Neighborhood NewsPublic Interest

Shaking up St. Paul-itics

Changes are coming to City Hall following the 2023 election.

This year’s local election saw four members deciding not to run again, including Ward 3 Councilmember Chris Tolbert and Council President Amy Brendmoen, bringing four new members to the City Council, which will be all female and predominantly people of color for the first time in the city’s history.

In addition, voters decided on an increased sales tax in the city and elected four members to the Board of Education.

Noecker wins reelection

Rebecca Noecker won reelection on November 7 to represent St. Paul’s Ward 2 in the City Council. This will be Noecker’s third term.

“I’m excited to keep working hard to make St. Paul a better place for working families, a place where all kids get off to a great start and all people feel safe and free to thrive,” Noecker said in a statement. 

First elected in 2015, Noecker has been at the center of several issues facing the city and the West End, including the Justus Ramsey House and Listening House controversies, the redevelopment of Pedro Park, updating the city’s firearm discharge ordinance to require all firearms to be safely stored and secured with a locking device, the passage of the city’s rent control measures and the establishment of a reparations committee in St. Paul.

Noecker will remain as the most tenured member heading into the next term. 

Noecker received over 63% of the first choice votes, winning every precinct in the Ward. 

Saura Jost prevails in Ward 3 

Saurau Jost was elected to be the next City Council representative in St. Paul’s Ward 3, replacing long time incumbent Chris Tolbert.

Jost received almost 48.5% of the first choice votes in Ward 3 on election day, just shy of the 50% threshold for avoiding an instant runoff on ranked choice ballots. She received more than the roughly 200 votes needed when Ramsey County officials counted second choice votes from November 10-12 to surpass 50% of the vote.

“I’m ready to get to work, with my community and my Council colleagues, to improve our aging infrastructure, take bold steps for climate action and address our city’s need for safe and affordable housing’” Jost said in a statement on social media. 

Jost, a civil engineer, joins what will be the first all-female City Council in the next term. She is also the first female Councilmember from Ward 3.

She replaces longtime incumbent councilmember Christ Tolbert, who elected to not seek reelection this year. 

Sales tax hike approved by St. Paul voters

St. Paul voters approved a 1% sales tax increase in the city on November 7 by a nearly 2:1 margin. 

Elected officials put forth the ballot measure, which they say will raise nearly $1 billion over the next 20 years, to pay for street repair and parks improvement, with about 75% of the funding going to streets and the other 25% to parks. 

City leaders claim the sales tax increase is a necessary step to pay for our infrastructure, pointing out that a sales tax increase will also allow visitors to the city to help bear the burden of the costs rather than increasing property taxes on St. Paul’s residents. Opponents largely point to the fact that St. Paul will now have one of the highest sales tax rates in the state.

According to the Department of Public Works, most roads have a 60 year lifecycle and St. Paul’s streets are only planned to be replaced every 124 years. Public Works has already developed a 20 year plan for which streets they will be prioritizing, including portions of Shepherd Road and Cleveland Avenue in the West end and a portion Kellogg Boulevard in downtown. 

The $738 million allocated through the tax increase for road improvement and reconstruction projects is planned to include a total of 24 arterial and collector roads, including some bridges, over 44 miles in each of the seven wards. 

An additional $246 million is budgeted for Parks and Recreation improvements, with a focus on the city’s parks in the worst condition. Additionally, revenue from the increased sales tax would fund a new community center on the East Side of the city, a multi-purpose athletic complex, an environmental learning space at Crosby Farm Regional Park and investment in the River Balcony project along Kellogg Boulevard in downtown.

Read more: To find more details on the plans on the impacts of the 1% sales tax increase, vitis 

Four elected to School Board

Voters in St. Paul elected four members to the Board of Education on November 7. Carlo Franco, Chauntyll Allen, Erica Valliant and Yusef Carrillo were the top four vote getters of the seven candidates on this year’s ballot.

Valiant and Franco will be new faces to the school board, winning their first election. Allen will serve her second term on the Board of Education while Carillo will be serving his first full term after being appointed in 2021 to replace the seat vacated by Steve Marchese. 

Long-time incumbent Zuki Ellis lost her reelection bid, coming in fifth in the voting, about 4,000 votes behind Carillo.

The four members elected represent a clean sweep of candidates endorsed by the St. Paul Federation of Teachers, the district’s school teacher union.

The winners will be joining Halla Henderson, Jim Vue and Uriah Ward on the School Board.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *