Be heard

By Will Howell

There’s a mayoral race going on in St. Paul right now. Did you know? Do you care? Here are a few reasons why you should seriously consider voting in the mayoral race on Nov. 8. Maybe you live (or want to live) off-campus. Who do you think implements policies that control housing prices? Is it the governor? Your state senator or representative? Nope, it’s the mayor and the city council. Affordable housing has been a huge issue in this mayor’s race in particular.

Do you like to bike or jog down by the river? Those paths aren’t in great condition, and they don’t link up with the Greenway trails over on the Minneapolis side of the river. Right now the Greenway, a project concerned with preserving the area along the Mississippi for recreational use, does not extend into St. Paul. A mayor could change that.

Many college students rely on public transportation to get around. In the last two years, Metro Transit has suffered huge cuts from the state and federal governments which have forced them to cut back on the areas served and frequency of service.

Simultaneously, the state is considering building a light rail line along University Avenue. The St. Paul legislative delegation has been unsuccessful at making this a priority for the state, and it doesn’t look like that situation is going to change in the near future. The mayors of Minneapolis and St. Paul have the power and leverage to make a difference on these issues at the state level where legislators have been unsuccessful, and they also have the power to raise the money through local fees and taxation.

Where do you go when you want to have fun on the weekend? Do you go to downtown St. Paul? No, there’s nothing to do there. A mayor concerned with developing galleries, concert venues, restaurants and small businesses could change that.

There is no sustainability plan for St. Paul, no steps to reduce the city’s impact on the environment. At a time when our environment is rapidly deteriorating, don’t you think it’s important to vote for a mayor who will create such a plan? Who would buy hybrid cars for the city, or implement green building standards? A mayor who would hire a sustainability coordinator to keep St. Paul focused on developing new means of sustainability?

Many developers are trying to change the nature of Grand Avenue by moving in new business, particularly big box stores like Best Buy or Wal-Mart. The mayor and the city council will be reviewing these plans in a year. A mayor could stop this or let it move forward.

What about the fire department? The police? The paramedics? They’re all pretty important to us, right? They are local entities under the control of the mayor’s office.

Ultimately, St. Paul is a city of many colleges; we represent a significant demographic with needs different from other St. Paul residents. A lot of mayoral decisions affect college students, and we deserve a mayor who is willing to listen to college students.

By voting, we claim our place at the table, our right to be part of the decision-making process in St. Paul. But if we don’t vote, if we don’t register our feelings about who should be mayor of St. Paul, we don’t really have any basis to claim that right.

Consider all these and vote on Nov. 8 for the next mayor of St. Paul.

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