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Meet the candidate: Troy Barksdale

Ward 3 candidate

What are your three biggest priorities if you are elected? 

  1. Increase owner occupancy in Saint Paul without also inducing gentrification in vulnerable neighborhoods. 
  2. Upgrade public safety to serve our city in a more equitable fashion. 
  3. Mitigate environmental hazards through proactive infrastructural measures i.e. upgrading our sewage system. 

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 personally am not a fan of the sales tax increase since it is going to have its greatest impact on those who earn the least. However, I recognize that it is a popular ballot measure. If this question was to be voted affirmatively, the city council must apply some really specific language to how this funding is going to be spent. There will be temptation to pass resolutions which allow for varied use of this tax revenue. As for the current plan, I am ok with the 75/25 split in how the funding is supposed to be spent between streets & parks. 

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?

Owner occupied housing is a must if we want to resolve our housing crisis. As it pertains to the development of West 7th, I would not want to see many apartment complexes erected. The larger the buildings we have in this area translates to greater strain on the environment, which is critical given this area’s proximity to the river. I think West 7th as a major transit corridor is a phenomenal opportunity for public transit to thrive between two major nodes of business. As for supporting businesses, those who embed themselves in communities for the long term are most likely to gravitate towards and invest in small businesses. This is why I want to see single family zoning upheld along this area. Folks who own their homes have the greatest incentive to see their neighborhoods, including businesses, improved upon. 

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? 

So issues related to crime and emergency services have to be dealt with in a preventative fashion. This is why I am calling for budget reallocations from the police so the city may secure the public more effectively. We are spending tens of millions of dollars on police patrolling, which is a measure that helps respond to crime, yes, but offers less coverage towards the goal of preventing it. We need to commit millions, that would otherwise be spent on patrols, towards the identification & assistance of our unhoused population. The reason that our public safety systems are overburdened is a direct result of the city asking the police to respond to a myriad of tasks ranging from mundane, to unpredictable, to violent. Expanding our response teams to have more varied staff, in tandem with upgrading our emergency response communications, will result in people getting the help from someone whose skills are better tailored to their needs.

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