On October 1, 2020, the Women of West Saint Paul (WOW), Residents of Color Collective (ROCC) and the WSO Greenway Coalition sponsored the West St. Paul City Council Candidate Forum for Ward 1. Click the button below to view the hour long video on YouTube.
Between 2020-2023, 998 rental units and 75+ townhomes will be built. West St. Paul's Comprehensive Plan has estimated our population in 2040 will be 23,100 residents. We will likely reach this population level by the end of 2023. Given our accelerated growth, there is a lot of work to do to ensure that our city is ready to welcome all of our new neighbors. This includes updating our strategic priorities and financial plans, so our services and amenities (including public safety, infrastructure and parks), our schools, and our local businesses are ready.
I am fiscally responsible and I have a ton of experience in budgets. My business experience includes delivering large profitable gains at little or no cost. I can share that experience as your councilmember. I support strong fiscal management that delivers quality services and amenities, while retiring debt and implementing lower property tax rates.
I support fully funding our police and fire departments. We should continue to build strong relationships with our community, our police, and other local services so ALL of our neighbors know where to go when they need help.
One way is to create a Police Chief Advisory Roundtable with community, organization and business participation. We should also schedule community listening sessions with local law enforcement agencies, first responders, and organizations, such as Dakota County mental health resources, to build awareness and connections.
We need to add business and community members as advisors to the Economic Development Authority. In addition, we should have broader community listening sessions 2-3x/year on what types of businesses and development that residents want to see. We can use this feedback to build a business development portfolio that supports our 2040 Comprehensive Plan.
WSP EDA should also broaden relationships with area chambers of commerce, professional organizations, and resources (such as banks and labor groups), who might help bring new development partners and projects to the city.
From 2020-2022, we will have added 998 new apartment and senior living housing units. Over 50% of our residents are renters. We need to create a Rental Community & Housing Plan (similar to the Housing Plan we have in place) that includes community needs, updated rental codes, describes tenant protections, and provides owners with resources to help them fund improvements. We need to include renters in our committees, including adding residents to our Public Safety Committee and Economic Development Authority.
We need to re-prioritize diversity, inclusion and equity initiatives in our City. We can start by participating in the League of MN Cities GARE (Government Alliance on Race and Equity) program. WSP can then improve diverse and equitable hiring and training practices, provide diversity guidance for business and community partners, and build an inclusive culture that welcomes all of our residents.
Our Environmental Committee and Parks & Rec Committee have done great work towards future support for green spaces in our city! I am excited to see some of these efforts being discussed at Planning Commission and future City Council meetings re: adding code requirements for development projects. These additions may include requiring non-neonicotinoid plantings, solar energy, green roofs and safe environmental water treatment as part of development standards.
Accessibility means building trails, sidewalks, and access points so all of our neighbors and visitors can safely move about the city. These access points should accommodate: walking, biking, wheelchairs, and using mass transit (such as buses). We need to keep accessibility a priority in our Strategic Initiatives and continue supporting these initiatives with votes and funding allocations.
I applaud the City for adding sidewalk development to our road improvement budget vs. assessing individual property owners.
Dakota County continues to provide funding for additional trails in WSP. They also have a 10 year Plan for additional improvements to Thompson County Park!
I've heard from many neighbors that they would like a skateboard park or areas that kids can safely roller skate or use their skateboards. I have shared these requests with Staff and some councilmembers. I think there will be development of more skating options in our city!