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In the West St. Paul municipal election this year the mayor and three City Council members are on the ballot. 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 general election on November 8. See our 2022 voter’s guide for more.
Previously we asked about creating positive change, top priorities, the city manager, the budget, and public safety. This time we’re asking about housing.
We often hear from residents speaking out against apartments, yet renters make up more than half the city. How will you better engage renters and bring the entire community together? Do you support more housing and if so what types of housing do you support?
Here are the candidates’ responses:
Candidates for Mayor
This is an uncontested race.
We make it easy for all to participate in our governance. We have many outreaches and have done more means of communication to reach everyone. We are doing a fantastic job.
I support more market rate housing. Single family and multi-family.
Candidates for City Council Ward 1
The time certainly is right to propose that the city form a committee of renters, landlords and property managers. The committee would be tasked with offering frequent reports to the council and city staff that contain current collective issues, concerns, and recommendations. I also support maintaining current rental housing standards and rental density ordinances. We must also proactively hold property-owners accountable for dilapidated structures and property.
All housing looks good when it is built. For any future housing, I would push to ensure that all developments have solid commitments for robust operation and maintenance budgets that are amortized over a solid number of years so buildings will stay looking good. Well-maintained buildings are naturally less likely to cause some tenant/management issues.
Moving forward, I think our priority should be to partner with developers offering one-level condo or townhome style owner-occupied housing so seniors, many of whom have lived in the city their entire adult lives, have more options of aging in place.
Kimetha “KaeJae” Johnson
I will continue to do the work I’ve been doing in the community by holding regular listening sessions, addressing barriers by connecting them to needed resources, holding community events, and building partnerships.
I will support more housing if it’s affordable and addresses the needs of families of color.
Candidates for City Council Ward 2
This is an uncontested race.
John Justen did not respond to our questionnaire.
Candidates for City Council Ward 3
The loudest voices against apartments are homeowners, so we have to work to change that mindset in order for renters to feel comfortable to engage and be a part of the community as a whole. During Nite to Unite, we stopped by a big apartment complex on Charlton and the folks I talked to went on and on about how much they love their building and the community they’ve built within it. Renters are engaged in their communities—they shop here, they send their kids to school here, they play in the parks, they drive on the roads, and they walk on the sidewalks. As a city council, we can do a better job by understanding what needs we could be missing by talking to renters any chance we get.
Housing is still a need in West St. Paul, just like it is everywhere else. I would support future housing projects that make sense for our community by filling a need we have, while also making sure we have the appropriate infrastructure, like roads and sewers, in place to handle those projects.
Jake Nelson has dropped out of the race and did not participate in our questionnaire, but will still appear on the ballot.
Vote on November 8
The general election is on Tuesday, November 8. Learn more about 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 2022 voter’s guide for more on the candidates and other races.
Thank you to the candidates for taking the time to respond to our questions.
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