Thanks to Southview Garden Center for their support.
In West St. Paul municipal election this year there is a race in each ward for City Council and a mayor’s race. We’ve asked the candidates a series of questions to see where they stand on the issues. We’ll share one question and the responses at a time leading up to the election. See our full details on where and how to vote in West St. Paul.
How will you support more trails and sidewalks in West St. Paul—including the River-to-River Greenway Trail?
We posed this question to all candidates (with one exception, noted below). Here are their responses:
Candidates for Mayor
Kimetha “KaeJae” Johnson
Given we are working with Dakota County to develop the project I will continue to work with them, in addition I will work with the community to advocate for resources that will keep the trails safe and clean.
We will continue to advance our master plan, while being fiscally responsible. Connecting our city through sidewalks, bike paths, and the Dakota County River-to-River Greenway Trail is one of the biggest steps we can take in building a strong community. I have and will continue to support those efforts.
Candidates for City Council Ward 1
By keeping accessibility improvements (walking, biking, wheelchairs, bus routes) a priority in our Strategic Plan and 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. I’m happy to see Dakota County provide funding for trails in WSP and their 10-year plan for improving Thompson County Park.
In my four years of being on the City Council, I voted in favor of every trail and sidewalk project. I advocated strongly to create a line item in the budget, currently at $500,000 per year, that ensures every year there is a specific dollar amount spent on sidewalks and trails. Additionally, I worked hard to change the sidewalk funding policy to remove the burden of funding sidewalks from 100% on the homeowner to a city wide responsibility. This change in policy will provide a more equitable and fair funding mechanism for sidewalk connections and gaps to be completed. I will continue to support that all trails and sidewalks be kept up and that every major road will eventually have a sidewalk or trail. As far as the River-to-River Greenway trail is concerned, the tunnel and the final connections are under construction and West St. Paul’s obligation to complete the trail will be completed by next year. I voted in favor of accepting County and Met Council funding for the construction of the River-to-River Greenway tunnel under Robert Street, which will be completed in conjunction with the new Hy-Vee development project and tie into redevelopment plans for Town Center One on the west side of Robert Street.
Candidates for City Council Ward 2
See my previous answer on priorities—it’s all there. See the response on Infrastructure and Budget—it’s all there.
Transit is a key livability factor in our city. Sidewalks are more than a convenience—they make our city walkable, which is important for every single one of us, and essential for kids and people with mobility challenges. Bike trails are important for transit, and are essential if we want to have a chance of meeting our climate goals.
Supporting our sidewalks and bike trails begins with prioritizing them—deciding that walkability and bikeability are not bonuses, but imperatives. As a City Councilperson, I will support treating our sidewalks as a city-wide accessibility issue.
We also need to think beyond sidewalks and bike trails to imagine ways that we can encourage people to choose walking and biking instead of driving. Thankfully, people in our community already have great ideas for how to do this. For example, I have heard from community members who have expressed that better lighting on major thoroughfares would help them feel safer walking and biking after dark. I have also heard from community members that having more protected bike lanes would make biking feel like a safer option. In addition to infrastructure changes, I hope to use our city social media to highlight the non-driving ways that people get around and encourage people to choose walking and biking for transit.
Candidates for City Council Ward 3
It has been great to see, over the past two years, that this topic has become one of the less controversial across the Council. When we have needed to take action to finalize pieces of the River-to-River Greenway Trail, it has been encouraging to see not only support, but enthusiasm for completion of the project. Last week, we were invited by the county to help create a video to promote the project and I showed up with my roller skates in hand—look for that video and a few other familiar faces in that project soon (so long as I don’t get cut from the video).
I have also been supportive of the longer-term planning for closing of sidewalk gaps and prioritizing the routes that make the most impact for kids walking to school or those around our parks. This is a priority and will continue to stay a priority in the coming years, and we will be as ambitious as possible in closing sidewalk and trail gaps, while also tracking with the city budget.
(no campaign site)
[Per a request from David Meisinger in 2018 threatening to report me to the police for harassment if I ever contact him again, I did not ask Meisinger this question and therefore have no response to share.]
Vote on November 3
Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. The West St. Paul city website has details on where and how to vote. You can also vote early with an absentee ballot, either by mail or by stopping at the Dakota County offices. See our full details on where and how to vote in West St. Paul.
Thank you to the candidates for taking the time to respond to my questions.
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