West St. Paul City Council Ward 1 Race: Pat Armon & Bob Pace

So I’ve written about the West St. Paul mayor, ward 2 and ward 3 city council races, so I might as well explore the ward 1 race and cover all the bases. Incumbent Pat Armon is running for reelection in ward 1 and is facing challenger Bob Pace.

Pat Armon works for the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. Bob Pace is the owner of Pace’s Tire and Service Center on Robert Street in West St. Paul.

Like other races in the city, I think this one comes down to investment versus low taxes. Pat Armon sees the long-term benefits of investment, that investing in infrastructure will raise property values and bring more business and residents to the city. Bob Pace argues that those investments are costing too much and rising property taxes will drive people away.

But there’s also an added element of experience that Pat Armon brings to the table. Neither of these candidates are career politicians. For a town of 20,000 people, our council members are regular citizens who pitch in. I don’t think we should expect city council candidates to know everything, but being knowledgeable and engaged is a big plus. There are areas where Bob Pace admits he doesn’t have answers yet (which is certainly better than faking it or giving us political jargon), and that’s where I think Pat Armon’s experience and expertise shines through. Continue reading West St. Paul City Council Ward 1 Race: Pat Armon & Bob Pace

Bob Pace Did Not Call for a Spending Freeze on Robert Street

A statement from West St. Paul city council ward 1 candidate Bob Pace appeared in the November 2016 issue of the St. Paul Voice:

“[Bob Pace’s] top priority is to put the current Robert Street project on a spending freeze until it is determined how it will be funded. He wants to make the City business-friendly and would work with developers ‘instead of against them,’ in the continued revitalization of all business districts.”

The idea of a spending freeze on a nearly finished project raised some eyebrows. Turns out that’s not what Pace actually said.

Here’s the actual statement Bob Pace gave to the Voice outlining his top priorities:

“To work with developers to continue the revitalization of Robert Street and the rest of the cities businesses, to try and put a hold on spending money on projects that are not absolutely needed until we actually have the money. The citizens can not keep taking tax increases at the current rate.”

So he never called for a spending freeze on the Robert Street project. Continue reading Bob Pace Did Not Call for a Spending Freeze on Robert Street

John Justen: West St. Paul Ward 2 City Council Candidate

West St. Paul ward 2 city council candidate John Justen is doing a meet and greet at Carbone’s Pizza on Saturday, Oct. 29 from 3-5 p.m. What a great opportunity to meet a local candidate face to face and get your questions answered.

John Justen for Ward 2 City Council
Can we take a moment and recognize the brilliant pun in John Justen’s yard sign? “For Ward 2 City Council” or “Forward 2 City Council”—Nice.

John has been one of the truly interesting candidates in our local West St. Paul race. He’s a business owner impacted by Robert Street who doesn’t think it’s the worst thing ever. He also appeared on the Streets.mn podcast, totally nerding out with host Bill Lindeke for an hour about local development, business opportunity, city design, sidewalks and more. If you want to see an example of a knowledgeable and engaged candidate, take a listen.

I especially like his take on Robert Street from the Dakota County Chamber of Commerce candidate questionnaires:

“One lesson we can learn from the Robert Street reconstruction is that the delay of necessary spending increases results in higher costs in the long run. As a retail business owner, I make decisions about how and when to spend my money every day. As is true in business, our city’s success is based on frugal but forward looking investment. Fiscal responsibility does not mean doing nothing; it means recognizing needs and opportunities and responding to them in a timely and efficient manner.”

That, in a nutshell, is the Robert Street project. It had to be done. Delaying the inevitable just makes it cost more. So let’s seize the opportunity. I think mayoral candidate Jenny Halverson has the same investment-focused view.

I’m also appreciative of John Justen because he gave a comment for my Robert Street easement story that included an actual opinion. I understand the current council members and mayor were advised not to weigh in (rightfully so), but the other candidates were free to share their thoughts. Even if you disagree with John Justen, at least he weighed in.

John Justen is facing Anthony Fernandez for the Ward 2 city council seat, which is being vacated by Jenny Halverson’s run for mayor.

More on John Justen:

Mark Misukanis Education Mailer Completely Misleading

I guess I’ve taken it upon myself to call B.S. on local election lies this year.

Today’s misleading statement comes in an education-themed mailer from Republican Mark Misukanis, candidate for Minnesota State Senate District 52. He’s challenging Democrat Matt Klein for the seat formerly held by the late Jim Metzen.

Mark Misukanis education mailer attacking Matt Klein
An education-themed mailer from Mark Misukanis for Senate received on Oct. 25, 2016.

Continue reading Mark Misukanis Education Mailer Completely Misleading

West St. Paul Robert Street Easement Deal Gone Awry

On Sept. 15, West St. Paul Mayor David Meisinger boasted about saving the taxpayers $30,000 by vetoing a Robert Street easement settlement. He positioned it as spending $30,000 for two trees.

That sounds pretty bad. But it’s not that simple.

Let’s dive into the weeds and sort this out. Continue reading West St. Paul Robert Street Easement Deal Gone Awry

Women Shattering Political Glass Ceilings in 2016

This year’s election has felt more divisive and caustic than previous elections. That’s no secret. So in such an environment, it’s helpful to focus on the positive: Women achieving public office.

On my ballot there are at least three women running for positions that a woman has never held before. I think that’s exciting.

I think it’s worth talking about these potential milestones, regardless of your political leanings.

Let’s take a moment to address why celebrating this kind of diversity is important. Continue reading Women Shattering Political Glass Ceilings in 2016

Turning on the Heat 2016

Every year I note when I turn the heat on (yes, I’m a nerd).

This year was pretty average. We’ve got some highs in the low 70s coming up, so maybe we could have lasted longer, but today barely breaks 60 and I’m tired of being cold.

Plus, my daughter was complaining. I may be a lot of things, but I’m not a frugal furnace monster.

West St. Paul City Council Ward 3 Race: Dave Napier vs. John Ramsay

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. Continue reading West St. Paul City Council Ward 3 Race: Dave Napier vs. John Ramsay

West St. Paul Mayoral Election 2016: David Meisinger vs. Jenny Halverson

The West St. Paul mayoral and city council races are heating up in 2016 like never before. In my opinion, the campaign comes down to a choice between the penny-pinching approach of the  incumbent Mayor David Meisinger and the investment approach of challenger and current City Council Member Jenny Halverson.

I blogged about the West St. Paul mayor race back in 2014 because I was frustrated about the lack of coverage, clear details and accountability. Not much has changed.

Last time around I spoke directly to the candidates, trying to clarify some of the false and misleading statements. I didn’t get very far with that, especially when one of the candidates, current Mayor David Meisinger, blocked me on Facebook when I asked follow-up questions.

So this time around I opted to cut to the chase and look at what each candidate has already said. Many of these statements are snippets from the Dakota County Chamber of Commerce candidate questionnaires. I encourage you to read the full responses there, and watch the public television candidate forum and meet the candidates. You can also get details from official sites for David Meisinger and Jenny Halverson.

This post is my opinion, and you’re welcome to your own opinion, so please educate yourself and vote on November 8. Continue reading West St. Paul Mayoral Election 2016: David Meisinger vs. Jenny Halverson

Back to School

Today is the first day of school. My kids are off to second grade and fifth grade (middle school!).

Pardon me while I celebrate the end of summer.

(I’m a work-at-home dad. Summer is not so easy.)

School can always be kind of crazy making. I’m 37, I’ve been out of school for… a long time, and I still have recurring nightmares about getting lost in school, unable to find my classes or remember my schedule.

This prayer seems apt:

Even when there’s not much to be nervous about—my kids have it pretty easy—they’re still nervous.

Just looking at this photo from the superintendent, the welcome wagon at high school—especially the high fives—makes me a little nervous. It’s a welcoming gesture, sure, but it feels like window dressing for the high school experience. When it comes to finding a seat in the cafeteria or sitting next to someone on the bus or just walking down the halls, will those smiles and high fives still be there?

Honestly, I feel a little bit of relief that I don’t have to deal with any of it, that the kids are off and the house is quiet again. They’re as prepared as they’re going to be, and they’ll have to face it themselves.

Godspeed.

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