Here’s how the Highland District Council election in St. Paul was pitched to me as the perfect hyperlocal story: 70-year-old former Vikings tight end Stu Voight was going to be there to campaign for one of the board candidates. And I said, “That’s great! Brain damage is exactly what neighborhood politics needs more of.”
But first you’re probably wondering: what is a District Council? In Minneapolis we have 70 neighborhood associations. In St. Paul they have 17 district councils. And the best way to explain the difference: district councils are like if a dozen Minneapolis neighborhood associations got together to form a NATO-style military alliance. If you’re doubting this military alliance analogy, you should know that one of St. Paul’s other district councils calls itself the “Fort Road Federation.”
Funded by the City of St. Paul, district councils serve an engagement and advisory function similar to Minneapolis neighborhood organizations. They have no official policy-making power, other than whatever clout might be ceded to them by individual members of the city council.
On my arrival at Highland Park Middle School I was immediately reminded of a DFL convention, just with better food. There was an all-you-can-eat sandwich buffet provided by Jimmy John’s. Days later, I’m still recovering. I think I had 13 of those little sandwich sections.Continue reading “My report from St. Paul’s Highland District Council election”