(Update: While this article was written in 2018, David Meisinger is running again in 2020 and the issues outlined here are still very relevant.)
David Meisinger is running for city council in West St. Paul. However, his recent behavior should disqualify him from public office. No one should vote for Meisinger.
Below I’ll detail three public examples of David Meisinger’s bullying, intimidating, and mean-spirited behavior. This is not what we want in our elected officials, and so I’m suggesting that David Meisinger should never hold public office again. Not city council, not mayor, not commissioner nor committee member—and definitely not higher office (which he’s hinted at in the past).
Meisinger has every right to run for office, but as voters we get the final decision. I’m detailing these instances of inappropriate behavior to help voters know the kind of person that’s on the ballot.
Who Is David Meisinger?
Meisinger has a long history of service in West St. Paul. His
father uncle served as mayor, and Meisinger followed in those footsteps serving on city council from 1996-2000, as mayor from 2001-2002, then again on city council from 2003-2004, and most recently as mayor from 2015-2016. He runs a residential and commercial contracting business.
Meisinger also ran for state legislature in 2012, but lost in the GOP primary.
I’ve disagreed with some of his positions, but he’s served this city for many years and I appreciate his willingness to serve. Unfortunately, Meisinger’s recent behavior goes far beyond any political stance or simple disagreement.
Public Scrutiny for Public Officials
Let’s be clear what I’m doing here: David Meisinger is running for city council in West St. Paul’s ward 3. He wants to be an elected official (again). That means public scrutiny.
If Meisinger wanted to continue being a private citizen, I wouldn’t publicize any of this. But if he wants to represent the citizens of West St. Paul, then we deserve to know what kind of person he is.
What’s Not Here
There are multiple stories about David Meisinger that show questionable behavior: the Marie Ave. bidding process that wasn’t illegal but maybe unethical, exposing confidential negotiations for political gain, telling a council member to sit there and be quiet, reckless driving, etc. We’ve also seen a lot of misinformation and a willingness to block people and/or delete comments.
But I recognize that many of those stories could be dismissed as mere political infighting, biased reporting, or cases where people simply disagree.
So let’s just focus on three of the most egregious examples that are simply indefensible. These aren’t rumor or hearsay. I’m not making baseless accusations, I’m simply sharing verifiable, public stories.
Let’s put all the cards on the table: I wrote blog posts supporting Meisinger’s opponents in both 2014 and 2016. We disagree on policy, and as I’ve tried to ask Meisinger questions and give him an opportunity to clarify his statements, he’s blocked me from his Facebook page. He found out I was researching this blog post, and threatened to report me to the police for harassment if I ever contact him again in any way shape or form.
Which means I wasn’t able to ask Meisinger for his response to these incidents. So if you want Meisinger’s side of the story, you’ll have to ask him yourself.
So let’s get to it….
1. City Pages Comment
In April 2018 the West St. Paul city council erupted with charges of sexism and harassment. As the story gained steam, the City Pages published an article. In the comments section, Andrea Friesen, who goes by Andrea Honeycutt online, posted a comment in support of Mayor Jenny Halverson and sharply critical of some members of the city council.
David Meisinger commented and turned Andrea’s online pseudonym into a vulgar insult, changing “Honeycutt” to “Honeycunt.” (Though this comment was later deleted, multiple people saw it, took screenshots, and replied to it.)
Assessing the Issue
His comment itself hints at a long history between himself and Friesen. However, the substance of his comment and even his ongoing feud with Friesen is irrelevant.
Was this vulgarity just a typo? Seems incredibly unlikely. Going for a ‘t’ and coming up with an ‘n’? Also, if it was an innocent typo, why not just edit the post and correct it? (Meisinger had already edited the post at least once.) Even if we try to give Meisinger the benefit of the doubt, this seems intentional.
And no one should be using that vulgar slang.
Especially not someone who hopes to serve in public office.
What Meisinger said is indefensible, so let’s just stop right there.
(This entire post should stop right there. That should be enough. But in case it’s not, let’s continue.)
2. Intimidation and Potential Harassment
Samantha Green was at the center of the sexism and harassment controversy. She was initially appointed and rejected for the Planning Commission on April 23, 2018, and then became the target of harassment when she found a box of tissues wrapped in a bow outside her home. Green has had run-ins with Meisinger before, to the point that after the controversial meeting, Meisinger declared that Green is “not qualified for anything” (on June 11 the city council voted 5-0 to appoint Green to the Planning Commission).
At the June 11 city council meeting, Green shared her story of an encounter she had with Meisinger at Cub Foods. During this incident Meisinger seemed to claim responsibility for leaving tissues at Green’s house and the harassment that occurred in April.
I spoke with Green and this is how she described the encounter:
“He approached me at Cub, and said ‘Tissues are in aisle five.’ I said, ‘You would know, wouldn’t you?’ And he said, ‘Yup, I sure would.’ I told him to ‘stay the [expletive] away from my house,’ and he laughed at me.”
The Pioneer Press talked with Meisinger about this incident, then later followed up with Green to add her response. They characterized the interaction like this:
On Tuesday, Meisinger denied Green’s claim. He said he went up to Green at Cub Foods and said, “Samantha, Kleenex is in aisle five.”
Meisinger said Green responded with, “You should know,” and that he came back with, “That’s right. I buy them all the time.” He said Green then accused him of putting the tissues at her house and swore at him before the two went separate ways.
Green said Tuesday that she told Meisinger to “stay the (expletive) away from my house.” There was no reason for him to approach her at the store in the first place, she added.
Assessing the Issue
We can’t definitely say if Meisinger is responsible for the April harassment. In Green’s account, Meisinger implies that he did it. But Meisinger denies that account.
But what is relevant here: Why would Meisinger approach Green in the first place? Let’s assume that Meisinger’s own account of the interaction is true. Why would Meisinger approach a person he has clear animosity toward in order to tell them where the tissues are?
Any reasonable person would agree that Meisinger was not giving Green helpful shopping advice (especially because tissues are not in aisle five). What is he doing? It seems like he’s trying to troll Green in person and intimidate her by referring to the tissues that were left at her house.
The other option is that Meisinger’s account is not true, and Green’s account is accurate—which would amount to Meisinger admitting that he’s responsible for the April harassment. That’s infinitely worse for Meisinger.
So for the sake of argument, let’s assume the best case scenario, relying on Meisinger’s own account: We’re left to conclude that Meisinger was trying to intimidate Green.
Again, that kind of behavior is unacceptable, especially for someone running for public office.
3. Property Shaming
On June 7, 2018, David Meisinger posted to his Facebook page about a property in West St. Paul with weeds and clogged gutters. He declared these neighbors “lazy and disrespectful” and implied that people should report them to the city.
Courtney Raney and her daughter Skye spoke at the June 11, 2018 city council meeting, noting that it was their house that had been targeted by Meisinger. They believe the post was in retaliation for Courtney’s husband Mark speaking critically of Meisinger at a previous council meeting.
Courtney said they’ve been dealing with family issues and have neglected some maintenance, but that shouldn’t warrant this kind of public embarrassment. Skye noted that a host of neighbors had volunteered to help, and those actions showed the true nature of this community.
Assessing the Issue
If this wasn’t an act of retaliation then it was an incredible coincidence. But let’s ignore the charged allegations of retaliation and just look at Meisinger’s post at face value.
Should someone running for elected office be publicly shaming citizens?
There are better ways to handle issues like this, as our current mayor, Jenny Halverson, advocated at the June 25, 2018 city council meeting in response to an unrelated issue. Instead of first calling the city for code violations, Mayor Halverson encouraged people to talk to their neighbors and see if they need help.
Instead of publicly shaming a family in a difficult situation, Meisinger could have offered to help. Or encouraged others to help. Or he could have quietly reported the matter to the city and let them take care of it—at least avoid the public shaming.
Someone who wants to be a public official (again) using his platform as a former mayor to attack private citizens in the midst of a family crisis? That’s beyond inappropriate.
Meisinger himself should understand family issues that interfere with other obligations. He resigned his city council seat in 2004 to deal with his divorce.
Whether it is in fact retaliation or you want to give Meisinger credit and it’s “merely” public shaming, neither is appropriate for an elected official.
So Who Should We Vote For?
Inappropriate behavior can’t technically disqualify anyone from running for office. But it should absolutely influence how we vote. You can make up your own mind about David Meisinger for Ward 3 city council in West St. Paul. But I’d urge you to consider the issues I’ve raised. These aren’t rumor or accusation, these are verified stories, often coming from Meisinger himself.
I researched a lot of stories for this blog post. I tracked a lot of leads, some that went somewhere and others that didn’t (a story I wasn’t able to corroborate and therefore am not sharing led to Meisinger’s threat against me). For the record, I believe many of the stories I heard. But without substantiated proof, they’d be seen as allegations. (Though if anyone has a story and wants to go on the record, feel free to contact me.)
But we shouldn’t need any other stories. This is enough.
If you don’t think David Meisinger should serve in public office again, join me in voting for someone else in the
August 14 primary Nov. 6 general election: Wendy Berry . There are three other candidates running in the primary: Wendy Berry, Lisa Eng-Sarne, and John Ramsay (Ramsay currently has no campaign website; campaign site added July 17, 2018). November 3 general election: Lisa Eng-Sarne.
Let’s show David Meisinger that West St. Paul does not want this kind of behavior from our public officials.
How to Vote
The official West St. Paul website has information about where and how to vote in the
Aug. 14 primary Nov. 6 Nov. 3 general election (including a handy map showing the boundaries of Ward 3). You can also vote early with an absentee ballot, either by mail or by stopping at the Dakota County offices.
Notes & Disclosures
Note: The “Mayor Meisinger” Facebook page that has served in the past as Meisinger’s campaign site disappeared in July 2018. So many of the direct links to his posts and comments have also disappeared. I’ve removed the broken links to avoid confusion.
(Full disclosure: I have donated to the campaign of Wendy Berry. Here’s why I’m voting for Wendy Berry.)
Update: Primary Results (Sept. 29, 2018)
Results from the Aug. 14, 2018 primary:
- Wendy Berry – 738 (42.98%)
- David Meisinger – 453 (26.38%)
- Lisa Eng-Sarne – 345 (20.09%)
- John Ramsay – 181 (10.54%)
Wendy Berry and David Meisinger advanced to the Nov. 6 general election.
Update: Election Results (Nov. 9, 2018)
Wendy Berry won:
- Wendy Berry – 1979 (58.69%)
- David Meisinger – 1381 (40.95%)
Update: 2020 Campaign (Sept. 10, 2020)
Meisinger is again running for Ward 3 City Council against incumbent Lisa Eng-Sarne. From what I’ve seen in the past two years, his behavior has not changed. He hasn’t made any attempt to address the above issues and has only continued his intimidating behavior.