The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

What’s on the ballot this Tuesday?

What’s on the ballot this Tuesday?

Tuesday’s elections have the potential to create a stir-up. A wide range of candidates are running for office, so lots can change this Tuesday. 

“With four current council members stepping down at the end of the year and 30 candidates vying for seven seats, St. Paul’s legislative body is poised for its biggest shakeup since the 1990s,” the Star Tribune reported in September

Students registered to vote at their Macalester address will choose one of four City Council candidates and four of seven School Board members at large and will weigh in on a ballot measure. The city council race will have ranked-choice voting. 

 

City Council candidates

The City Council candidates for Ward 3, where Macalester is located, are Saura Jost, Isaac Russell, Troy Barskdale ’23 and Patty Hartmann.

Saura Jost  is a 35-year-old civil engineer who has lived in Ward 3 for almost her whole life. She has a slate of endorsements, including the St. Paul Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, St. Paul mayor Melvin Carter and outgoing St. Paul City Council member Chris Tolbert. 

Her background lends itself to an interest in affordable housing, which is one of the major issues of her campaign. Jost plans to build a higher percentage of affordable housing, support mixed-family residential construction and renters’ tenant protections and increase access to homeownership for first-time buyers. 

“As a civil engineer, I have worked on building up Minnesota my entire adult life,” Jost writes on her website. “That same philosophy drives me in engineering a vision of St. Paul that raises us all up, includes everyone, and lasts us for the long haul.” 

Jost prioritizes a host of other issues, such as reliable and clean transportation, sustainable infrastructure, public safety for every St. Paul resident, early childhood education and childcare, environmental protections and a diverse and thriving economy and community engagement. 

40-year-old Isaac Russell was also born and raised in and around St. Paul. Growing up, he experienced periods of homelessness and food insecurity and lived in shelters with his mom and siblings. Community resources like housing, public safety and libraries played a crucial role in helping him get to where he is today. Russell serves as Director of Public Policy at the Center for Economic Inclusion, an anti-poverty and pro-economic growth think tank in downtown St. Paul.  

“I am running for city council because I believe my story represents what St. Paul is about,” Russell writes on his website. 

Public safety’s role in Russell’s journey leads him to mark it as his top priority now. In his view, improving public safety will help St. Paul residents feel safer at schools, in the park, shopping at local businesses and parking their cars. To reach this point, Russell plans to invest in programs to reduce gun violence, deploy mental health workers and social workers when appropriate and help build community between officers and the people they serve.

Russell also supports an increase in the strength and responsiveness of city services, construction of affordable housing, support for businesses and development and the presence of community initiatives like youth internships and scholarships. He is campaigning for a decrease in climate change-related issues and other environmental hazards. 

Troy Barksdale ’23, who will graduate from Macalester next month, is also on the ballot. Important aspects of Barksdale’s background include his love for oration and his decision to run as an independent. 

Barksdale’s big focus is eliminating or significantly changing St. Paul’s current rent stabilization policies. Barksdale plans to replace rent stabilization with incentives for landlords to improve and maintain their properties with money from the city, not from renters. 

Barksdale is also enthused about altering and strengthening public safety, filling vacant buildings, reducing environmental hazards and diversifying education. 

Patty Hartmann, who has been an attorney for 40 years, is the final candidate on the ballot. Her attorney background has taught her about conflict resolution, specifically, the necessity of investigation and analysis before implementing solutions.

As such, Hartmann is committed to listening to what residents are saying and prioritizing their basic needs over “unaffordable ‘big dreams’ and special interest initiatives,” as she phrases it on her website. For example, she opposes the implementation of the Summit Avenue bike trail, which she says highlights small interests being elevated over residents’ overwhelming opposition.

Her other policy interests include safe neighborhoods, strengthened municipal infrastructure, sustainable development, prosperity for all St. Paul residents and government transparency. 

Chris Tolbert, the incumbent, is not running. 

 

Ballot measure

This year’s ballot measure is a proposed one percentage point increase in the citywide sales tax. The revenue will be used to improve streets, bridges and parks. 

Jost and Russell plan to vote yes, while Barksdale and Hartmann plan to vote no. 

Supporters of the ballot measure point to the growing need for maintenance of St. Paul’s roads. Russell says this need represents the city’s failure to prioritize its basic infrastructure. 

Those who oppose the ballot measure often cite the negative financial impact it will have on residents and retailers. If passed, St. Paul’s sales tax rate will be 9.875%, the highest in Minnesota. 

The Mac Weekly was unable to cover the School Board race.

Election Day is this Tuesday, November 7. Students who are registered at their on-campus address will vote at Macalester Plymouth United Church at 1658 Lincoln Ave, which is open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day. Off-campus students can use https://pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us/to find their polling location. Same-day registration is offered with a valid ID. Macalester student IDs qualify as valid identification. 

 

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