This letter was first published in the Pioneer Press on October 31st, 2019. Spooky. The published version of this letter and reader comments are available on the Pioneer Press’s website. View on TwinCities.com (Pioneer Press)
We couldn’t agree more that candidates need to “listen, explain and engage” with the residents, as Tane Danger wrote on Wednesday’s opinion page. I do wonder why he singled out Patty Hartmann in the Ward 3 City Council race as not being available for a candidate forum. That is far from the only time that has happened in this campaign cycle and by a number of candidates.
It’s not a surprise, but ironic that Saint Paul STRONG, a non-partisan volunteer organization that works for transparency and accountability in government, has had the same experience with other candidates. In our case, it was mostly the incumbent candidates unwilling to appear at our candidate forums even with notice weeks in advance. Similar to Patty Hartman, Mitra Jalali-Nelson declined our invitation. Chris Tolbert simply refused and Amy Brendmoen completely ignored our request. There was also a listening event for all the candidates. The same three were again unwilling to listen to the residents.
Members of Saint Paul STRONG individually support whomever they like, often competing in the same races. However, we don’t endorse candidates as an organization. We rise above our individual positions to address public process. As both a resource for city government and as watchdogs over poor government, it is disappointing when our candidates and especially our incumbents won’t stand before the residents.
John Mannillo, Yusef Mgeni, Laura Goodman
Steering Committee members of Saint Paul STRONG