Letters: Falcon Heights voters and candidates weigh in
Readers support candidates
In over 30 years of public life in Falcon Heights, including 12 years as a council member and mayor, I have rarely, if ever, seen a candidate for council whose leadership skills and long-term commitment to our city and its residents have already touched so many lives in such positive ways as has Paula Mielke’s.
If you’ve taken advantage of our highly regarded parks and recreation programs, you’ve benefited from Paula’s time determining policy, programming and activities while serving on our Parks and Recreation Commission.
If you’ve participated in Falcon Heights Elementary School’s public events, such as the school carnival or opening day parade, you’ve enjoyed Paula’s work. All Falcon Heights students continue to benefit from funds raised through the annual Read-A-Thon, originated by Paula.
The nationally recognized Ramsey County Library, so important to large numbers of our city’s residents, gained from Paula’s time on the Ramsey County Library Board, two years as chair.
After the tragic shooting of Philando Castile, as many of us hoped for ways our city could show compassion for the victims while struggling to move forward, it was Paula who organized the group now known as Falcon Heights: We Can Do Better, and organized its multi-faceted response. Motivating residents and forging alliances with numerous other groups, Paula’s leadership brought about public gatherings to explore evolving concepts in policing, recognizing and confronting unconscious bias in daily life and other important topics.
It was Paula’s action-centered, future-oriented leadership that led to a petition asking the City Council for a task force to articulate a set of value-based actions that will, for years to come, guide and demonstrate the sincerity of our city’s efforts at positive, practical change.
Paula Mielke’s demonstrated, tangible commitment to our city’s residents, outstanding organizational and motivational skills, and the boundless energy she has shown following through on her ideas make her stand out among this typically fine slate of candidates for our city council. Please join me in accepting Paula’s offer to put her skills and talents to work for all of us by voting Paula Mielke on Nov. 7.
Tom Baldwin, former mayor of Falcon Heights
On Nov. 7, we have the chance to fill two seats on the Falcon Heights City Council. Having worked with and been inspired by Paula Mielke, we know she will work actively and effectively for positive change in our community.
Paula is a small-business owner with experience in customer service and balancing budgets. A resident of Falcon Heights since 1990, she has consistently contributed to the community: representing the city on the Ramsey County Library Board and serving on our Parks and Recreation Commission. After 9/11 she was a neighborhood liaison promoting the intergenerational dialogue toolkit developed under then Mayor Sue Gehrz. Paula was also president of the Falcon Heights Elementary School PTA when her two sons were students there, and she started their fundraising read-a-thon that continues to this day.
Paula’s compassion and activism blossomed forth again last year. Many community members, shocked by the shooting of Philando Castile, began attending Falcon Heights City Council meetings to express their concern and ask for action. Paula had already reached out to city staff and officials to offer her assistance, and now she invited us, her neighbors around the city, into her home and inspired us to brainstorm grassroots actions. With Paula, we made proposals to the city, such as calling for a citizen task force on policing. She also helped us reach out to the broader community through forums on race and social justice. She listens and then leads by networking and empowering others to generate and act upon creative ideas.
Paula has the experience, insight and passion to recognize what needs to be done and give our city a more responsive and effective council. We need leaders who truly listen to residents and their concerns, who step up in times of crisis, who have the vision to work for a better future for all of us. On Nov. 7, we urge you to vote Paula.
Sarah Chambers, Peter Demerath, Melissa Harl, Beth Mercer-Taylor and Rebecca Montgomery, Falcon Heights
Joyce Lyon, St. Paul
Falcon Heights voters will fill two open seats on the City Council on Tuesday, Nov. 7. This is an opportunity to add fresh perspectives and new leadership to the council’s work. Candidate Paula Mielke has demonstrated a passion for finding effective ways to help our community move forward in the wake of Philando Castile’s death to become a more just, proactive and inclusive home for our diverse population.
Paula founded and has led a residents’ group, Falcon Heights We Can Do Better, through which participants have studied issues of policing and housing and encouraged city leaders to take action. Members have actively supported the Community Conversations and resulting report of the Task Force on Policing and Inclusion commissioned by the City Council. In my experience, Paula listens intently, finds areas of common interest, remains positive and empowers people to use their talents in service to the city. Her own service began nearly two decades ago as a Falcon Heights Elementary School PTA member and president and continued as member and chair of the Parks and Recreation Commission. Now she is in her eighth year as Falcon Heights representative on the Ramsey County Library Board, which she also chaired.
Paula is committed to continue the work begun by the task force, improve communication between residents and government, and find new ways to increase citizen involvement. She deserves your vote Nov. 7.
Nancy Peterson, Falcon Heights
We are in a season in our country dominated by heart-rending stories of violence and loss. At the same time, we are witnessing partisan rancor more extreme than I have seen in my considerable decades of life.
For that reason, I am delighted that Melanie Leehy is a candidate for city council in Falcon Heights.
I have known Melanie as a neighbor and friend, but I have also had the opportunity to collaborate with her on initiatives to serve the broader civic community.
In thinking about the best leadership for the city council at this time, anyone who knows Melanie would attest to her immeasurable energy and commitment. But what seals the deal in my eyes is that Melanie brings great vision and acumen to conversations that respect diverse views and elicit positive action based on values and concerns that are not defined by political affiliation.
Tragedy that unfolded in our streets has made the modest city of Falcon Heights known throughout the country. With leadership like Melanie’s, the city of Falcon Heights can be seen for what is most authentic about it: a community of good-hearted people seeking equity and well-being that reflect the aspirations of the uniquely American experiment among the nations of the world. I heartily endorse her election.
Judy Connolly, Falcon Heights
We are writing to strongly endorse Melanie Leehy as our next Falcon Heights City Council member.
Melanie has served our city for several years in a number of capacities, most notably as the chair of the Community Engagement Committee and co-chair of the recent Inclusion and Policing Task Force. Throughout her years of service, Melanie has demonstrated substantial energy, effort and commitment to sustaining the high quality of life for which Falcon Heights is known.
She is an effective listener and problem-solver and will be committed to addressing and resolving issues in a manner that considers multiple viewpoints and builds consensus among neighbors. Most important, Melanie brings significant optimism and integrity to all that she undertakes. She will continue to do this in her role as city council member.
We know the challenges required to be an effective city council member and are confident that Melanie will do an outstanding job in this capacity. Please join us in voting for Melanie Leehy for Falcon Heights City Council on Nov. 7.
Rick and Jan Gibson Talbot, former Falcon Heights City Council members
I write in support of Melanie Leehy for city council in Falcon Heights. I had the privilege and honor of serving with Melanie during one of the city’s most trying times—the death of Philando Castille. Her character and leadership during this time exemplified a civic servant who cares deeply about her city.
Melanie’s strength and thoughtful leadership represents the best of Falcon Heights. She functions as an honest broker by honoring whomever she encounters, regardless of background or social status, for the benefit of every resident of the city.
Falcon Heights would do well to elect a tireless, compassionate and fearless leader who places the welfare of the city and others above her own. She is a living example of the principle of non sibi: We exist not for ourselves but for the benefit of others.
Ken Morris, founder and CEO of KnectIQ Inc. Woodbury, Minn.
Candidates speak out
As a 12-year resident, I have been serving Falcon Heights consistently for 11 years. My roles have been city office assistant, Neighborhood Commission chair, Community Engagement Commission chair and Falcon Heights Task Force for Community Policing and Inclusion co-chair. As a resident and city leader, I have brought forth many positive impacts to our city, from bridge building for unity with residents, activists and city officials, racial equity and inclusion recommendations, free electronics recycling events, initiating city-wide gatherings and even Little Free Libraries.
As I stated after the tragic death of Philando Castile, “We have the ability to get this right.” We are on that path and I am committed to seeing our Inclusion Recommendations fully implemented. With your help to become the next council member, I can continue and increase that service and leadership which has made positive impacts in both low-profile and difficult seasons.
I come to you with 36 years of experience in community service, including nonprofit, education and corporate sectors. My ability to genuinely listen, bring unity with diverse groups, initiate creative ideas and solutions, and understand various aspects of government are some of the strengths I carry in healthy servant leadership.
It is important that our city values fiscal responsibility, honors our senior citizens, creates opportunities for our youth and underserved, safety and environmental stewardship. My proven service and proven leadership provide the strength and courage that our city needs in this hour.
My name is Melanie Leehy, and I’m asking for your vote on Nov. 7.
Melanie Leehy, Falcon Heights
I am Mike Wade and I am running for a seat on the Falcon Heights City Council.
I am a hard-working father, author, speaker and publisher of my home-based company, “Mizchief’s Ink Publications,” where I have helped independent writers and filmmakers with publication services. I have a background in financial services and consumer banking. My early brushes with the law as a young man was a baptism by fire, through which a passion for humanity and community was born.
My unique experiences along with my position in life allow me to speak from a perspective of the excluded and disenfranchised.
I have been a Minnesota resident for nine years and a Falcon Heights resident and good neighbor for three years. It was the tragic event of Philando Castile in July 2016 in which my voice was first heard. During a community event where the subject was on community policing, the topic of “sensitivity training” for police across Minnesota was brought up as a suggestion from a panel that consisted of members of the ACLU, NAACP, the Women’s League of Roseville and a retired police officer. I posed the question, “Why do we need to teach police officers how not to shoot black youth when they don’t have to be taught how not to shoot white youth?” From there, I became a vocal advocate for the inclusion of all those who live in and travel through Falcon Heights.
I was approached by community members to apply for a seat on the Falcon Heights Task Force for Community Policing and Inclusion, and I gladly accepted. Being the only black American on the Task Force and a dominant voice, I presented perspectives and ideas that challenged the way the other task force members and city councilmen envisioned inclusion and equity in the community. I played a key role in helping develop the task force recommendations approved by the Falcon Heights City Council.
There is still much work to be done. Seeing the promise of Falcon Heights, I believe that Falcon Heights can be a catalyst or hub for healing between the many communities throughout Minnesota. I see this being done by the Falcon Heights City Council promoting more community inclusiveness, community education and safety.
Mike Wade, Falcon Heights
During the last few weeks I have continued to talk to Falcon Heights residents at forums, meet and greets, front porches, homes, apartments and in one instance on someone’s roof. My conversations have reinforced my belief that I have the right combination of government experience, leadership, demeanor and commitment to move the city forward.
I hope to earn your vote on Nov. 7, and I’m proud to have the endorsements of numerous citizens, policymakers, Out Front Minnesota and the St. Paul Regional Labor Federation.
Mark Miazga, Falcon Heights