and control of state legislatures and governors’ offices around the country, as well as all kinds of local races on the line.

If you want to see candidates you support, now is the time to get involved. Here in Minnesota, caucusing begins Feb. 6. This is a byzantine process for parties to endorse their preferred candidate. It’s not the only path to office, but it’s a big one. So it’s time to start paying attention. Continue reading Minnesota Runs 2018: Women & Minorities Running for Office in Minnesota

Meeting Congressional Candidates: Jeff Erdmann

Tonight I went to another political meet and greet. Second one this week. And I took my daughter. Again.

I’m not sure what’s going on.

That’s not true. I’m angry. That’s what’s going on. This story broke about Minnesota House candidate Lindsey Port being blackballed  by DFL donors for speaking out against sexual misconduct.

So I’m feeling this push to be involved, to speak out, to let my voice be heard. I’m not just going to sit at home and complain.

Tonight Lexi and I walked to the coffee shop to hear from Minnesota 2nd Congressional District candidate Jeff Erdmann (“It’s spelled like ‘Nerdman,’ but take the ‘n’ off the front and put it on the back.”). He’s challenging 2016 DFL candidate Angie Craig for the DFL endorsement to face incumbent Jason Lewis in November.

I liked hearing Jeff’s story. He teaches American government to ninth graders at Rosemount High School. He teaches varsity football. He’s on reduced time at school in order to campaign (as reduced as he can and still keep health insurance) and his wife took a part-time job.  Continue reading Meeting Congressional Candidates: Jeff Erdmann

Senate District 52 DFL Gubernatorial Meet & Greet

I went to an event to meet DFL candidates for governor tonight. There are six candidates lined up so far: Chris Coleman, Tina Liebling, Erin Murphy, Rebecca Otto, Paul Thissen, and Tim Walz (Walz actually couldn’t make it, since he had to return to Washington for a vote).

The place was packed with a couple hundred people, all energized and fired up. It was a good chance to actually talk to the candidates and ask the questions you wanted to.

I’ve never been very involved in politics, but after the 2016 campaign when so many people complained about the lack of quality candidates, I think it’s important to get involved and be a voice in the process.

So Who’s the Best Candidate?

The challenge right now is there’s not a lot of difference between the candidates. They all have pretty similar positions. I liked Rebecca Otto going into this event, and I still like her. I also liked the energy of Erin Murphy and Chris Coleman.

I think Otto has some real practical plans—not just pie-in-the-sky ideas. As state auditor, she’s all about the numbers. She’s very practical, and I think that has pretty broad appeal. She’s also won state office before, by wider margins than both previous governors.

But I think I could get behind a lot of these candidates.

One thing I keep coming back to is I think it’s time for a woman to be governor of Minnesota. That’s not a deciding issue for sure, but when I see candidates that are pretty close on a lot of the issues, that becomes more important.

What it really comes down to is strong ideas to improve Minnesota. That’s pretty exciting.

The Next Generation

I also brought Lexi along with me tonight. We’ve talked a little about the gubernatorial contest and a lot about politics in general. Lexi doesn’t understand why there aren’t more women in these roles, so she’s excited to see more women running.

It was fun to bring her along and talk to some candidates and talk about some issues. Liebling talked about being inspired by Paul Wellstone, and mentioned talking to college students who didn’t know who Wellstone was. She said there probably wasn’t anyone here tonight who didn’t know Wellstone, though Lexi didn’t know.

So we got to talk about Paul Wellstone.

As a bonus, Lexi also won a door prize of a print with Wellstone’s famous phrase, “We all do better when we all do better.”

"We all do better when we all do better." -Paul Wellstone

We also talked about how politics actually does matter and changes things that impact our lives. The DFL passed gay marriage in Minnesota, making it possible for our LGBT friends to get married here. When Lexi started kindergarten she went half-day because we would have had to pay $3,000 to send her. When Milo started kindergarten he could go all day thanks to the all-day kindergarten the DFL passed.

We also talked about how ideas like help with college tuition will really impact Lexi’s future.

These kinds of things matter.

So it’s exciting to go to stuff like this and get involved and push for better things for our state and country. And bringing your kid along? Even better.

(Big thanks to everyone who worked to make tonight’s event happen.)

Time for Minnesota’s First Female Governor?

Today I met Tina Liebling, a Minnesota state representative who is running for governor in 2018. It feels so early to be thinking about the 2018 campaign for Minnesota governor. But if I’ve learned anything about the 2016 campaign it’s that we need to be more involved.

Everybody complained in 2016 that they didn’t like any of the candidates. Well, if you want a candidate on the ballot that you like, you need to get involved early and support the candidate you want to see. Continue reading Time for Minnesota’s First Female Governor?

How Does Our Democracy Move Forward in the Trump Era?

The current political climate, in the third week of the Trump presidency, is a little, um, overwhelming. I’ve seen a lot of people complaining about the constant political discussion on social media, and retreating from the conversation.

I get that.

But at the same time, well, this is not a normal time. I’m trying to figure out how to navigate this new not normal. I think we all are.

The Era of Fake News & Alternative Facts

It’s frustrating because as much as Donald Trump complains about the media and “fake news,” hasn’t he been one of the main perpetrators and benefactors of fake news?

He stoked the birther movement against Barack Obama. He questioned the legitimacy of a sitting president, refusing to believe that the son of a black, Muslim immigrant could rightfully be president.

It was the epitome of fake news.

And where did it get Trump? The oval office. Continue reading How Does Our Democracy Move Forward in the Trump Era?