Falcon Heights 2019 city election
By Anne Holzman
Voters in Falcon Heights will elect a mayor and two city council members in November.
Mayor Randy Gustafson, a council member who was appointed as mayor earlier this year when Peter Lindstrom resigned to take a Metropolitan Council post, is running for re-election. He is opposed by Dave Thomas.
Gustafson was first elected to the council in 2015. He has also served on the Falcon Heights planning commission as well as the Ramsey County Charter Commission, which he chaired for four years. He has worked on legislative staff and in the governor’s office. Currently, he is coordinator of crime prevention in the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office.
Gustafson said he is motivated by “delivering public services to those in need, be they individuals, families or organizations in effective and cost-efficient methods. Local government touches people’s lives in many ways. Falcon Heights is a nice community and a well-run city. I am motivated to keep that the legacy of my service.”
Thomas teaches social studies at Nawayee Center School in Minneapolis. He is a veteran of the U.S. Army/Minnesota National Guard and served in Iraq. He has served as a Falcon Heights parks commissioner and firefighter.
Thomas said he wants to move the city’s election dates to even years to coincide with state and national elections in order to boost voter turnout and save money. He also supports strong parks and youth programming.
“I do not support further high-density development in Falcon Heights until our infrastructure needs are met,” Thomas said. But he does support construction of a traffic circle at Roselawn and Snelling avenues, citing traffic management and pollution reduction.
Meanwhile, three candidates are running for two at-large seats on the City Council: Kay Andrews, Adam Sychla, and Yakasah Wehyee.
Andrews has served on the city’s planning and human rights commissions, and on the Policing and Inclusion Task Force formed in 2016 in response to Philando Castile’s death. She was also president of Northeast Youth and Family Services and served on various county boards dealing with youth services, vision loss, and other matters.
“I want to continue to strengthen intervention and building a collaborative community,” Andrews said. She also is concerned about “safe and healthy parks and neighborhoods for everybody,” and the balance between city services and “solid fiscal responsibility.” She said she has been endorsed by former mayors Lindstrom, Tom Baldwin and Hugh Gehrz.
Sychla recently moved to Falcon Heights for graduate study at the University of Minnesota. This is his first time running for public office. He lists governing experience with two international nonprofits and currently serves on the U of M student senate.
Sychla said he has longstanding interest in serving in representative government. He said he would offer a new voice on the Falcon Heights council, noting that when he moved to the city “I realized there were no renters on the city council.” He wants to push to update infrastructure and work on “green initiatives.” He said he wants to “create a Falcon Heights that people who come here after me will feel comfortable in, while keeping it comfortable for the people who already live here.”
Wehyee is also new to running for office. In addition to a master’s degree in political science, Wehyee lists nonprofit service with three organizations. Born in Liberia, Wehyee grew up in the Ivory Coast, Minneapolis and St. Francis. “The ability to relate to people from diverse backgrounds and views is an indispensable skill,” Wehyee said, adding that community engagement is important to him.
Wehyee said he would look for “creative solutions” to infrastructure problems such as renovating Community Park. He added, “I am motivated by the chance to support affordable housing and clean energy initiatives.”
Wehyee said he would support rent stabilization measures. His endorsements include former mayor Peter Lindstrom, Rep. Alice Hausman, Ramsey County Commissioner Trista Matascastillo, current council member Mark Miazga, and former council member Beth Mercer-Taylor.
Anne Holzman, a former St. Anthony Park resident, is a regular contributor to the Park Bugle.