This is part of a series on the 2019 St. Paul Elections
Moving eastward now to Ward 7, home of a strange wild space that used to be a strange neighborhood, a brewery that used to be called Flat Earth in a building that used to be Hamm’s, and a very cool regional park (technically the mountain bike trails are in St. Paul but the dog park is in Maplewood).
Where is Ward 7?
Ward 7 is in St. Paul’s southeast corner, basically everything east of downtown and the Mississippi and south of a stair-step border including 7th st and Minnehaha, Bush, and Stillwater avenues. Most of Ward 7 is either in Dayton’s Bluff or the combined Eastview-Conway-Battle Creek-Highwood Hills neighborhood. It’s the biggest ward by land area, but a good chunk of that area is taken up by Pig’s Eye Lake and Battle Creek Park.
Jane Prince - the incumbent councilmember, elected in 2015
Kartumu King - a community organizer and healthcare professional
David Thom - “just a 43 year resident of St. Paul and a 42 year home owner in Dayton’s Bluff”
When reviewing the major votes in the St. Paul City Council over the past few years, a pattern emerges with two types of bills: the bills that passed unanimously, and the bills that Jane Prince voted against. Jane is the voice of a more conservative crowd in St. Paul that does not want more housing density, more bike infrastructure, or more city services, especially if any of the above come at the cost of removing parking spaces or raising property taxes. She voted against the Ford Site, she voted against coordinated trash pickup, and she’ll vote against any bike lane that removes a single car parking space.
Prince’s reasoning for voting against these initiatives usually involves a call for further process: the city should gather more feedback, hold more public hearings, do a traffic study, etc. It’s easy to call this a delay tactic, and I think it is at least partially that, but I think it also shows a constant grasping for a false compromise between two sides of an issue. For example, Prince just co-authored a trash editorial using a very flowery John Stuart Mill quote to accuse the council and mayor of not “meeting with the trash petitioners and trying to seek contract changes together”, exclaiming “These are not the enemies of City Hall!”. The implication seems to be that if we all just got together, calmed down the rhetoric, really talked and listened to one another, that some sort of grand consensus would emerge on this contentious issue. Call me a cynic, but I think this approach is painfully naive. In politics, there will be issues where not everyone can get what they want, and a sizable minority of St. Paulites sincerely do not want coordinated trash pickup. If we delay every issue until the vocal opposition goes away, we will never accomplish anything in city government because we will be waiting forever.
So that’s why I’m not a Jane Prince fan, but she definitely has supporters in her ward, because she sailed to the DFL endorsement on the first ballot this year.
Kartumu King is a Liberian immigrant who graduated from St. Paul schools and works in healthcare. She wants to advocate for all members of her diverse ward and use her experience as a single mother to add a new perspective to the city council.
But her issues page is just a list of bullet points and the events page is empty in October, though she did attend a candidate forum. I am also at least a little concerned that she has a recent drunk driving conviction.
Mary Anne Quiroz
Mary Anne Quiroz was born in the Philipines but grew up on the east side of St. Paul. Her issues page has a lot of initiatives to like: bike and pedestrian safety improvements, more resources for public transit, and she wants to expand inclusionary zoning and give more protections to folks in Section 8 housing.
But her events page hasn’t been updated since March, I can’t find a questionnaire or candidate forum that she’s participated in the past two months, and she’s had barely any social media activity in October.
David Thom doesn’t have a campaign website and just wrote “Facebook David Thom Ward 7” instead of a URL in his campaign paperwork. Visting the facebook page in question has a very cute dog but gives you very little information about the candidate. There are a few posts about alley plowing (he’s against it) and trash, and it looks like the only candidate forum he attended was hosted by the St. Paul Republican City Committte. The only posts he’s made since mid-September were a link to online voter registration and a link to a “here’s how Ranked Choice Voting works” video.
For crying out loud.
I think Jane Prince is probably going to win another term.
What can I say though, I’m an incurable optimist. Get out there and vote for Mary Anne Quiroz.