Debbie Montgomery answers questions for St. Paul City Council


Debbie Montgomery is the fourth candidate answering a standard list of questions for all the candidates of Ward 1 for St Paul City Council. I requested brief answers, no more than 300 words.

This is the question and answer that I think should encourage you to read more:

7) Please provide an example where you stood up for people or for rights against a powerful organization.

An example of when I stood up against a powerful organization for the people in my Ward was when I negotiated with the Target Corporation on University Ave. pertaining to the new Super Target development. I was able to get them to transfer their employees to other stores and provide bus cards to get to their new locations, while the new store was being built, instead of laying them off, as they were going to do. I also worked with community groups to get the Metropolitan Council to add three additional stops in our Ward, so we could enhance the economic viability being made, and increase the public transportation accessibility to the residents in our Ward.

1) What do you think the job of city council person should accomplish?

The main responsibility of a Saint Paul Council member is to advocate on behalf of all the people within her Ward. To become successful, the Council member must first know the people. She must know the area. She must understand the role and authority of municipal government. And finally, she must have the ability to work with her colleagues on the Council and in the Mayor’s office to clearly articulate the value of investing in her Ward.


2) What is your background? How does this background make you the better choice for city council person?

I am a lifelong resident of the Rondo Community. My entire career has been dedicated to improving the quality of life in Saint Paul. I was the first woman to serve in the Saint Paul Police Department as a Police Officer, Sergeant, Lieutenant, and Commander. In that role, I literally laid my life on the line to make Saint Paul a safer community. I also have four years of experience working as a Saint Paul Council member. I understand what municipal government can accomplish. I have established relationships with other Council members and a track record of working with them and other leaders to move Ward 1 issues forward.

3) What are the unique characteristics of your city council area?

Ward 1 is comprised of several unique neighborhoods. Rondo is the traditional home to the African American community. Frogtown has welcomed waves of immigrants including some of the more recent: Hmong, Somali, Hispanic, Vietnamese, and Karen races. The Summit- University Area is a very socially and racially diverse neighborhood. The Lexington-Hamline and Snelling-Hamline neighborhoods are majorly middle class Caucasians. Ramsey Hill is comprised of upper income based families. The lower North End of Rice St. is comprised of: Hispanics, Asians, African-Americans, and lower income Caucasians. Mt. Airy homes are comprised mainly of: immigrants, Hispanics, and African-Americans. There is a large group of seniors in the ward, as well as many members of the GLBT community.

4) What three goals would you hope to accomplish as city council person?

I want to make Ward 1 a safe place to live, work, and raise a family. I want to make Ward 1 a welcoming home for a diverse range of people – ethnically, socially, and economically. I want to make Ward 1 an economic engine for the city of Saint Paul, to create more well-paying job opportunities with benefits, and provide opportunities for entrepreneurs and growth industries to expand.

5) Since the city council involves negotiation of competing interests, please give an example where you successfully negotiated a difficult problem among multiple parties.

Metro Transit preferred fewer stops and faster service on the new light rail line for the Central Corridor. Residents required more stops to give them access to this amenity. I and others were able to successfully advocate a reasonable number of stops for the community and allow the light rail to still be a swift mass transit option.

6) When do you think it is alright for the city council to give special financial consideration to a single business?

When that business benefits the community in a special way: minority owned, community minded – hires and promotes from within, pays living wages to employees, and/or serves as a special attraction to promote the quality of life within our community.

8) Please tell us why your campaign is better choice (i.e. more organized, works harder, works smarter) with specifics?

My campaign is a grassroots effort of quality people from within the community. I have campaign members from many walks of life, with a wide breadth of experience, who are willing to invest their hard work and expertise in doing what is best for the community.

9) Please tell us how you as an elected official or your campaign would help other DFL endorsed candidates get into office?

I would be happy to appear on other DFL endorsed candidates’ literature and share sign locations and community connections with their campaign staff. I’d be happy to introduce them to other leaders within the Ward 1 community to help get their message out to area voters.

10) If you could magically fix one thing about the city of St Paul right now, what would that one thing be and why?

If I could fix one thing I would want to provide more efficient and comprehensive services that relied on the resources that we have instead of charging a fee for everything (in addition to property taxes). I would want to fix this because I want to streamline how the government finances its’ operations.