Election 2015: St. Paul City Council Wards 4 and 5
We asked the Ward 4 and Ward 5 City Council candidates to tell us what they saw as the top three challenges facing the City of St. Paul and what they would do to address those challenges if they are elected.
Tom Goldstein has had a varied career and most recently has been a magazine publisher and editor, as well as an affordable-housing advocate, job-placement coordinator, St. Paul Public Schools board member, legislative aide, labor organizer and
neighborhood activist. He is a co-founder of the Connect Saint Paul broadband campaign and Historic Hamline Village.
“The quickest way to build wealth and prosperity in a community is through job creation, which must be the city’s main focus,” says Goldstein. “We also need to leverage city resources that maximize educational outcomes for children, including a citywide mentoring program and meaningful opportunities to gain ‘on-the-job’ exposure to the business world and nonprofit community; put people to work rebuilding the city’s neglected infrastructure—not stadiums; reform our zoning code so that neighborhoods are protected against senseless teardowns; and develop a community-owned broadband network—the only way we can close the digital divide and ensure affordable, high-speed internet for all.”
Russ Stark is completing his second term representing Ward 4 on the St. Paul City Council and currently serves as council president. Prior to being elected, Stark worked in
the nonprofit sector with a focus on community-based development and sustainable transportation.
The top three issues facing the City of St. Paul, according to Stark are:
- “Continuing development along the Green Line and working toward additional transit investments in St. Paul, which will in turn attract additional investment and grow the tax base, and improve mobility, livability and sustainability of our great city.
2.”Moving to organized trash collection in the City of St. Paul, as well as collection of household organics and wheeled recycling carts in the alleys.
- “Ensuring that our residents of color have more pathways to prosperity in St. Paul. This includes ensuring that the City’s workforce is more reflective of the racial and ethnic diversity of our residents.”
Amy Brendmoen is seeking her second term on the St. Paul City Council. She has lived in St. Paul for 19 years and resides in South Como with her three school-aged sons. She
has a B.A. in political science from the University of Wisconsin. Before being elected, she served as a mediator and spokesperson for the Minnesota attorney general, as an account executive for a local ad agency and as marketing director for Children’s Home Society. She currently serves as chair of the city’s Housing and Redevelopment Authority.
What are the top challenges facing Saint Paul?
“Developing affordable and dignified housing options to accommodate our growth, as well as improving the housing stock we already have,” Brendmoen says. “As our population ages, the need for secure, affordable housing and options for aging in place is a huge challenge facing our city. Just recently at the senior apartment building, Como by the Lake, over 80 elderly and disabled people were faced with the possibility of losing their apartments to a market-rate condo development. Combining the forces of the residents, the community and city leadership, we were able to achieve a positive outcome there.
“Our rich immigrant community is an asset and at the same time presents unique challenges for both integration and delivery of city services. We need to work harder to overcome cultural and language barriers to ensure that all families feel empowered to join in civic life.”
Brendmoen says she’s concerned with how the city delivers services to residents. “So much of our work is driven by complaints made directly by residents,” she says, which works better for people and neighborhoods that actively report problems. “In areas where neighbors are struggling just managing their own daily lives or where residents may not speak English as their first language, I can see a visible difference in how that area is served.” Brendmoen wants to see “a more organized system of scheduled service-delivery (tree trimming, street repair, dumping removal, sidewalk infill, landlord certification).”
Though she feels the city is “going in the right direction,” it is handicapped by inadequate state funding under Local Government Aid, the lack of a transportation plan that recognizes the state’s responsibility to “equitably fund heavily utilized inner city street and bridge infrastructure” and the fact that one-third of the city’s parcels are “off of the tax rolls,” which includes churches, parks, schools, hospitals, nonprofits, private colleges and, as the capital city, a large number of government buildings.
David Glass describes himself as “an American Indian and Irish kid who grew up on the East Side of St. Paul.” He graduated from Johnson High School and received degrees in
business and counseling from Metro State University. After leaving 3M, where he was employed as a marketing manager, his wife, Pam, and he moved into the Moo Park neighborhood in 1995. They managed Black Bear Crossings at Como Lakeside Pavilion for nearly 20 years. Glass currently sits on boards for the Minnesota Housing Partnership, Ain Dah Yung Youth Services Center, Juel Fairbanks, a chemical dependency treatment facility; National Coalition Against Racism in Sports and Media; and the Minnesota American Indian Chamber of Commerce.
The top issues facing the City of St. Paul over the next four years, according to Glass are:
“Providing better basic services for neighborhoods is a priority for me. Ward 5 has some of the highest crime areas in the city. Sylvan and Front Rec centers were torn down and replaced with restrooms. Safety, street repair, snow plowing and rec centers should be funded first,” he says.
“Seventh Street, Selby, Payne Avenue, all have experienced a renaissance and renewed prosperity due to efforts by their councilmembers. In Ward 5, boundary-to-boundary, we have the greatest disparities regarding household incomes and cost burdened households in the city. We need to address efforts to help lift up our neighbors. I’ll lead the charge to bring a renaissance to the North End and Rice Street. We will work to shrink the achievement gap for our communities in the North End and Payne Phalen.
“Finding new dollars and collaborating with others to provide rec centers for our kids for after-school and supervised activities will be a priority.”
If elected, Glass said he would provide mentoring to help local start-up businesses and guidance “through the myriad of city-rules processes.”
“Promoting local businesses and cultural events is on my to-do list. The city should better manage problem rental homes and promote home ownership. Better city decisions will happen with more neighborhood involvement and listening, better planning, and better project management.”
David Sullivan-Nightengale grew up on the West Side of St. Paul. He graduated from South St. Paul High School and enlisted in the Army Reserves with the plan to become an
FAA air traffic controller. The Army had different plans, he says, and he was sent to the U.S. Military Academy Preparatory School and then graduated from West Point in 1998 after completing an electrical engineering field of study. He was partially paralyzed in a parachuting accident while in the Army and came back to Minnesota with an honorable discharge. Since then, he has worked as a safety engineer for Honeywell, Lockheed Martin and at the Pentagon in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Currently, he works for Det-Tronics engineering fire and hazardous detection systems. He’s an organic gardener and makes his own wine and mead.
Sullivan-Nightengale describes the challenges facing St. Paul below:
“Changing government to better represent our diverse population,” he says. “On average, we have a ratio of 42,000 citizens for each council member—the highest of Minnesota’s largest cities. We need to change the charter to increase representation, and I would also like to add at-large members back onto the council and recruit more minorities for the district councils.
“We must fill empty houses and businesses to improve our standard of living for all people.
“We need to ordain a quality-assurance program for all city products and services that will improve safety and save money for important public projects.
“As an engineer, I can help design our government to meet the needs of all our people consistently, justly and economically.”