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Meet the candidate: Saura Jost

Ward 3 candidate

What are your three biggest priorities if you are elected? 

Transportation and Infrastructure: As a civil engineer, I will bring unique, technical qualifications to city hall to make sure that our roads, transit, and basic systems to not just be functioning, but thriving, and that means planning with an eye to the future to meet our growing needs and our obligation to climate justice. 

Housing and Local Businesses: The way St. Paul supports its families and local businesses will significantly impact its future. Everyone deserves a safe and stable place to call home. We need to add more homes so that families have a place to live which means encouraging density, affordable housing, and making modifications to our zoning code. 

Connecting with Community: As a community member with a family that does not look like many of the families in our Ward, I understand the importance of having a seat at the table when decisions are being made and to feel represented and heard by leadership. I also believe that our public leadership should be responsive and engaged with its community which creates a real opportunity to reshape the way we do public engagement and broaden our conversations to represent our community more fully. 

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? 

We need to make a historic investment in our current infrastructure, especially in our roads. For too long, we’ve delayed necessary maintenance and improvement, and action must be immediately taken to stave off even costlier repairs. As a civil engineer, I particularly appreciate the scale of the challenge we face, and magnitude of funding needed. The 1% sales tax is also an opportunity to ask for people who come into our city to chip in to make sure that our roads can continue to serve everyone who visits St. Paul. 

I am excited to bring my technical expertise and project management experience to the Council. With the level of investment we’re seeking as a city for our infrastructure, it’s an opportune time to re-examine our repair and replacement procedures. I want to make the repairs we are doing to be built to last, climate resilient, and economically efficient. We need to also prioritize them in a way that is equitable and minimizes disruptions to residents and businesses. 

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? 

Our goal should be to make sure that all of us have safe, stable, and affordable housing. We need to make sure that we’re making it so that people aren’t priced out of their homes, and that we’re using our development funds to support the creation of deeply affordable housing. I’m excited about the opportunities this will bring to make West 7th more of a destination for others and expanding reliable transit options for residents which are much needed. I’m looking forward to hearing more from our neighbors to continue to solicit feedback on the Corridor to make sure we get full community input on how it will best support residents, businesses, and to address any concerns. 

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? 

All of us deserve to feel safe in our neighborhoods, regardless of our background. I believe in a proactive and holistic approach to public safety. This allows law enforcement to respond more to criminal issues, and other more specialized personnel to address individuals and families in crisis allows for a more effective and tailored response to other emergency situations. I’m looking forward to bringing my engineering expertise in process improvement to make sure that our city resources are being optimally used to address emergencies, so that our response can be efficient and equitable. I also believe that dealing with issues, like housing insecurity, at their root is the best way to prevent many of these emergency situations in the first place. I’m particularly excited to be working with County Attorney Choi to implement some of his juvenile justice initiatives that are geared toward getting parents and children in crisis the immediate assistance that they need to prevent further crises from escalating.

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