Women Win in West St. Paul: First Female Majority on City Council

Thanks to Amore Coffee for their support.

For the first time in 132 years, West St. Paul has a female majority on City Council. With November’s election victories, three women were sworn in tonight—Julie Eastman for Ward 1, Robyn Gulley for Ward 2, and Lisa Eng-Sarne for Ward 3. They join Ward 3’s Wendy Berry to make up four out of the six council members.

Mayor Dave Napier was also sworn in for his second term as mayor during tonight’s special organizational meeting. Other business included a number of annual appointments and designations. The Council did not adopt the code of ethics because the Charter Commission is meeting next week to consider a change related to the code of ethics (City Council has 90 days to adopt a code of ethics).

Majority Milestone

Before tonight, only seven women had ever served on West St. Paul’s City Council—compared to 158 men. Eastman and Gulley will increase that total to nine (Eng-Sarne is an incumbent who won re-election). It also marks the first time more than two women have served on City Council at one time.

This is the latest in a string of female firsts in recent years:

  • 2009: Darlene Lewis becomes the first woman to serve more than one term on City Council.
  • 2017: Jenny Halverson becomes the first woman to serve as mayor.
  • 2019: The first time two women serve on City Council at the same time (Wendy Berry and Lisa Eng-Sarne).
  • 2019: Lisa Eng-Sarne becomes the first woman ever appointed to City Council.
  • 2020: Women run in every race on the municipal ballot for the first time ever (Kimetha “KaeJae” Johnson, also the first Black candidate, is the one woman who didn’t win—she had an uphill battle against longtime resident and popular incumbent Mayor Dave Napier).

The recent rise of female voices in West St. Paul can be traced in part to the 2018 sexism controversy that sparked the foundation of the Women of West St. Paul organization.

Progress for women in West St. Paul started back in 1967 when Devona Weatherhead became the first woman to serve on City Council.

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