This week’s West St. Paul City Council meeting didn’t seem to have any major items on the agenda, but there were still several noteworthy items. So let’s do a quick recap of the Feb. 25, 2019 meeting.
Food Drive: South Side vs. West Side
In a bit of friendly competition, the West St. Paul city council has challenged the South St. Paul city council to see who can bring in more food and donations in support of the Neighbors Inc. food shelf. The losing city council will wear the hockey jersey of the winning city’s team at a meeting. So it’s South St. Paul High School Packers vs. Henry Sibley High School Warriors. You can find more details including a list of places to bring food or donations online.
It’s been reported that Neighbors Inc. has lost an $89,000 grant from United Way, so they could definitely use the extra support this year. Continue reading West St. Paul City Council Recap: Feb. 25, 2019
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?
As we approach the 2018 elections, people in West St. Paul are engaged. It used to be that nobody knew anything about local elections and finding information was an exercise in futility—especially in our first-ring suburb of 20,000 people. But now my neighbors care. And that’s so inspiring.
It started with a sexism controversy that flared up in April, resulting in packed city council chambers and nearly two hours of citizen comments. The TV news showed up and residents donated money and feminine hygiene products to a local nonprofit—earning national attention. The issue even launched two city council campaigns (here’s the speech launching one of those campaigns)—creating a four-way primary that will be narrowed down next week.
But when the cameras went away and the hype died down, people kept showing up. Council meetings used to have paltry attendance at best, but every council meeting since has had a large crowd. Continue reading Unprecedented Voter Energy in West St. Paul
I’m so excited and proud of my city right now. More than 70 people showed up at a candidate forum for ward 3 city council candidates. Some 600 people were watching the Facebook video feed live and the number of views has doubled since then.
Standing room only to hear from the candidates.
Too bad all the candidates aren’t as engaged as the community.
All four candidates were invited to this non-partisan event, organized by Women of West St. Paul using rules from the League of Women Voters: Continue reading Huge Turnout at West St. Paul Ward 3 Candidate Forum
We’ve got a four-way primary for West St. Paul’s ward 3 city council seat. The top two will advance to the general election in November. So it’s important to know where these candidates stand.
I’ve been asking the candidates questions, including asking about Pride flags on Robert Street, the River-to-River Greenway project, and I collected their responses to the West St. Paul sexual harassment.
This week I’m asking about debts from the Robert Street project:
The Robert Street project is now finished, but paying for it is not. Like any major project, bonds were issued and we’ll have an increased debt obligation on the city budget. How will you approach this challenge?
I sent that question to [most of] the candidates on July 18 and gave them July 25 as a deadline. Here are their responses: Continue reading Robert Street Debt: Where Do West St. Paul Ward 3 Candidates Stand?
Four candidates are competing in a primary for a Ward 3 seat on West St. Paul’s city council.
Last week I posed the following question to [most of] the candidates:
At the June 25, 2018 city council meeting, a citizen asked about the possibility of displaying LGBTQ Pride flags along Robert Street for Pride Month next year. The city council would need to approve such a move. Assuming the logistics can be worked out, would you be in favor of displaying Pride flags on Robert Street?
I sent the question on July 10 and asked for their responses by July 17. Below are their responses in alphabetical order. Continue reading Pride Flags: Where Do West St. Paul Ward 3 City Council Candidates Stand?
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
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?
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
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