Diversity, Inclusion, Equity, and Belonging
Our community is filled with neighborhoods with people from a variety of backgrounds, with life paths, and different reasons to make West St. Paul their home. This is what makes our City a vibrant and inclusive place to live. We’ve recognized Black History Month, LGBTQIA Pride Month, Native American Heritage Month, and Asian American Pacific Islander Month, to name a few. We’ve also established a citizen-led Equity Team to that meets monthly with the City manager. Still, we must do more to engage people from a variety of experiences and backgrounds to grow and improve our community. I believe in proactive outreach to meet people where they are. My wish is to make everyone truly feel like they belong in West St. Paul. Moving forward, I’ll work to:
- Eliminate communication barriers by continuing to provide City information – like surveys and town hall meetings – in multiple languages.
- Increase accessibility by adding more sidewalks and enhancing our parks so so neighbors of all abilities can safely and confidently enjoy our City.
- Keep our City affordable. As our City continues to grow in diversity, West St. Paul has one of the largest aging populations in Dakota County. We’re seeing more young families choose West St. Paul as a place to call home.
I’ll continue to work hard to celebrate the diversity of each of us, and to give everyone a voice.
A Safe Community for Everyone
Everyone, no matter who they are, wants to feel safe in the place they call home. “Home” may be This looks different for each of us, and as it’s crucial we seek to understand as many of those perspectives as possible. My approach to community safety falls into 3 areas:
- Transparent communication with our fire department and police department
- Welcoming community input
- Maintaining quality infrastructure
Transparent communication with our fire department and police department
I will continue to maintain open and transparent communication with police and fire departments. West St. Paul’s police and fire departments have been experiencing an increase in calls year after year. Our police and fire departments continue to see a year-after-year increase in calls, and they have my full support in efficiently allocating resources when staffing becomes an issue. For additional support, we aim to use our resources the best way we can through community education, providing mental health services, and partnering with surrounding cities and counties, when possible.
Welcoming community input
Residents should feel confident the City will take action if residents feel unsafe or threatened in their homes. I’d advocate additional support through neighborhood meetings with the police, increasing traffic studies by our public works department, or tracking speed data from cars traveling in residential streets. Your experiences in this area are valid, and I want to hear from you to move forward with ideas for resolving the issues you face in your neighborhood.
Maintaining quality infrastructure
Infrastructure isn’t the most exciting thing in our City, yet it’s something that should always be in focus. We have to continue maintenance of our roads, sidewalks, trails, sewers, and parks to avoid crumbling roads and failing lift stations. We must continue to upgrade our parks to make them safe and accessible, and continue momentum for the community’s ongoing desire to have a walkable and bikeable City.
Responsible Economic Advocacy
We work hard for our money in West St. Paul. We better manage it right and know how it’s spent. As a City council member, I focus on financial responsibility when it comes to taxpayer funds. Here’s how:
- We partner with Minnesota’s legislative leaders and commissioners. We’ve been very fortunate for close partnerships between City councilmembers and our state representative, Rick Hansen, and state senator, Matt Klein. We’ve identified ways they can advocate for us at the state legislature for funding to meet West St. Paul needs. I’ll make sure those important and critical partnerships continue as we welcome new state lawmakers and a county commissioner into our City.
- We make responsible fiscal decisions. We’ve been able to efficiently manage our debt, use the voter-approved sales tax increase to fix our roads when they need it, and successfully focus on our long-term plans. As a result, In 2021, the City’s portion of property taxes saw the smallest increase since 2016 at 5.15%, a drastic drop from the double digit rates we all felt in 2018 and 2019. I’ll work to make sure we keep our levy as low as we can while still maintaining our quality day-to-day operations.
- We make smart investments. We have a duty to continue being mindful about spending, and to make sure we’re making smart decisions when investing. City street repairs, sidewalks, and community amenities are worth investing in for those who live here now, and for new residents in the future.
Listening to YOU
My goal as a City councilmember is to amplify the voices of our residents when decisions are being made, and how they’re being prioritized in West St. Paul. We all have different interests and values, and it’s important all are acknowledged. I’ve truly enjoyed learning what’s important to residents along the way. Here’s what you shared with me:
- Creating community. We’ve heard time and time again that people in West St. Paul need a place to gather and create a sense of community with one another – a community center, green space, park improvements, and sit-down restaurants. As we look at future development opportunities, we want more leverage to make those decisions through our Economic Development Authority (EDA). I’m excited wee can invest in development opportunities important both to you, and our future.
- Implementing your ideas. Residents have shared about detailed items of great importance to them, like making pet licenses valid for the lifetime of the pet, loosening the requirements to have backyard chickens, and implementing a ban on gay conversion therapy. After learning from residents, I researched the issues, and brought them to City staff for discussion. Each of these concerns were addressed without much debate by our City Council. While it’s not always that easy, I always want to hear from you about your concerns, and we’ll work through them as a team.
Whether it’s an email you’ve sent in the middle of the night, a phone call on a Saturday morning, or if you’ve spoken during Citizen Comments at a council meeting, I’m a better City Councilperson when I listen to your needs and desires for the place you call home.