We had a competitive and heated election season in West St. Paul, Minn., in 2018. That hasn’t always been the case, but it also means an increase in costs.
Let’s take a look at the cash spent in recent elections in West St. Paul.
Most Expensive Election?
2018 at nearly $37,700 total. Only one race was uncontested and there was an extremely expensive primary in ward 3 where all four candidates spend over $2,000.
I only looked at data going back to 2008, but given inflation and the rising cost of campaigns, it’s likely the most expensive election season in West St. Paul history (I don’t quite have the data to verify it, but I’m pretty confident). Continue reading How Much Do Election Campaigns Cost in West St. Paul?
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
Dakota County has proposed a River-to-River Greenway trail through West St. Paul that includes the Robert Street tunnel. This isn’t a new idea. A separated crossing has been proposed in various incarnations going back to the 2001 Renaissance Plan.
The proposals have shifted over the years, the cost has changed dramatically and the funding has gone from $0 to 100%. In all that time plenty of misconceptions have taken root.
I think the tunnel is a great opportunity for West St. Paul. So let’s look at some of the common misconceptions about the Robert Street tunnel that seem to be standing in the way of this project:
1. The Project is Too Expensive
The number one misconception about the Robert Street tunnel is that it’s going to cost West St. Paul too much money. A citizen comment at the Feb. 27 city council meeting urged the council to be fiscally responsible and reject the tunnel. But this is often based on earlier reports about the tunnel that had a higher price tag and no secured funding. Continue reading 7 Misconceptions About the Robert Street Tunnel
I spoke at the West St. Paul city council meeting tonight. Not my favorite thing to do. I don’t like public speaking or confrontation.
Here’s the short version: Two new council members elected in November and sworn in last week tipped the balance, and City Manager Matt Fulton was forced to resign. The city council members behind this offered no rational for firing Fulton, other than wanting a “fresh start.”
Of course that “fresh start” will require an interim city manager, increased burden on the staff as they wrestle with all the changes, a search for a new city manager that’s likely to cost thousands of dollars, and—oh yeah—the severance package for Matt Fulton that will include an additional six months pay.
Why do we need this costly and time-consuming “fresh start”?
Continue reading West St. Paul Fires City Manager for No Reason
This year I’ve blogged about a lot of local elections here in West St. Paul:
Part of my frustration goes back to the misleading statements and misinformation in the 2014 election. But alas, I’ve been complaining about how hard it is to find information about local races since 2003.
Seriously, the most we get are candidate sites and a few candidate forums and questionnaires. Those are helpful, but there’s no push back. A candidate can say whatever they want and it goes unchallenged. It’s no wonder turnout for local elections is horrendous.
So I guess it’s time to start fixing the problem. I did push back when candidates were leaving out important details or being completely misleading. I also spoke up when they were being misrepresented. I’ve been passionate and certainly biased, but hopefully I wasn’t too much of a jerk. Continue reading 2016 Elections in West St. Paul: Taxes & Infrastructure
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
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
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