I initially ran for Saint Paul City Council because I believe change is possible when our communities have a seat at the table. This is the same belief that I hold today and that has motivated so many candidates to run this year.
This year, we as a city have an incredible opportunity to elect an experienced, community-minded leader who will implement a bold vision for Saint Paul. We are united by the political vision of supporting all people in the city and their diverse working families from all parts of the city. These leaders are committed to a bold, shared vision for our city: tackling the climate crisis by modernizing our streets; maintaining new housing options and tenant protections for people at risk of displacement; Investing in our local businesses and workers’ rights for a fair economy; and a vision for community security that meets people’s needs for greater stability.
Yet conservative special interest groups are aggressively spending nearly a quarter of a million dollars to convince you that city leaders can’t focus on both strong basic services and addressing historic inequities. You are dangerously wrong.
Time and time again, Saint Paul voters have made it clear that they expect their elected leaders to address today’s ongoing economic and racial injustices – from electing a bold and representative state legislative delegation to supporting rent stabilization, the organized garbage collection and the vision of our mayor and outgoing council. Essential city services are the vehicle we have used and will continue to use to realize a bold vision for Saint Paul.
Saint Paul voters expect their council candidates to have a plan for local climate action. With about half of our urban emissions coming from buildings, a third from transportation, and a smaller portion from waste systems, voters should pay attention to candidates who support climate action and are fully committed to infrastructure like the Summit Avenue Regional Trail and transit-oriented development insert.
Saint Paul voters expect their council candidates to have a plan to ensure that everyone in Saint Paul, whether renter or homeowner, has a safe and stable home. Housing supply alone does not solve the challenges faced by renters, who often operate in a discriminatory, hostile and exploitative rental market. Voters should look for candidates who not only support development at all income levels, but are also committed to the renter protections our residents need – including rent stabilization, which the future council must work to maintain, strengthen and improve, such as we would do it with any other policy.
Saint Paul voters expect and deserve a city where you feel safe no matter what block you live on. The failed and costly status quo of over-policing our communities will never address the true causes of instability. Voters should support leaders committed to continuing Saint Paul’s community-driven public safety approach that has successfully reduced crime rates, broken the cycle of violence and made us all safer. Essential city services are at the core of this vision: our city’s frontline emergency responders, public works workers, parks and library workers all contribute to making our city safer and deserve continued support.
Saint Paul voters also expect their politicians to support the local businesses and workers that make our city a unique and prosperous place. This means that we have to take strict occupational health and safety measures, such as: Such as earned sick and safety time, community initiatives that help local businesses permanently own and operate their spaces, and more. Voters should listen to the local coalition of progressive unions and residents supporting a slate of leaders who have our common interest at heart – not the financial interests of corporate real estate donors who pour hundreds of thousands of dollars into our city elections.
Finally, the need to address historical injustices while providing core services is laid bare in a place no more acutely felt than the state of our city streets. Decades of disinvestment combined with a worsening climate crisis have devastated our roads and massive intervention is needed.
In addition to supporting community-minded candidates, voters this year can unlock nearly an additional billion dollars over two decades through a local sales tax that funds a generational investment in our most important streets, parks and recreation centers – with an additional investment from everyone who uses our resources , not just the taxpayers of Saint Paul. The alternative is grim: continuing a broken cycle of underinvestment that property taxes and legislative help alone cannot overcome. We can and must address inequities this Election Day by investing in core city services.
Saint Paul voters have a tremendous opportunity this Election Day to elect candidates and pass a measure that will help our city move forward – not fall behind.
Mitra Jalali is a member of the St. Paul City Council. She was first elected in a special election in 2018 and was elected to a full four-year term in 2019. She is running for re-election this year.