Create Just and Safe Communities
Let's work within the city and community to promote greater safety and trust in public institutions and law enforcement. I will address and eliminate implicit and explicit bias in hiring practices and in law enforcement through increased training, and community and relationship-based policing and programming. We should support effective civilian oversight structures; retain and enforce the INS/Police Separation ordinance (Sanctuary Cities); and fight legislative attempts to levy fines on protesters. We need better education of police on mental health issues, and we need to encourage the use of co-responders (mental health professionals) and the use of de-escalation techniques over force. There should be more independent investigations in cases of police misconduct; and we must support and expand restorative justice programs.
Jobs & Economic Development
Pass a $15/hour Living Wage Ordinance
Let's implement a $15/hour minimum/living wage, phased in over 4-6 years. A Minneapolis study shows this policy will raise 71,000 families out of poverty. There is no social program anyone could devise that will help working families more. If we consider work to have dignity, we must ensure our workers can live with dignity and pay for the basics of a good life, including food and housing.
Create Opportunities to Fill Jobs That Exist Now
Concordia University economist Bruce Corrie has identified the top ten occupations in demand in the Twin Cities right now. We must work with schools and businesses to identify the skills needed for in-demand professions.
We can inspire students by bringing in successful role models from those professions, inform them about the possibilities open to them, and provide educational opportunities so they are prepared to assume those positions. For example, since registered nurses are the top profession in demand (and other health care jobs fill 2 of the top 10 spots), I would work with the Minnesota Nurses' Association to support outreach, particularly by and to communities of color, to educate young women and men about jobs in the medical profession.
Also, I would do an inventory and analysis of available city jobs to ensure that there is a match between required qualifications and qualifications actually needed to do the job. In Hennepin County, such an analysis is resulting in greater access and hiring of a more diverse employee body.
Create and Implement an Energy Action Plan
I'll create an energy action plan - with substantive public input - to transition to policies that emphasize energy efficiency and promote clean, affordable, reliable, local, and equitable energy. We should invest in community-owned solar, and investigate the possibility of using our city-owned public roofs and spaces (including our school roofs) to install solar gardens. In so doing, we'll provide living wage jobs to underserved communities, reduce dependence on fossil fuels, and promote social, economic, and environmental justice.
What if we could help Saint Paul Public schools and over 1,000 low-income families cut their energy costs, take bold steps towards addressing climate change, and create hundreds of local jobs at once? We can make Saint Paul a leader in community owned clean energy with local economic development and immediate benefits for St. Paul families.
- 70 school buildings are initial candidates for cost-effective solar with $7.2 million in roof lease revenue and energy bill savings for the Public Schools at no upfront cost (benefits increase with initial investment).
- $11.4 million in energy savings and $8.2 million in cooperative equity for Saint Paul residents who subscribe to community solar on Saint Paul Public School district buildings.
- 28.5 million kWh - enough for 4,000 homes - of clean energy per year for 25 years.
- 426 FTE jobs during construction with 50% minority hiring requirements and 9FTE per year for 25 years in operations and maintenance.
- A role model for Saint Paul commercial and industrial corridors and public buildings in other Minnesota cities to lead the way of energy justice and climate solutions
- Universal access to affordable clean energy with options for no upfront cost and net monthly savings for all Saint Paul energy users with a preference to parents, teachers, and staff or Saint Paul Public Schools. This project will help low-income families reduce their energy burden, the second largest component of housing costs after rent.
- Cooperative ownership of any solar projects that are not directly owned by the school district, ensuring democratic control and community wealth building.
- Workforce development and training with a focus on closing racial disparities in hiring and a commitment to 50% minority hiring on solar installations.
- Opportunities for youth education and engagement in clean energy, one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy.
We've been in the thrall of the 'bright, shiny object' syndrome, with too many resources directed to stadiums, and larger building projects, including the Palace Theater, with major cost overruns. I support new construction and renovation projects, particularly as community anchors, but let's finance them responsibly and sustainably.
We should restrict the use of TIF (tax increment financing), which essentially waives the city's right to collect taxes on development deals for a prescribed period of time. When St. Paul over-uses TIF, we end up shortchanging the rest of the city and losing money that should be directed to projects and programming that directly benefits residents.
TIF should not be automatically attached to development deals. We need to return to the original intent of TIF in the 1970s - the 'but for' use of TIF, meaning that TIF is not used unless it's something with a clear public benefit that would not take place 'but for' the use of TIF. Additionally, let's use some of the criteria banks use to determine credit-worthiness when developers ask for TIF. Let's analyze the borrower's balance sheet, cash flow statements, inventory turnover rates, debt structure, management performance, and overall market conditions. We should also limit St. Paul's responsibility for cost-over-runs to a percentage of the overall cost of the projects. How many fewer TIF requests might we have if we adopted that attitude and asked these questions?
Finally, zoning should drive development, not the other way around. If we want sustainable success at projects like the redevelopment of the Ford site, and want them to include cutting edge building techniques with energy efficiency and renewable energy, preservation of green space, and affordable housing that addresses the needs of current and future residents, and fits into the neighborhood, then we need to be very firm in our zoning requirements.
Use principles of Lean Urbanism to Reduce Barriers to Starting New Businesses and Growing Established Ones
Big, top-down development often has easier access to large amounts of capital and the assistance that comes with it. But most of our jobs come from local businesses and local entrepreneurs who often lack the resources to navigate the system. Lean urbanism seeks to help small entrepreneurial businesses by reducing unnecessary regulation that frustrates and delays small businesses' ability to opening and/or expanding. Currently, there's a pilot project on the East Side working in a small area. Let's see what we can learn from that project that we can expand to other areas of the city.
Let's also provide small business navigators at city hall. While individual departments are very helpful, there's not enough interaction between them.
Small businesses need easy answers to:
- Who do I talk to first?
- What do I do first?
- What do I do next?
- What do I do when requirements of one department seem at odds with the requirements of another?
Let's hire business navigators with multiple language skills - navigators who will help individuals go through the system in a more pain-free, less frustrating way.
Promote a Multi-Modal Transportation System
I support multi-modal transportation options, with increased emphasis and funding for transit. Let's extend bus routes to job sites, such as those that go from the East Side to the Maplewood Mall. I'll support programs that emphasize pedestrian safety, traffic calming and extend bikeways.
With rental vacancy rates below 2%, and both rental and ownership costs growing at a faster pace than incomes, there is a great need for more affordable housing. Policies I support include:
- Accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and inclusionary zoning: Allowing what are sometimes known as ‘granny flats’, SFH renovations into duplexes, or garage-over units can provide affordable rental housing options for young or elderly singles. We could provide design templates so ADUs are in line with neighborhood standards. These can provide rental income to help pay down an owner’s mortgage while allowing future flexibility to use the space later as a home office, lodging for teenagers, or elderly family members.
- Streamlined permitting. Any housing development project meeting true "affordability" could be automatically entitled to expedited review by the city, even to the point of delaying decisions on other development proposals technically ahead in the queue.
- Supplying smaller apartments and tiny houses suitable both for those starting out and older people wanting to downsize. This increases density, cuts costs for buyers, and puts more affordable housing within reach. If we eliminate minimum sizes for homes and rely on standard building codes to ensure safe housing, we can expand housing opportunities.
- Reduce parking minimums to lower costs.
- Enforce and expand the 20% requirement for affordable housing in all new development. Give density bonuses for added housing units.
- Sell un-used city land to non-profit affordable housing developers at low (or no cost). The city owns land around the city (parking lots, abandoned properties, etc.). We could give the land away to people willing to build low-income housing.
- Continue relationships and support through public housing grants with programs like ‘Pride in Living’.
- Partner with unions (who use investment/pension funds to develop housing above Lunds) in a TIF-free relationship.
- Pursue relationships with large foundations to develop/attract additional funding sources for affordable housing.
- Create a program matching willing seniors in single family homes with homeless youth to reduce the property tax burden on seniors so they can stay in their homes, and providing homeless youth with a safe, affordable play to stay, possibly reducing their rent in return for simple services. Both parties would need to be screened and no matches would occur without a contract, covering rent and possible services provided (shoveling, mowing, etc.)
Wiser and More Just Use of City Resources
One of the first places children and community members come into contact with city government is at schools, rec centers, and libraries. We must more generously fund these, particularly in under-served areas. Let's direct more city resources to communities and neighborhoods, including expanded recreation center hours, programming, and summer jobs for youth.
Create Diversity and Professional Development Opportunities for City Staff
I'll create a pilot program similar to the one administered jointly between MAP for Non-Profits and the International Coach Federation of Minnesota to provide low-cost coaching to city employees, particularly new hires during the onboarding process. A study from the University of Warwick showed that the productivity of employees who are coached goes up by 12%, with greater engagement and life-work balance. Simply put, happy employees are more productive and better able to serve the public, and new, diverse hires need the support to be successful.
Create a Mayor's Coaching Circle for Young People Demonstrating Leadership Ability
I want to solicit a diverse group of high school sophomores and juniors who demonstrate leadership ability and who wish to serve their community. As mayor, I want to coach them to achieve balance, and to put the city's resources behind them for projects they want to lead and initiate in their communities, as well as creating opportunities for them to job-shadow and see a future in public service.
Aging in Community
A city advisory committee on aging recommends collaboration on efforts to advance:
- Housing as a fundamental safety, health and security issue for aging residents, particularly those who cannot afford or do not choose to live in traditional senior only housing.
- Inter-generational community members who promote trust and shared interests.
- City and county-sponsored collaborative efforts to advance the concept of aging in Community by, with and for neighborhood residents.
To address this issue, and to enable seniors to remain in their homes, and to address the challenge of teen and youth homelessness, I propose creating opportunities to match willing seniors who wish to live independently with homeless youth seeking stable housing. It is possible to combat loneliness, retain independence and provide security for both seniors and youth with shared interests and needs.
Increase Community Engagement Using Values of Transparency, Responsiveness, Inclusivity, Accessibility, and Diversity (TRIAD)
I want to increase community engagement in decision-making, by recruiting and enrolling more disenfranchised communities in the mayoral appointment process and making sure the process is more transparent, responsive, inclusive, accessible, and diverse.
As mayor, I would engage the City Council, District Councils, and community members at a more substantive level and consider them part of my solutions-driven team. We can increase transparency and accessibility by including information on the city website about who serves on mayoral boards & commissions, their contact information, and their term limits. Let's share the criteria involved in the selection process for commission appointments and follow up with ongoing training of appointees so they understand their roles and responsibilities while serving on boards and commissions.
To increase accessibility, I would commit to be in the community twice a month with local city council members at a morning coffee shop and afternoon restaurant to greet residents and hear their concerns. Over four years, that would be nearly 100 times, any resident could interact with their mayor.