"Making decisions WITH people, not FOR people."
I hear similar messages when talking to people throughout the city, with the common theme being that "no one is listening." The city is gentrifying. Rents and mortgages are becoming unaffordable due to rising taxes. City services are declining despite double digit tax increases. Small businesses are closing. And again - no one is listening. I am the leader that will represent us ALL, hold the city accountable, and fight for our communities.
The population of Saint Paul is projected to grow by almost 30,000 people, and nearly 13,000 households over the next 20 years. If current inequalities continue unchallenged, it will lead to increases in unemployment and poverty, while decreasing homeownership – a recipe that is unfavorable for all residents and for the future of our community and city. My goal is to increase housing options available to all people, regardless of whether they desire renting or homeownership. These efforts will be directly nested within the proposed St. Paul 2040 plan to ensure that they meet the needs of growth, while maintaining proper density and preserving neighborhood character. I will not allow developers to continue to build completely unaffordable market-rate apartments that contain little to no affordable units.
I am committed to developing policies to support the growth in low- and moderate-income households to mitigate racial and ethnic disparities that currently exist and to eliminate housing discrimination. I will work to ensure future density and zoning plans around major transit hubs include mandates to make them affordable. This will serve to proactively guarantee that our residents aren’t forced to move because they can no longer afford to live in the area. I plan on expanding incentives for first-time homebuyers to provide everyone an equal opportunity to own a home in our city if they desire to do so. Furthermore, I will preserve and seek to expand affordable housing options across the city in order to achieve mixed-income neighborhoods and support policies that eliminate non-just-cause evictions.
Lastly, rising property taxes are creating a large burden on homeowners and renters - many of whom are already on a fixed income. While taxes are necessary to pay for public services, it is unacceptable we continue to face double-digit tax increases, yet city services continue to decline. This burden further compounds the issues surrounding housing affordability within our city and continues to displace residents across our communities because living in the area is no longer affordable.
Public Services & Amenities
Readily available and accessible public transportation options are an essential service that is necessary for connecting our residents to a multitude of opportunities and resources. Accessibility to transit, bicycle networks, and pedestrian amenities improves quality of life; reduces automobile dependency; improves walkability; increases housing options; and expands access to employment.
Transportation hubs, however, disproportionally serve higher income neighborhoods compared to low- and middle-income neighborhoods. I plan to undertake transportation initiatives that connect all communities to opportunity as well as investments in accessibility to improve transportation options for people with disabilities. I will also work to improve bicycle and pedestrian facilities by prioritizing cost-effective infrastructure developments that improve options for users.
In order to advance prosperity across the city, amenities must be evenly distributed among our neighborhoods. In doing so, it improves the livability of our city and will attract businesses to invest in our communities - all of which serves to build community wealth. As our city continues to grow, I will ensure new developments are directed at low- and middle-class neighborhoods in order to invest in the viability of our future across the city.
We must be proactive in addressing the reduction of our environmental footprint and being postured to minimize the impact of increasing severe weather incidents. The frequency and severity of storms are on the rise as a result of climate change and can cause millions of dollars in property damage. This, in turn, raises insurance premiums and repair costs which has devastating effects on community prosperity.
Expanding tree coverage is one of the easiest ways to provide a multitude of benefits to the environment and our communities. Having more canopy coverage leads to increases in public health, higher property values, reduction of crime rates, combats climate change, and lessens stormwater damage and runoff. It also reduces pollutants and heat within urban areas, leading to decreases in energy consumption thereby lowering utility costs for residents.
As our city continues to grow and expand, I will ensure that new developments minimize environmental impacts, incorporate adequate green spaces, are resource efficient, and support eco-friendly construction whenever possible. I plan to pursue increasing incentives for property and business owners that support energy-efficient modifications to be made to existing structures to help reduce energy consumption across the city.
Education & Employment
In 2017, the residential population of St. Paul became a majority of people of color. Right now significant disparities exist in employment, income, and education among people of color within our city.
Our children deserve to be supported with the best tools and opportunities to thrive. As our city continues diversifying, our schools must be postured to keep pace with changing demographics. Unfortunately, schools in St. Paul are struggling to hire a diverse teaching base, resulting in students of color not being educated by people who look like them. This has devastating effects on student performance, attitudes, and likelihood of success in school. I will push to implement training and residency programs within our public schools that are aimed at increasing the number of teachers of color in our schools.
In order for our city and the residents within it to thrive and prosper, access to opportunity must be equal. A skilled and educated workforce is essential to increasing vitality and reducing poverty for our residents. I am committed to putting people first by investing in job training, recreational programs, and cultural and art-based initiatives within the city to help our residents and their families prosper. I will work with community leaders and organizers to develop a targeted and detailed approach that is inclusive and beneficial for traditionally underrepresented populations.
Furthermore, I believe in worker's rights to have adequate labor representation. I support the right to organize, bargaining for wages and improved working conditions, and that all employees should have a voice and protections in the workplace.
In order to strengthen our neighborhoods, we must invest in and support our rich and diverse cultures and heritage, while maintaining affordability. Designating mixed-use areas serves as a means to balance access to jobs and housing, along with providing easier connections to public services (such as healthcare) that are supportive of daily needs. I will ensure that the priority of effort for ongoing and future initiatives are equitably distributed to maximize the benefits for the communities that need it the most. I am dedicated to investing in our neighborhood's parks, playgrounds, recreation facilities, and libraries to enhance our residents’ ties to their communities.
By investing and reinvesting in our neighborhoods, we can effectively create micro-economies that are supportive of growth, improve livability, celebrate cultures, and reduce disparities. I will work to preserve existing housing through rehabilitation efforts as a means to keep housing affordable to all residents. Furthermore, I will strive to implement culturally-appropriate education campaigns that inform property owners of their options for maintenance and rehabilitation support if they are facing financial hardship.
Finally, within St. Paul we have an opportunity to forge partnerships with the area colleges and universities to improve community connections and workforce development. I would like to pursue initiatives that are supportive of local business creation to foster building community wealth and the retention of young working professionals.
Supporting Small Businesses
Our economy in St. Paul is vital to the health and vibrancy of our communities. Far too many small businesses, however, are being forced to close up shop due to rising costs and overly-complicated city processes.
The complexity of the issues that we face as a city requires a coordinated approach to clearly identify what the best way ahead is. This MUST include representation from business owners when prior to making decisions to ensure that all stakeholders are included in the process. It is far more difficult to open, own, and operate a small business here in St. Paul then it is in our sister city of Minneapolis. This is not supportive of creating and building community wealth within our neighborhoods. I will actively work to elevate the voices of small business owners and those seeking to start up a new business in our city and ensure they are supported throughout their venture.