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
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
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
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?
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
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
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
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
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