- Arts & Lifestyle
- Special Sections
- Community Directory
- Ticket Offers
A neighborhood in transition: What's at stake for St. Paul's East side in the SD 67 primary
As an East Side resident of Saint Paul, I may be biased. I believe the heart and soul of Saint Paul is at stake in the upcoming Senate District 67 primary. On August 2, at Pathways on the Park, 170 N. Ruth Street, the League of Women Voters and board members of the District 1 Community Council are holding a candidate forum for the 3 DFL candidates who are vying to be on the November ballot for the open Senate 67 seat. The doors will open at 6:30 and the debate will start at 7.
Senate District 67 is comprised of several neighborhoods. Namely, Battle Creek, Dayton's Bluff, The Greater East Side, and part of Payne/Phalen. When you think of Saint Paul, it has always been the blue collar, hard working, hockey playing twin of the two cities. The East Side epitomizes that tradition. The East Side is the home of Herb Brooks and the part of 3M that actually made stuff. Summit Avenue may be the pretty face. Downtown may be the nerve center that keeps us running. But if you are looking for the heart of Saint Paul, you might just find it in the people of SD 67.
Right now, the heart of Saint Paul is hurting. According to the group Isaiah, 60% of all foreclosures in Saint Paul are concentrated on the East Side, targeted by predatory lenders. The iconic 3M campus has been demolished. We don't need a doctor to fix it. We need a fighter. This Thursday may go a long way in helping to decide who that fighter is going to be.
The East Side has changed dramatically over the years. It is still a blue collar place. It votes, almost religiously, for Democrats. The partisan index, courtesy of Left MN is +19 Democratic. However, it is more of the hard knocks, union, working class Democrat than the big city, progressive Democrat.
We are a community in transition. We still have the oldest Italian Restaurant in all of Saint Paul, and the legacy of Swede Hollow. Now you can also visit dozens of restaurants at the Hmong Village or one of numerous award winning Mexican eateries. We've lost most of our hockey teams, but you can always catch a great soccer game.
Transition is always hard. With recent hard times, it's hard for some not to associate the changing make up of the district with the perceived decline. SD 67 has the fourth highest minority percentage in the state. How will our candidates unite our diverse communities? We're a union district, but unions have been on the defensive for thirty years. How will our candidates bring the labor movement to brand new populations and grow the movement? The DFL values diversity, not out of some misguided political correctness, but because diversity of perspectives bring strength to any organization. Our strength is in our hard work and our diversity. Which candidate is going to work for us?
MPP, above all else is a place for Democracy to flourish. I encourage any of the campaigns to write a diary about their candidate and I will promote it to the front page. Brief descriptions of the candidates after the break.
All three candidates are good people. All three have spent years serving SD 67 in the party and in the community. The trick will be deciding who best serves our neighborhood today. After the debate, I will explain who I support, and why. Again, if any of the campaigns would like to post their thoughts to the blog I am happy to help. The candidate names are linked to their websites, for more in depth information.
Tom Dimond-If we were to categorize the candidates, Tom is framing himself as the progressive candidate. His initial candidacy was, in fact, a response to the perceived Blue Dog nature of former Senator John Harrington.
Good jobs, Housing, Health Care for All, Strong Schools, Transportation, and the Environment. My priority is a more prosperous Minnesota that provides everyone an opportunity to succeed. As Paul Wellstone said, " We all do better when we all do better". There is much we can accomplish together.
Tom's biggest endorsements come from East Side leaders Sheldon Johnson, the long time rep from 67B, and Kathy Lantry, the city council president. One of Tom's biggest accomplishments was helping with connections and work to bring Metro State University campus to the East Side. This was a developmental coup for a neighborhood that has not always been considered first, and Metro has been a great fit.
Foung Hawj- With over two decades of service to the DFL and the East Side, Foung might be considered the "new comer" to politics, but his service is certainly not new. Foung's strengths are both personal and professional.
He brings an educational background rooted in technology. If the East Side is to grow, those will be the types of jobs we need to attract. Foung also brings a personal story of courage and perseverance to a district rich in immigrant history. I would say his strengths have been in bringing diverse communities together and into the DFL, growing the movement.
Foung was recently endorsed by the Sierra Club. Prominent supporters include former representatives Cy Thao and Steve Trimble. Foung is also endorsed by former Saint Paul school board member Kazoua Kong-Thao and former city council member Lee Helgen.
I believe that my past experiences have prepared me to represent the East Side in the Minnesota Senate and that fair representation at the Capitol needs to include all members of our community. Vote for me, because I am a servant leader that will work hard for you and be accessible to all.
Robert Humphrey-Robert is the old school, East Side labor guy. Of the three,I would consider him the inside guy. He has garnered, almost exclusively, the labor endorsements: carpenters, electricians, construction workers, MAPE, and AFSCME. His strengths appear to be his close relationship with these Democratic and East Side stalwarts. His day job in the cities department of safety and inspections has him working closely and daily with local businesses. He also has political experience as a legislative assistant.
Robert is also supported by local leaders Saint Paul City Councilmember Dan Bostrom, Ramsey County Commissioner Jim McDonough, State Representative Tim Mahoney, Former Saint Paul City Councilmember Gladys Morton, Saint Paul City Councilmember Chris Tolbert, Metropolitan Council Member Rich Kramer, and State Senator Kari Dziedzic.
If you have questions for the candidates, please post them in the comments. I will see if I can relay them Thursday.
Senate 67 neighborhood demographics
170 N. Ruth Street
Saint Paul, MN