Tag Archives: Jenny Halverson

West St. Paul Wins: 2018 Election

After feeling somewhat despondent after the 2016 election, I decided to focus on local politics. I couldn’t do much about things at the national level, but I thought maybe I could make a difference at the local level.

I wasn’t alone.

An army of volunteers and supporters came forward, and together we worked for change. People tried to join city committees, we supported a local trail, put on a bike rodeo—we got involved.

Then the sexism controversy exploded and West St. Paul made national news. And not in a good way.

People were already starting to pay attention, but that issue galvanized people like never before. A progressive advocacy group, Women of West St. Paul formed, and they organized voter registration efforts, rides to the polls, and multiple candidate forums.

On April 23, 2018, West St. Paul’s first female mayor, Jenny Halverson, expressed frustration at what she saw as sexism, and declared, “This will not be forgotten, folks.”

On Nov. 6, 2018, it was not forgotten. Continue reading West St. Paul Wins: 2018 Election

2018 West St. Paul Ward 3 Race: Wendy Berry vs. David Meisinger

The 2018 West St. Paul Ward 3 city council race is an open contest since incumbent John Bellows is not running. After a heated four-way primary, Wendy Berry and David Meisinger are vying for the seat.

No shock to anyone who’s been following along, but I’m voting for Wendy Berry.

The Candidates

Wendy Berry has a decade of experience in human resources and leadership. She is a mentor and volunteer. She completed the Citizen Police Academy shortly after moving to West St. Paul, showing her commitment to the city. This is her first run for office.

David Meisinger (no campaign site) previously served on city council (first elected in 1996, again in 2002 and resigned in 2003) and served two non-consecutive terms as mayor (most recently losing to Jenny Halverson in 2016). He runs a residential and commercial contracting business. Continue reading 2018 West St. Paul Ward 3 Race: Wendy Berry vs. David Meisinger

West St. Paul’s Targeted Women Look for Answers & Make Their Own

“#MeToo. It’s still going on. We’re past the point of being shook up about it. We’re just sick and tired of it. We’re scared for our families, I’m not scared for myself, I’m just sick and tired. … Enough. Just so we’re clear. We’ve had enough. No more.”

You could hear it in her voice, the frustration that West St. Paul Mayor Jenny Halverson felt after multiple women spoke up during the Oct. 8 city council meeting—again—to decry targeted attacks of tires punctured with screws.

I immediately thought of the timeless quote from civil rights legend Fannie Lou Hamer:

“I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

Continue reading West St. Paul’s Targeted Women Look for Answers & Make Their Own

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

Women Confront West St. Paul City Council

Last night’s West St. Paul city council meeting was incredible. Women came out in droves and packed the city council chambers—bearing tampons—to protest sexism.

More than 150 residents showed up (is that a record for a West St. Paul city council meeting?) and citizen comments went on for an hour and a half as women berated the sitting council members, detailing stories of harassment, mistreatment and—at best—neglect.

The tensions spilled over after the overt sexism on display at the previous city council meeting on April 23, but as Mayor Jenny Halverson testified (and former council member Darlene Lewis, who served from 2005 to 2012, confirmed), sexism has been an ongoing problem.

The tampons were part of a Pad Drive where feminine hygiene products were donated to a local food shelf (and over $2,600 was raised online), after the mayor and another citizen were harassed.

Many of the woman dressed in green and wore buttons quoting Mayor Halverson, “This will not be forgotten, folks!” Continue reading Women Confront West St. Paul City Council

West St. Paul City Council: Sexism in Appointee Debate?

The West St. Paul City Council meeting on April 23, 2018 was a curious descent into misogyny and sexism. It can be a little hard to follow city council meetings if you’re not aware of the entire history and context. Sometimes it seems our elected officials rely on that fact. You can always watch the video yourself (11:51 in the council video), but I’m going to try to clarify some of what happened.

Here’s the short version: Mayor Jenny Halverson appointed three people to fill vacancies on the Planning Commission. City council has to approve those appointments. In the past, mayoral appointments have mostly been honored, though that hasn’t been the case for Mayor Halverson. Two of Halverson’s appointments were confirmed, and a third was rejected. Two of the council members who voted ‘no,’ (Ed Iago and John Bellows), argued back in 2015 that mayoral appointments need to be honored.

That honor seems to have disappeared in 2018, during the term of West St. Paul’s first ever female mayor, while considering female appointments.

So let’s look at what happened in more detail. Continue reading West St. Paul City Council: Sexism in Appointee Debate?

Women’s History in West St. Paul

Last fall I explored the history of women in Minnesota politics. One of the interesting angles was that West St. Paul had never had a female mayor—until now. In 2016 West St. Paul elected its first female mayor in Jenny Halverson.

It made me curious about the history of women in other roles in West St. Paul’s history, so I did a little digging.

Female Firsts in West St. Paul:

  • 1955: Police Officer, Dorothea Binder
  • 1963: City Clerk, Benedicta Southwick
  • 1967: City Council, Devona Weatherhead
  • 1996: City Manager, Dianne R. Krogh
  • 1996: Fire Fighter, Linda McMillan
  • 2005: City Attorney, Korine Land
  • 2008: Finance Director, Sandy Christensen
  • 2017: Mayor, Jenny Halverson

Continue reading Women’s History in West St. Paul

West St. Paul Fires City Manager for No Reason

 

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

2016 Elections in West St. Paul: Taxes & Infrastructure

This year I’ve blogged about a lot of local elections here in West St. Paul:

Why?

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