Wards 4 and 5 primed for City Council races

By Will Rohda

Residents of Saint Paul will head to the polls Nov. 7. Wards 4 and 5 will vote on city council seats along with a sales tax increase question. Here’s a breakdown of races in the wards in the Bugle’s coverage area:

Ward 4

Includes St. Anthony Park

Mitra Jalali

Mitra Jalali, the incumbent, runs on a platform that focuses on building community wealth, climate action, community-first public action and affordable housing.

According to Jalali’s website, over her past term, she has created and passed policies that help small businesses. If reelected, she hopes to continue her work in economic development by exploring policies such as land-value tax and higher vacant-building fees to hold out-of-state investors and speculative real estate interests more accountable.

Since 2018 Jalali has advocated and created systems for non-police emergency response. If reelected she hopes to continue her work in funding community-led neighborhood safety programs.

During her time in office, she has supported efforts to build 26 new miles of bikeways across Saint Paul. She also led efforts to eliminate parking spot minimums for multiple unit dwellings, to allow builders to design for transit.

Looking ahead, Jalali wants to explore the creation of a citywide parking fee to raise city revenue to recoup the high cost of free parking on our city streets.

Robert Bushard

Bushard, who unsuccessfully ran for Minnesota State Senate District 64 in 2022, is Jalali’s only challenger. Bushard does not have a campaign website and has not responded to requests for information as of publication time.

Ward 5

Includes Como Park

City Council President Amy Brendmoen will step down. Four candidates are looking to take this seat.

David Greenwood-Sánchez

According to his website, David Greenwood-Sánchez’s priorities include restoring the voice of the neighborhoods, balancing the budget responsibly, promoting affordable housing, strengthening public schools and creating a healthy environment. He has earned a bachelor’s degree in economics, a master’s degree in public policy and a doctorate in political science.

Sánchez is opposed to the proposed 1% sales tax increase, which he calls “bad governance” that does not align with progressive values and the progressive vision. He pointed out that the property tax for this year is approaching 15% and the sales tax is about to reach 10%. “Neither of these policies makes people feel included or are in alignment with progressive values,” he said.

Sánchez also hopes to make people feel like they are a part of the city. Sánchez wants to restore the voice of the neighborhood by creating more opportunities for the community to be involved in government decisions.

Hwa Jeong Kim

Hwa Jeong Kim’s listed priorities are affordable housing, economic development, climate and community safety. According to Kim’s website, she believes that housing your family should be a right, not a privilege.

Kim believes that people should be able to find their daily needs and have access to a job all within a 10-minute walk from their home. She would support workforce training programs and expanded initiatives to support small businesses. To achieve this Kim wants the city to support mixed-use developments.

Considering climate, Kim wants to transition the workforce into clean and sustainable energy sources using job skill training programs.

According to Kim’s website, she wants to increase community safety by allocating more city resources to the North End Community Center (NECC). With increased resources, she hopes that the NECC will have more programming, youth jobs and hours that meet the needs of the community.

Nate Nins

Nate Nins runs on a platform of safe streets, economic development, housing and responsible government. According to his website, he is a Marine Corps veteran and holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and political science.

According to Nins’ website, he believes that people deserve to feel safe in their communities. Nins hopes to expand existing public safety resources, re-establish neighborhood youth corps, support appropriate response initiatives and create a pipeline for community members to become peace officers.

Nins hopes to create economic development by expanding apprenticeship and on-the-job training programs in schools. He also hopes to formalize a Neighborhood Development Center in the North End.

Nins wants to make the government more responsible, pledging to be visibly accountable and accessible to the community. Nins said he hopes to expand engagement and communication with residents.

Pam Tollefson

Pam Tollefson’s main issues include public safety, housing, fiscal responsibility, early education, advocacy for older adults, homelessness, historical landmarks and city infrastructure.

Tollefson said she believes that police are essential to ensuring public safety and ought to have the resources and support they need to do their jobs effectively. She believes in promoting accountability and transparency in the police department and hopes to do this by supporting efforts to connect the community with police officers.

According to Tollefson’s website, she would work to increase the supply of affordable housing using public-private partnerships, inclusionary zoning and government financial incentives.

Tollefson wants to invest in early childhood education by expanding the accessibility of high-quality pre-K programs. Conversely, she wants to advocate for older adults who are planning for their retirement or are already retired by, among other things, reviewing policies such as the increasing property tax.

On the issue of homelessness, Tollefson says she wants to address the root cause by using targeted initiatives that support mental health, addiction recovery and job training.

Question on the ballot for voter approval

Voters will also decide on a sales tax increase for improvements to roads and parks. The sales tax would increase by 1% and over the next 20 years it would provide $738 million for street improvements and $246 million for park improvements.

Specifically, voters will be asked, “Should the City of Saint Paul establish a one percent (1%) sales and use tax over the next 20 years to generate $738,000,000 to repair and improve streets and bridges, $246,000,000 to improve parks and recreation facilities, and associated bonding costs?”

According to the Saint Paul city website, a “Yes” vote will fund these improvements through the proposed sales tax increase. A “No” vote will fund these improvements through other local revenue sources, primarily from increased property taxes.

More specific information on where and how the money will be used can be found on the city website at stpaul.gov/salestax. 

Will Rohda majors in journalism at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and is an intern for the Bugle.

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