Do you have a burning question you want to ask the First Ward St. Paul City Council candidates? Here’s your chance to get a closer look and engage the candidates in a direct and unique way. Twin Cities Daily Planet has invited all the candidates to participate in an online forum about the issues facing First Ward and the city of St Paul, where you get to ask the questions. To get started, we’ve asked the candidates to supply a brief bio, and answer the following question:
“What would be your top three priorities as a member of the St Paul City Council?”
Read the bios that they provided, and their answers to the question, posted below in alphabetical order, and then it’s your turn to ask a question. Post your questions as comments, either using Facebook or our in-house commenting system, and the candidates will give you their replies.
We will continue to update the site with the candidates’ information as we receive it from the candidates. Johnny Howard was the first to respond of the First Ward city council candidates so far. We’re waiting for answers from
- Kazoua Kong-Thao (DFL)
- Debbie Montgomery (DFL)
- Noel Nix (DFL)
- Dai Thao (DFL)
- Mark Voerding (DFL)
- Paul Holmgren (Republican-endorsed)
Johnny Howard’s Bio: Johnny Howard is a 30-year resident and homeowner in Ward One’s Frogtown, where he lives with his wife, Diane. He was the founder and director of the Thomas Dale Block Club, a grassroots organization of hundreds of people united to improve their neighborhood. For 19 years he directed Frogtown’s youth football league. He has served on numerous community organization boards.
Top three priorities:
1. Give all kids a fair shot at a rewarding life. The City Council doesn’t run the schools; the school board does that. But the Council can do plenty to give kids a chance to prosper. This means safe streets, good libraries, decent housing, well-paying jobs for mom and dad, green space and rec centers that are more than a place to bounce a ball. My top priorities are those things under City Council control that help families do well and allow kids to thrive.
2. Harness the opportunities presented by light rail. Light rail development will bring new people, new customers and new business to our neighborhood. We’ve got to make sure that residents are ready to take new jobs. We’ve got to make sure that business gives residents fair consideration for new jobs. And we should emphasize entrepreneur training so that more Ward One residents are equipped to run the businesses that serve the neighborhood. That’s the best ways to build wealth in our community.
3. Go green to build health and wealth. Urban farming and gardening initiatives offer us a tremendous opportunity to build health and wealth in Ward One. Studies consistently show that modest backyard gardens can produce $1000 of the freshest possible food. That’s a $1000 tax-free gift to struggling families. Gardening is exercise that builds health and models self-reliance for kids. Fresh produce beats junk food every day. We should do much, much more to educate and assist backyard gardeners. At the same time, and for similar reasons, we should push hard on developing new bikeways and attractive pedestrian paths to encourage human-powered travel.
Reporting for this article supported in part by Bush Foundation.