LISTENING AND ANSWERING YOUR QUESTIONS
Why are you running for city council?
I am running to make St. Paul an even better city. As a long-time resident of Ward 1 for almost 30 years, I am the best voice to represent our community, including and listening to everyone, so we don't alienate parts of the community, especially when we have to make tough decisions. As a full time educator, part time small business owner, and community leader, I believe a leader is a servant of the community. I believe that respect, courtesy, trust, responsiveness, and communication are essential to creating a collaborative atmosphere. Leadership is about coming to an agreement that can be upheld by all sides. Leadership is taking that agreement and making it work. In my style of leadership, we can create win-win situations. As a community, we can work together to solve them, because when we work together, we rise together.
What do you consider the biggest challenge and conversely, the biggest opportunity in St. Paul?
The biggest opportunity in St Paul is the strength of our diversity. An outsider would first notice the excellence of our many ethnic restaurants. We have great festivals, celebrating our diverse communities. We have many languages and cultures. Just living here is like always experiencing the pleasure of traveling abroad.
Our biggest challenge in St Paul is that we have a smaller tax base due to a significant portion of our city not having to pay taxes such as government buildings, colleges, schools and nonprofits. As a city, we have to be more cautious with our money.
Where do you stand on the $12 million Summit Avenue Bike-way Proposal?
One of my principles is to listen to the people and then to represent them well. As I walked and talked to people in the neighborhoods around Summit Avenue, the opposition to the Summit Avenue Bikeway Proposal is clear and resounding. The neighborhood deserves a city council person to represent that opposition in the strongest terms.
Summit Av is already the nicest place to bike. When St Paul as a whole cannot be safe for bikes, it does not make sense to create a few miles of an even safer bike area at an exorbitant cost. Included in this plan is speeding up traffic. With same high number of intersections/conflict points, that would increase the danger to bikes.
The planned loss of hundreds of trees would be devastating to beauty of Summit Avenue. It is contrary to our preservation goals. Summit Avenue cannot continue to be named one of the 10 Great Streets in the U.S. without the grand majestic mature trees.
St Paul should preserve the current beautiful Summit Avenue!
What would you do to stabilize priority taxes?
Friends, family, and neighbors are moving out of our great city because of high property taxes. I believe in being cautious with spending. St Paul property tax increases should be within inflation. We should move our more expensive projects to the county and state level. The state has a much greater budget and lately even a budget surplus. A city of a limited tax base like St Paul cannot afford to take on expensive problems that belong with a larger government entity. I will advocate for our more expensive projects to be paid for by the county and the state.
How can the city contribute to more affordable housing?
Given St. Paul's constrained development space, we must adopt more innovative approaches to land utilization. We should permit greater flexibility for tiny homes and accessory dwelling units. Additionally, vertical expansion is a viable solution, involving the construction of more apartments and condos or repurposing commercial properties into housing units. Addressing the housing shortage crisis should also involve action at the state level.
How would you address public safety concerns?
I believe our community and police can work out how policing works best for us. By investing in community-based initiatives, mental health services, conflict resolution programs, and other proactive measures, we can create a collaborative approach that works alongside our existing police force. It's about ensuring the well-being and security of residents and police officers alike. St. Paul has been a leader in areas like pretrial policing.
How would you fix our pothole problems?
This year we have had unfixed potholes, even in August. This is unacceptable. We can plan ahead and use new technologies, so our roads are plowed efficiently and our potholes are filled quickly. Our first priority is core city services like plowing and potholes.
What is your reaction to the ballot proposal of a 1% sales tax increase to provide more funding for streets and parks?
We do need to fund basic services. However, since we already have the highest sales tax, I believe we are putting our city at risk for even more shopping being done outside this city. It would have been wiser to have been more cautious in spending. This decision is on the ballot and will be decided by the voters. As a new city council person, I will make that decision work.
What is your reaction to the ballot proposal on the additional property tax increase dedicated to covering the costs of child care for low-income families?
This year voters faced a 14% property tax increase this year, after many increases. I believe in being cautious with spending. St Paul property tax increases should be much closer to inflation levels. I am a strong supporter of education and good affordable child care. That can be funded through the state with its surpluses better than our city property taxes.
St. Paul voters approved rent control in 2021, and the St. Paul City Council and city staff heavily amended the policy in 2022. Would you further amend rent control, end it, or maintain the policy as it currently stands?
We need to revisit this issue in every aspect. It needs to be fair for both sides and I will be personally involved. Tenants need to be protected from predatory practices. Landlord investments should be economically fair.
How will you support our Heritage and Cultural Preservation plan?
Our historic St Paul buildings are a record of ourselves and our communities. Preserving important historic resources creates a visible connection with our community's history and culture. It promotes our community unity while preserving our diversity. Noting historic places and the events that happened there connects us to our history. This is especially important for the historical moments that are otherwise not recognized. Preservation also helps to promote sustainability by reusing existing structures, reducing waste, and preserving natural resources. It will provide economic benefits, by creating jobs, increasing property values in historic districts and creating pride in our community. It promotes St Paul as a target destination for tourism. We have to preserve the best of our history and culture.
How do you plan to have St Paul deal with climate change and rising energy costs?
If we plan ahead, we can better deal with both climate change and rising energy costs. Every city plan should address these concerns. Every year, we replace equipment and vehicles. Those replacements can be energy efficient. We should plan ahead to have half of our vehicles on electrical power from a city-owned solar-power generation. We can work with the state to help us build the solar-power generation capability.
On an everyday basis, we could do more to adapt. For example, we could go from one to two police officers in one car, since we want two officers to handle most police responses. Knowing the vulnerability of newly planted trees, we could have neighbors pledge to water the new trees before planting. Working together, we could do more.