Ward 3 candidate
What are your three biggest priorities if you are elected?
My 3 biggest priorities are public safety; development that is compatible with existing neighborhoods, preserving our historic and architectural assets; and the transparent, economical delivery of basic municipal services.
Our police and fire departments need to be fully funded and supported, ensuring the safety of residents. Development should retain the character and livability of the existing neighborhood, preserving our historic, architectural assets and greenspaces, including the Summit Avenue streetscape. The city should not commit financial resources to new development projects or programs while it defers funding the repair of streets.
St. Paul has a ballot measure this year to increase sales tax in the city by 1%, with the funding going directly to improving roads and parks in the city. What is your stance on this measure to increase sales tax? What are your thoughts on the City’s current plan for how the increased funding would be spent if passed?
I oppose this increase in St. Paul’s sales tax as an unfair and unnecessary burden on our businesses and residents. The City’s claim that it is needed to fund the repair of streets, bridges and parks is not supported by any specific financial analysis of how it projected its costs; nor is there any way to control how the city would actually spend the revenue that it would obtain from an increased sales tax.
The West End of St. Paul, and especially West 7th, have long been considered prime redevelopment areas in the city, especially with the long planned Riverview Transit Corridor. What are your priorities related to housing and redevelopment? What is your current stance on West 7th as a major transit corridor? How do you balance those priorities with supporting small businesses in the area?
The City needs to not only fully engage with the residents and businesses in the West 7th area, consider their input as to how they will be impacted by these mass transit proposals, but also consider what has resulted from the mass transit systems implemented in other venues like University Avenue. So far the ridership on the trains has been very low, but the costs are extremely high. This type of redevelopment often displaces or destroys even longstanding, solid businesses. Good leadership will acknowledge the need to change course when the benefit of a project is not likely to justify the costs.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has reported that St. Paul is experiencing vast reductions in violent and property crimes this year, putting crime rates on pace to be below 2019 levels. At the same time, St. Paul is seeing historic highs in unhoused populations in the city and annual increases in emergency response calls, including a 5% increase in 2022 alone, taxing already overburdened systems. What is your approach to addressing public safety in the city to address these and many other issues?
Unhoused populations often have a combination of addiction and mental health issues that need to be addressed by professionals who provide medical and/or social services. Allowing vulnerable people to set up encampments is not helping them. It is enabling dysfunctional behavior that puts them at risk and invites a myriad of criminal behaviors. We need to establish good referral systems to divert people away from the law enforcement/criminal justice system and into programs where they can get help better tailored to their needs.