By Anne Holzman
Voters in Falcon Heights will fill two seats on the City Council from among five candidates running in the Nov. 2 election.
Incumbent Melanie Leehy is running for a second term. Mark Miazga’s term also expires at the end of this year; and his name is not on the ballot.
All city council seats are at-large, meaning they represent all of Falcon Heights.
Here are the candidates:
Michael Arcand has been self-employed for 25 years and “lived the challenges of running a business and staying in business.”
Arcand, of Falcon Plumbing LLC, said he has learned that “communication is the key to a successful relationship between all parties. Many residents I have spoken with would like to see better communication with our elected officials. I will strive to make that happen.”
Arcand listed his priorities as transparency, communication and fiscal responsibility.
“I see the need to raise awareness of our citizens to be involved in the choices our local government makes,” he said. “I would strive to promote our streets/neighborhoods as a safe place of inclusivity to voice your opinion and fight the apathy that sometimes creeps into our lives.
“This is our community and if we lose what makes us a strong and diverse neighborhood, we lose what makes this city special.”
Melanie Leehy’s past roles include chairing the city’s Community Engagement Commission and co-chairing the Task Force for Community Policing and Inclusion.
As a council member, Leehy has been involved with Parks and Recreation, the Planning Commission and the Ramsey County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council. She has helped organize environmental events.
Leehy has worked in the nonprofit, education and corporate sectors and said her background in banking has helped her guide city budget deliberations.
“My ability to genuinely listen, bring unity with diverse groups, initiate creative ideas and solutions are key traits,” she added.
Leehy said her priorities include fiscal responsibility, safety, honoring residents and guests of all ages and backgrounds, maintaining excellent environmental stewardship and “care for our infrastructure and amenities including our present need of a new park building.”
She said she hopes to “find joy in seeing our community connectedness blossom.”
Sue Majerus retired in 2016 from a series of roles with Ramsey County and now is on the county’s Charter Commission. She also represents Falcon Heights on the Nine North Cable Commission. She works with the Como Park Falcon Heights Living at Home Block Nurse Program assisting seniors with technology.
Majerus said she would “address the disparity of police services by race and/or ethnicity” and would create a citizen advisory board to improve transparency in policing.
She expressed concern about investing in Community Park, which sits on land owned by the University of Minnesota, and proposed that council “think out of the box” about options to improve the city’s parks.
Majerus said, “Let’s focus on running the city of Falcon Heights like a business,” with an emphasis on looking for outside sources of funding “to minimize the impact on property taxes.”
Eric Meyer has worked as an organizer with TakeAction MN and the Minnesota Nurses Association. He is the founder and director of Generation Atomic, which advocates for nuclear energy as a solution to climate change. Meyer said his work has acquainted him with “businesses, policymakers, activists and everyone in-between.”
Meyer said he would “bring some fresh ideas on how to make our community feel more connected,” with a focus on connecting communities of different backgrounds. While in graduate school, Meyer said he developed “a system for community members to share knowledge and resources, for example, connecting a person with a love of woodworking or gardening to others who would like to learn those skills or borrow tools in order to do them.”
While campaigning, Meyer said, he has heard about “many small but important changes” from constituents, “such as decreasing residential speed limits.” He promised “forward-thinking, responsible and responsive city government.”
Nicole Porter said she is running for city council “because I’ve gotten the feeling that no one who ever held the office before really has any understanding of what life looks like on the other side.”
She said she has experience as an entrepreneur and in residing in affordable housing.
“I’ve been priced out of neighborhoods due to gentrification and I’ve also been a beneficiary of affordable housing,” Porter said. “I know what works and what really doesn’t.”
Porter also praised Minnesota’s commitment to the arts and support for entrepreneurship. “I think that’s what is going to be required for the future of Falcon Heights,” she said.
Porter said the city’s most pressing issue “is real estate development without investing in community. I’m so excited to see that our community is growing, but I would like to see growth with green spaces and community outreach programs.”
Anne Holzman, a former St. Anthony Park resident, covers Falcon Heights and Lauderdale governmental news for the Bugle.