Meet the District 12 St. Anthony Park board candidates

District 12 will hold its election for its Board of Directors in early November. Voting will be open online from Wednesday, Nov. 2, to Sunday, Nov. 6. Voting tables will be set up at Tim and Tom’s Speedy Market and at Hampden Park Co-op on Friday, Nov. 4. Please call Suyapa Miranda or Cailin Rogers at District 12 to find out the times that the booths will be set up, 651-649-5992.

District community organizer Cailin Rogers will also host a “Coffee with Cailin” where attendees can vote at Workhorse Coffee on Nov. 4, 7:30 to 9 a.m. Election results will be announced the week of Nov. 14.

Four candidates are running for seats on the board. Find out more about them below.

Charles Christopherson

Charles Christopherson

 

Charles Christopherson has lived in St. Anthony Park for more than 30 years and has served on the St. Anthony Park Community Council for the last year. He would represent the north side of the neighborhood if elected.

What makes you a good candidate to serve in this role? What skills would you bring to the SAPCC Board? I believe thoughtful consideration is the key, along with respectful discussion from all sides.

How would you help foster the future of St. Anthony Park? By being respectful and listening and being open before coming to a conclusion.

How would you fulfill and build upon the commitment SAPCC has made to equity, diversity and inclusion in our organization? Values are what matters. These values—equity, diversity and inclusion—are values I share as a professional and on a personal level. Taking time to consider actions and how they fit these values is what is important.

 

Bettsy Hjelseth

Bettsy Hjelseth

 

Bettsy Hjelseth is a graduate student at the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs and a research analyst at the Department of Employment and Economic Development in downtown St. Paul. She would represent the south side of the neighborhood if elected.

What makes you a good candidate to serve in this role? What skills would you bring to the SAPCC Board? I am very committed and hard working. I enjoy attending board meetings and getting to meet new people. I will bring a positive attitude, open mind and strong work ethic to each and every meeting and event that I attend.

How would you help foster the future of St. Anthony Park? By bringing in new ideas. I think St. Anthony Park is such a great place to live, and I want others to feel that way, too. Diversity is important, and I want everyone to feel happy and excited about being able to live, work and play in St. Anthony Park.

How would you fulfill and build upon the commitment SAPCC has made to equity, diversity and inclusion in our organization? By listening to everyone and welcoming all ideas. I want everyone to feel like the SAPCC is a place that they can go to voice their concerns and ideas.

 

Max Herzberg

Max Herzberg

 

Max Herzberg is a graduate student and has been a member of the St. Anthony Park Community Council and the council’s Equity Committee for the last year. He would represent the south portion of the neighborhood if elected.

What makes you a good candidate to serve in this role? What skills would you bring to the SAPCC Board? As a current member of the SAPCC board of directors and Equity Committee, I am already familiar with the issues facing south St. Anthony Park and the district as a whole. Over the course of the past year I have developed relationships with fellow board and committee members, council staff and community members. These relationships have been, and will continue to be, key to the thoughtful decision-making inherent in the work of the SAPCC board. Finally, my community volunteer work in St. Paul has focused primarily on educational and community equity. I will be able to draw upon these experiences as the St. Anthony Park Community Council continues to develop its equity focus for years to come.

How would you help foster the future of St. Anthony Park? As a member of the board of directors in the last year I have learned the importance of open and honest communication within our community, especially between local organizations and residents. In the next two years I will continue to emphasize the importance of community engagement while serving on the board. Further, as a young resident of St. Anthony Park I recognize the importance and opportunity of the next few years in our neighborhood. Though these developments will contribute to the growing vibrancy of the neighborhood, they will also pose new challenges as we work to maintain the balance between industry, business, and residential areas so engrained in the history St. Anthony Park. Equity remains central to all of these projects, and I will continue to emphasize its importance as is detailed below.

How would you fulfill and build upon the commitment SAPCC has made to equity, diversity and inclusion in our organization? Over the course of the last three months I, with the assistance of the equity committee, have begun drafting a set of guidelines for use in the St. Anthony Park Community Council’s 10-year planning process. These guidelines are meant to facilitate progress specifically in the council’s commitment to “equity in all we do.” The resulting document will be utilized by the board and its committees to ensure that each initiative included in the 10-year plan is adopted with a consideration of the impacts that it will have on all members of our community. Chief among these considerations are improving access to the community council and its resources, fostering collaboration between diverse communities and advocating for economic equity in many forms (e.g., food, health, housing, transportation and many others).

 

Melissa Williams

Melissa Williams

 

Melissa Williams is an instructional designer who has lived in St. Anthony Park since 2003. She moved to the Twin Cities in 1998 to pursue her doctorate in American Studies at the University of Minnesota. She and her husband, Matt Hass, chose the South St. Anthony neighborhood “for its small-town feel in the midst of a big city with great resources,” she said. She would represent the south side of the neighborhood if elected.

What makes you a good candidate to serve in this role? What skills would you bring to the SAPCC Board? As a family, we’ve been very involved in the St. Anthony Park neighborhood and are quite familiar with the issues the district has been addressing in recent years. My husband has worked at Hampden Park Co-op and served on the district council for about a decade. I’ve been heavily involved in the co-op and its board for about the same time. My understanding of the neighborhood’s dynamics, experience with administrative process in educational and business environments, and skill in communications, make me a strong candidate to serve on the SAPCC board. I’ve spent my entire adult life teaching, assisting others in articulating their visions and navigating bureaucracies to achieve my goals.

How will you help foster the future of St. Anthony Park? When we bought our house, we also purchased a history of St. Anthony Park from Micawber’s bookstore. I was fascinated with the description of “current-state” SAP in the early 1990s; at the time, the area was aging and largely industrial, but many of the institutions that were central to the neighborhood then are still significant and appreciated elements of the community today. This is an excellent analogy to the future I envision for St. Anthony Park. I would like to maintain the things that make our community great (like our attention to infrastructure, our charm and walkability, and our beloved businesses and community gathering places) and foster improvement where it’s needed (like the need to address economic stratification, ensure that all SAP residents are included, and cooperate with our businesses to protect the community’s environmental health). The board is currently working on its 10-year plan for the district; I want to be part of that process. We also have to be sensitive to the changing environment in which we live; we, like the rest of the world, must reckon with how climate change, economic change, and demographic change will force us to reconsider our priorities and privileges. Balancing our respect and appreciation for the past does not mean ignoring imperatives for the health of our future.

How will you fulfill and build upon the commitment SAPCC has made to equity, diversity and inclusion in our organization? At present, the board lacks female representation. My service would begin to address that disparity. I’ve also spent the last few years learning about sustainable food initiatives and food justice; we have a need within this community to address these issues with more intentionality and equity than we have. For example, recent surveys conducted by SAPCC suggest that portions of SAP are a de facto food desert, due to limited mobility, language challenges, and economic constraints. I would like to find creative ways to address those problems, taking care to truly listen to those who have the needs we’re attempting to address. We do a great job in this neighborhood of being friendly and supportive with the neighbors we see, but it’s time to actively seek out neighbors we might not encounter in our comfortable spaces (churches, local businesses, schools, etc.) so that we can promote the success of all St. Anthony Park residents.

 

 

 

 

 

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