Meet the candidates: St. Paul City Council, Ward 3

By Matea Wasend

St. Paul’s Ward 3 City Council 12-year Representative Pat Harris is not running for re-election this year, leaving his seat open to newcomers. Ward 3, which includes Macalester-Groveland and Highland Park neighborhoods, has four candidates in contention for Harris’ former spot: Eve Stein, Tylor J. Slinger, Chris Tolbert and John Mannillo. The Mac Weekly got in touch with Eve Stein, Tylor J. Slinger and Chris Tolbert and compiled quotes from John Mannillo’s interviews with the Twin Cities Daily Planet and the Pioneer Press in anticipation of the Nov. 8 election. The Mac Weekly: What are the key issues facing St. Paul that you hope to address if elected? How do you plan to address those issues? Eve Stein: Money: how to get it; how to spend it. Local Government Aid (a.k.a. the Minnesota Miracle) reimbursed the city of St. Paul for the goods and amenities it provides to the region. Over the past 8 years, the state has gradually stripped tens of millions of dollars in income to the city. The city has had to make up the difference by raising property taxes and slashing services. This is not a sustainable policy. To address this we must work with our state representatives to try to retrieve some of the funding. Tylor J. Slinger: The loss of Local Government Aid and increase of property taxes is a major issue we face as a city. My solutions to fixing this are pretty straightforward and just require a councilperson with some backbone. We need to stop giving millions away to “generate” business/jobs, it doesn’t work. Many businesses are going to come to town with promises of growth and they’re going to demand huge economic handouts in the form of subsidies, preferential regulatory changes or tax abatements. These so called growth strategies are unsustainable and leave the poorest of us worse off. The other major issue facing our area is the re-development of the Ford plant property. I advocate implementing a new land-use model for the city that focuses on decentralizing authority to our local communities. Specifically, we should use community-driven, property owner-friendly, approach that focuses on mitigating the impacts of development rather than prescribing what should go where and when. John Mannillo: (in the Pioneer Press) The Ford plant redevelopment is a historic opportunity for our neighborhood to come together, grow new jobs and enhance our community. I’ll use my redevelopment experience to encourage a partnership between the city and Ford that shares costs and resources and allows the community to help guide the redevelopment process. Chris Tolbert: 1) Development. Both the potential redevelopment of the Ford Plant site in Ward 3, and also the development of other city projects like the St. Paul Regional Ballpark. 2) Building a workforce that attracts job growth through educational support and working to align education and training with what is needed in the future job market. 3) Working to fund essential city services that keep St. Paul a city that people want to live in, businesses want to do business in, and people want to visit. TMW: What’s that “special something” you’ll bring to the city council? Eve Stein: Of all the Ward 3 candidates, I am the only woman; the only Independent; the only parent; I have a solid financial background; my education is in urban planning, public administration, and labor relations; I have 25 years of service to this community. All of these things give me specialized skills and knowledge to help me succeed on the council and in representing my community. Tylor J. Slinger: Even though I’m the youngest of the candidates at 24, I have a background in the real working world. My background in the financial services industry and working hard manual labor jobs gives me a bottom-up perspective that is people and community focused. My ideas for changing the city have long term affects that would put us center-stage in the national economy and make us competitive in the global market. Moreover, I’m not beholden to any special interests, but to the individuals that live here. I’m the only candidate that’s agreed to cut my pay and set term limits. John Mannillo: (in the Daily Planet) I have more than 30 years of real-world business experience and community involvement in a number of roles. As a local business owner, I’ve balanced budgets and met payroll to provide for my employees in challenging economic times. I think rubber-meets-the-road experience guided by real concern for our community is exactly what the council needs right now. I’m committed to being a strong independent voice for my neighbors in Ward 3. While I firmly believe that a candidate and councilmember should speak with everyone and hear concerns and new ideas, I have either turned down endorsements or chosen not to seek endorsements from a number of groups. I believe that the best way to serve everyone is to not be beholden to anyone. Chris Tolbert: I believe the mix of my skills, values and experience make me the right choice to be our advocate at City Hall. I would be the only attorney on the Council and my legal experience representing taxpayers would be an asset as our community works to redevelop the Ford Plant site. My energy and inclusive leadership also sets me apart. Since this campaign began I have knocked on thousands of doors in Ward 3–and it’s my pledge to bring that level of constituent service to your door as a Councilmember. Lastly, my ability to bring people together and build consensus. I’m proud of the broad collation of support I’ve been able to build from the DFL, labor, police, fire and the chamber of commerce. TMW: How do this election and these issues affect students at St. Paul colleges like Macalester? Eve Stein: The city council members we elect are the people who make the laws/rules regarding student rental housing in our neighborhoods. They make the laws and affect policies that regulate how we live in this community: traffic and parking laws, recreation center hours, library services, regulation of neighborhood small businesses, mass transit, user fees, etc. All of these things affect local college students. Tylor J. Slinger: There’s been discussion about extending and cementing the rental-housing moratorium on student housing. This ordinance is clearly geared against restricting landlords who wish to serve the student populace. Such ordinances are prejudicial and single out poor students, rather than work with the individual stakeholders to find a collaborative solution. The cost of tuition has steadily increased over the last decade and restricting housing would only add to loans and debt that each student takes on after college. The city needs to bring all parties to the table and work out a realistic and fair solution that does single out an individual class of people. TMW: Any words of wisdom about the state of American politics? Eve Stein: My degrees are in political science. I’ve always studied, participated in, and loved our political system. I now am not associated with any party, partially because I have become so disgusted with partisan behavior that treats members of other parties like enemies. So my appeal is this: vote for politicians who pledge to work cooperatively with their colleagues at all levels of government. Tylor J. Slinger: We should all learn to be more skeptical of elected officials, as a rule. Things are generally getting better, regardless of the stories that politicians/media choose to tell us. It’s the best interest of career politician and the media to tell you and me that the world is decaying, because it gives them more to do or write about (a.k.a. job security). As young budding citizens it’s our job to question and push against the assumptions that have been laid out for us; especially in the case of elected officials, who make a living in dictating to others the manner in which they should live. Chris Tolbert: I find it disappointing that on the national scene politics has become so partisan, with people digging in their heals to “win” political points, while hurting the country as a whole. I hope that in the coming years
that we can change this tone and work to do what’s best for the people and this country. I have, however, found running for city council to be a breath of fresh air compared to the tone in national politics. We have a very engaged and positive city, and it gives me hope that we can restore this tone on a larger scale. I’ve found that college students, as cliché as it may sound, truly can make a difference. The energy and passion that young people bring to politics is the best way for us to counter the negativity that is often felt in politics. My advice would be to get involved in politics, and make it your own. The politics of hope, energy and the future will ultimately prevail over the politics of “no” and negativity.