Endorsement: Amy Brendmoen for Ward 5 on the St. Paul City Council

There are four candidates in St. Paul’s Ward 5: incumbent Amy Brendmoen, Bob Blake, Jaime Hendricks, and Suyapa Miranda.

Jaime Hendricks is a big fan of the St. Paul Trash lawsuit. She has a section on her website defending gun rights and the second amendment — which you don’t see much in local politics. I found her answers at the Ward 5 candidate forum to be lacking in specificity, but indicative of someone I don’t agree with on a lot.

I liked Bob Blake‘s performance at the candidate forum. He is more thoughtful than the issues page on his website. But he shouldn’t be your first choice.

Suyapa Miranda. I found her website bio and her personal introduction at the Ward 5 candidate forum very appealing. She really emphasizes how she was drawn to her neighborhood because of transit and walkability; and she makes street safety and transit a big part of her platform. She seems to really care about this stuff, and I assumed this would be her strength. But her answer to a question about street design — where she pushed back against the idea of “road diets” — made me like her less than Brendmoen on this issue.

Amy Brendmoen is the incumbent and the current President of the St. Paul City Council.

I especially liked one thing in particular (Naomi Kritzer also flagged this) from the Ward 5 candidate forum. Brendmoen took a fairly open-ended and general question about street design and gave a specific answer that I bet a lot of people in the audience didn’t like:

“The city is moving towards a complete streets model when it rebuilds streets. And that’s really putting people at the center of planning. Whether it’s people who are walking, people who are in a wheelchair, people who are riding a bicycle, people who are riding a bus, people who are driving. We’re moving away from a system that really just benefits moving cars as fast as possible through communities, but instead making communities livable, and walkable, and breathable. These things include road diets, they include bumpouts, and they also include encouraging fast moving traffic to go on the highway… It’s about putting people at the center of planning for roads instead of letting cars be the king.”

It’s the hallmark of a true leader: fearlessly jumping at the chance to piss off more than half the people in a room.

Another related thing (also flaggged by Naomi) is how Brendmoen goes straight at issues where she knows people are unhappy with her. She answered another very general question about historic preservation and used it as an opportunity to address the controversial demolition of an old church building. She didn’t have to bring it up, but she did: “I know there’s people who are not going to vote for me because of that one specific issue. And that’s a shame because it could have been avoided if there was a historic designation on the property before it was sold.” She went on to explain how she’s working on a solution: finding resources to survey the city to designate historic properties before they’re sold.

In her answers to the Neighbors for More Neighbors questionnaire, Brendmoen equivocated on the idea of ending single-family zoning restrictions: “I want to be sure there are opportunities to add density in areas where it makes sense.” She was unequivocal in her support of ending minimum parking requirements. [Read the other candidate responses.]

Amy Brendmoen is a leader who doesn’t retreat from controversial issues. She has the political courage to take difficult positions and defend them. She’s helped pass the minimum wage and earned sick and safe time in St. Paul. She votes to make streets safer for people walking and rolling. Voters in St. Paul’s Ward 5 should make Amy Brendmoen their first choice on Tuesday, Nov. 5.