By Anne Holzman
Four candidates are vying for the Ward 5 seat on the St. Paul City Council. They are incumbent Amy Brendmoen and challengers Bob Blake, Jamie Hendricks and Suyapa Miranda. The following is a snapshot of each candidate:
Blake did not respond to the Bugle’s phone and email inquiries, but his website outlines who he is and why he is running for the council.
“I want to give a voice to the people in our community who have traditionally felt ignored,” the lifelong St. Paul resident and Red Lake member wrote on his site. “Growing up on the East Side, I am aware that we often get the short end of the stick. I want to ensure that we are being heard and have a seat at the table.”
Blake added he is a social justice advocate and environmentalist, who is interested in renewable energy and prison reform. “I want to use my voice as an advocate to highlight the inequities in our community and redistribute power in a way that benefits the hard-working people who live in Ward 5,” he wrote. Blake is owner of Solar Bear, an installer of solar energy, and is active in Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light (MNIPL), an interfaith coalition that is seeking to respond to the threat of climate change.
“One of my key goals is to develop workforce training in St. Paul that will prepare members of our community to take on local jobs,” he added. “This would boost our local economy and benefit residents, rather than passing off jobs to people who live outside St. Paul.”
Brendmoen, who has been City Council president since 2017, is running for her third term. She has also worked as a mediator in the Minnesota State Attorney General’s Office, as communications director for a social service nonprofit, and in advertising.
Brendmoen said her priorities include “further work on housing production, preservation and protections; holistic public safety including mental health-trained officers, data-driven deployment of staff, increased training, youth workers and restorative justice.” She added that she wants “a city budget that builds the tax base, creates efficiencies, investigates new sources of funding and engages the community in the creation process.”
Brendmoen said she will vote “yes” on the ballot question that would preserve the new garbage-collection system. “I am committed to leading the negotiation on these changes once the system has had some time to settle in,” Brendmoen said. “It’s been 12 months since the program rolled out, and things are going well, especially considering the scale of the change.”
Brendmoen lists endorsements from St. Paul DFL, St. Paul Chamber of Commerce Political Action Committee, WomenWinning, OutFront Minnesota Action, and labor organizations.
This is Hendricks’s first time running for any elected position. She has worked in health care, human services and education. “I have been an activist and advocate for children, people with disabilities, and those who have been disenfranchised,” Hendricks said. “I have taken public policy training and a number of equity trainings throughout my career. All of my work has been with equity in mind.
“I decided to run because our property taxes continue to rise steeply, our community has seen more gun violence, putting residents in danger, and I believe direct involvement and transparency is vital to make our neighborhoods better,” she said.Hendricks opposes the current trash system. “It is an unfair, high-priced, no-choice concept,” she said. “My own garbage has not always been picked up and the dumping throughout the city continues.”
Hendricks listed no public endorsements.
Miranda is running for office for the first time. She served for four years as executive director of the St. Anthony Park Community Council. She cites accomplishments in healthy food access, affordable housing, community gardens, and disability access on public transit during her tenure there. She was appointed by Gov. Mark Dayton to the Chicano Latino Affairs Council and served on the Metropolitan Council Transportation Advisory Board. Currently, she is on the board of MNSure, and is vice-chair of the Alliance for Metropolitan Stability, an organization working on housing security.
Miranda lists affordable housing, economic development (including small-business support), health and environment, and community safety as her key issues.
Miranda said she will vote “no” on the ballot question that would preserve the new garbage-collection system.
“I do believe in the idea of organized trash,” she said. “I just wish our city had a more effective trash system that was more inclusive toward all residents.”
Miranda lists endorsements from Minneapolis City Council member Andrea Jenkins, Brooklyn Park City Council member Wynfred Russell, and Francisco Gonzalez of the Minnesota Council on Latino Affairs.