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West St. Paul in the Headlines: How Our 2018 Candidates Will Do Better

The 2018 election is less than a month away. Here in West St. Paul we’ll be electing a new mayor and three city council seats. I’ve been asking our local candidates some questions to see where they stand on the issues.

Earlier we covered Robert Street debtPride flags, and medians and roundabouts. This time I wanted to ask candidates about negative behavior and how that impacts the image of our city. The recent sexism controversy was on my mind (here’s how the candidates have responded to that), but there are plenty of other examples.

Inappropriate behavior by candidates and elected officials has been making headlines—from the local to the national level. How are you going to ensure West St. Paul is making positive headlines?

I sent that question to [most of] the candidates on September 5 and gave them September 26 as a deadline. Here are their responses:

Candidates for Mayor

There are two candidates for mayor: Anthony Fernandez and Dave Napier.

Anthony Fernandez

(campaign site)

Community engagement, forums and business roundtables are a start to increase the visibility of West St. Paul. Having a Mayor give a State of the City address would help. Redevelopment projects are a great way to make positive headlines as well.

Dave Napier

(campaign site)

I will make sure that all elected officials participate in developing a strategic plan. We must revisit that plan annually. I believe that if we can work together to build the vision of our city, we will not experience that kind of divisiveness.

Candidates for Ward 1 City Council

There is only one candidate for Ward 1: Dick Vitelli is running unopposed.

Dick Vitelli

(no campaign site)

We can not control people who want to act inappropriately, all we can do is vote!

Candidates for Ward 2 City Council

There are two candidates for Ward 2: John Justen and Jim Probst.

John Justen

(campaign site)

I think the answer here is two-fold. To begin with, I would show respect to other council members despite the inevitable disagreements we might have, and encourage them to do the same. The second, and equally important thing I would do is to be clear that sexism and other forms of discriminatory behavior have no place in the council chambers. At this point, we as a body will need to earn back the trust of our citizens by being mindful of how we speak to each other and more importantly, how we speak and act towards residents.

Jim Probst

(no campaign site)

W St Paul does make positive headlines, like the nationally recognized effort at Garlough Environmental School. They just aren’t as well publicized. We need to get out and spread the news about the great things in W St Paul, if the city council does not celebrate the great things in our city who will? I have been involved in our community for years and I love the great things in W St Paul.

Candidates for Ward 3 City Council

There are two candidates for Ward 3: Wendy Berry and David Meisinger.

Wendy Berry

(campaign site)

I fully believe that those of us that want to represent West St. Paul on city council or as mayor need to have the city’s best interest in mind. I know I do. My full intent in assuming a city council position is to present our city in the most positive light we can. When we’re in the news (MPR, City Pages, Teen Vogue, etc.) for incredibly unprofessional things, I’d have second thoughts about wanting to move a new business to this area. That has to stop and it has no place in our city government.

Differing opinions and heated debates around topics that will make an impact on our city and our residents is vital. It’s how ideas are shared and different perspectives are considered. It can also be done respectfully and with transparency. When we get away from acting like adults in these situations is when things go awry and it’s when West St. Paul starts becoming the topic of conversations in other city council meetings in a negative light.

When I’m elected to represent Ward 3, I’ll do everything in my ability to move West St. Paul into a spot where we’re in the news for things that show how vibrant our community is, how willing we are to try things like piloting temporary homeless shelters, and how ready we are to see our city continue to grow.

David Meisinger

(no campaign site)

[Per a request from David Meisinger threatening to report me to the police for harassment if I ever contact him again, I did not ask Meisinger this question and therefore have no response to share.]

Vote on November 6

The general election is on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. The West St. Paul city website has details on where and how to vote, including a handy ward map in case you’re wondering which ward you live in. You can also vote early with an absentee ballot, either by mail or by stopping at the Dakota County offices.

If you’d like more information on the candidates, there have been and will be several candidate forums:

Thank you to the candidates for taking the time to respond to my questions.

(Full disclosure: I have donated to the campaigns of Dave Napier and Wendy Berry.)

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