Alex Bourne did not respond to the survey.
Pa Der Vang [PV] responded below
Cheniqua Johnson [CJ] responded below
Dino Guerin [DG] responded below
Do you support the current rent stabilization ordinance, and if not, what changes would you apply?
CJ: Overall, I support rent stabilization. AND, I also would like to ensure stabilization ordinances benefit people of all incomes and demographics, and do not harm our low income renters. I was a renter in Saint Paul for a while. I know what it feels like for there to be uncertainty around whether I’ll be able to afford where I currently live next year, or if I will be displaced. Housing affordability is what I’m focused on. I am also a huge supporter of our labor and union partners and would still like to see multipurpose development thrive here in Saint Paul.
PV: I am invested in providing affordable housing to our residents in Ward 7 and all of St. Paul. Incomes have not caught up with the sharp increase in housing cost in St. Paul. Yes I do support the current rent stabilization ordinance which limits rent increases to 3% within a 12 month period.
The city has worked diligently to protect renters’ rights, striving to provide affordable housing to residents while also putting in place mechanisms to improve our housing supply and supporting landlords to continue providing affordable and safe housing. The ordinance includes renters and tenant rights and an appeal process, and a just cause vacancy provision. The ordinance also takes into consideration landlords return on investment when considering a landlord’s request to deviate from the limitations on rent increases.
It is important to approach policy around the cost of housing carefully because while rules limiting rent increase helps to keep the cost of housing down, it may inadvertently affect the supply of housing in Ward 7. I would like to explore this more with the other city council members and develop policy that keeps the best interests of our residents at the center. As city council member, I would work hard to assist people in applying for renter’s property tax refund at the end of the year and explore increasing our section 8 vouchers and public housing units. I would also explore state funding for renters. Finally, I would explore down payment assistance for homeownership and encourage developers to build smaller, more affordable homes, as well as multifamily/multi-unit homes (townhomes/condos) to meet the needs of our very diverse Ward 7. I would work to make homeownership possible for those who desire to take that path.
DG: I did not support the rent stabilization ordinance and I do not support it now. The result of the ordinance has been a decrease in affordable housing construction in Saint Paul. The politicians, special interest groups, and lobbyists that supported this ordinance were shortsighted. They didn't properly consult with the real life experts (which are the owners of the property). If they had they never would've moved forward with this poorly conceived plan that has only hurt the affordable housing market in Saint Paul.
Do you support the construction of the Summit Ave. bike lane?
CJ: I support bike safety and the methods that promote that. Our residents deserve to bike to and from their destination without fear of bodily harm. I would also hope that having some new voices on the council might promote an opportunity for softening the intensity of disagreement.
PV: Yes. This project is being funded by the Parks and Trails Legacy Grant, which is a revenue garnered from a state sales tax increase which ends in 2034. I also support a similar project in Ward 7 and the Great East Side in the future. Opponents of this project worry that the project will disrupt the street’s tree canopy, historic characters as well as concerns about biker safety in a residential neighborhood where there are driveways.
This project will take place over the next 10 to 15 years which will provide a nice transition period for our residents. I support a variety of carbon free transportation options for our residents as we work towards St. Paul’s goal of a carbon neutral society by 2050 by encouraging residents to live car free. The more emission free transportation options we can provide throughout the whole city to our residents, the closer we will be to that carbon neutral goal and fulfilling the goals in our Climate and Resilience Plan. We are slowly moving in that direction with the use of more and more electric city buses and charging stations for electric cars.
DG: Vehicle parking and road space are at a premium in our city and the last thing we need to do is reduce the drivability of our streets. A dedicated bicycle lane on Summit Avenue is a luxury for a few people that does not serve the majority of our citizens. With our winter weather lasting five months and taxpayer money being spent it doesn't make sense to put our limited resources into a bike lane.
Do you support the elimination of zoning for single family housing?
CJ: I support people’s right to live where they want to live and under the conditions they desire to live under. I support safe neighborhoods for children and families, and I support young renters living in environments that feel most conducive to their growth, careers, and livelihood. For many people, the largely single-family residential neighborhood they have lived in, invested in and helped to create is home.
PV: I think that the policy encourages multiunit housing rather than eliminates single family housing, with incentives for multiunit/dense housing. Currently, over 70% of St. Paul’s residentially zoned area is restricted to single family homes. To address the housing shortage in St. Paul, the residential zoning must be adjusted to accommodate multiunit/multifamily housing. In addition, mixed use housing options reduce segregation whereby folks of all incomes can afford to live together in community. Due to historical oppression of immigrant and communities of color, very few can afford to buy single family homes in our tight housing market thus relegating families of color to certain neighborhoods that are often neglected. The zoning changes that would allow multi-unit housing on a city lot are changes that would take place over several years.
This policy would promote renovations of single-family homes into two or three units, promote density in neighborhoods, and provide more housing options to our residents. We already see examples of this in the Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood where older homes have been turned into duplexes, or quadraplexes. This increases the values of homes in these neighborhoods and increases housing options.
DG: I do not support the elimination of zoning for single-family houses. We have many well-established neighborhoods and beautiful housing within our city. I want that to continue and grow. It would be poor long term planning to stack housing units so close together that our city is unrecognizable as far as its beauty and individuality.
What is one action you would take to reduce or neutralize criminal violence to improve residents' sense of safety?
CJ: I would first work to mend police-community relations and build ongoing partnerships. I did a ride along last week with an officer from the Saint Paul Police Department to get a firsthand look at a typical night shift. I'm thankful to the officers for showing me around and answering questions. I also met with a community liaison and a police commander in recent weeks. There are still many good officers doing the very difficult job of keeping us safe. But there will always be room for improvements around culture and police recruitment, and changes in community safety tactics.
We are in a concerning place and many residents have to live in fear of rising crime in their neighborhoods. Harding High School is just two minutes away from my house. I support new school safety protocols that will keep our children safe from violent crime while in learning environments. I look forward to working with the community as well as first responders to create a system that meets the many needs of people in crisis, invests in community and family stability, and ensures accountability and transparency.
PV: I would ensure that residents have their basic needs met which includes housing, education, livable wages, materials goods and food, family support and youth employment and programming, transparent information, mental health support, social support in the form of community safety liaisons, neighborhood networks, and mental health crisis workers. I will pursue equality for all members who feel oppressed by our society regardless of race or ability- those who face oppression must feel recognized and be lifted up.
When peoples’ basic needs are met and social wounds are healed, and when residents feel that the city cares for them, they are more likely to feel a sense of belonging and cohesion with the community. I want residents to feel empowered to take care of their community and their neighbors. I also want to address and acknowledge the historical impact of racial profiling on the lives of the people of color in our city. I would also want the police department to be fully staffed along with additional positions for community liaisons who will work directly with community to ensure community safety.
DG: One of the biggest issues that St. Paul is facing is public safety. I will work to provide a safe living environment for all of our residents and particularly in Ward 7. With that said, juvenile crime has skyrocketed. I will be leader and an advocate for a juvenile detention/care facility where our young people in need can get crisis counseling, mentoring, shelter, nourishment, and guidance to assist them in becoming productive members of society while creating a better life for themselves in the process.
Do you support renegotiation of the franchise agreement with Xcel Energy?
CJ: I support conversations that revolve the best and most cost-effective outcome for residents in Ward 7.
PV: The production of electric and gas energy are the largest sources of carbon emission. Yes I do support renegotiation of the franchise agreement with Xcel Energy to be supportive of St. Paul’s Climate and Resilience Plan and pave a path towards carbon neutral energy sources/sustainable green energy sources, reliable, affordable, and clean energy sources. Renegotiation would offer the city of St. Paul an opportunity to create a strong partnership with Xcel Energy to move towards a carbon free society.
DG: I have found Xcel Energy to provide a quality product backed by the latest technology, well maintained equipment and responsive service repair. As a representative of the city it is my job to obtain the best possible service for the best price. An important part of that is closely evaluating all franchise fees the city brings in. If it’s feasible to get a better deal for the city taxpayers I will get it done.
What is your favorite thing and the least desirable thing from the Carter Administration?
CJ: I’m appreciative of the way the administration has supported my leadership and vision for the Eastside of Saint Paul. I would like to see more collaboration between the mayor and renters, business owners, and community leaders in my ward. I believe communication can always be stronger when it comes to community and government relationships! I think if we can achieve that, we’ll be in an even better position on quite a few eastside issues. I have heard from quite a few of my neighbors a need to see our local officials out more in our community and I will be working pretty hard to be that bridge builder and coalition styled leader who can connect with folks no matter their neighborhood, longevity on the east side, race, gender, sexuality, age, religion, etc.
PV: My favorite thing about the Carter Administration is the wide array of efforts they are pursuing including affordable housing, transportation infrastructure, carbon neutrality, land back and reparations, care and preservation of natural green space, development within the city. I’m not sure I have a least desirable thing at this moment. They are doing a very hard job.
DG: The most and least desirable detail of the Carter administration are the same. They show up each day ready to work on their agenda. The problem is their agenda is not working for the citizens. Their agenda has resulted in increased crime and increased taxes while decreasing affordable housing, business opportunities, and public safety.
Has the newly organized trash system in Saint Paul been successful and if not, how would you change it?
CJ: I walked into my homeowner’s association office last year to share concerns about our trash system, and by the time I walked out of the office, I was the president of our association. It’s an unusual story, but I share this to say that the trash system is something I’ve been paying attention to as a resident here on the Eastside. It’s a continuing issue in my ward. Just the other day, I witnessed two separate garbage trucks come down the street on a weekday, traveling in two separate directions just to cover one neighborhood. We need more uniformity to get better city services.
PV: The concern is that the current contract is very expensive and there is little choice to residents. In addition, it does not allow residents to share trash bins. For example, if one household cannot fill a trash bin in one week, they should be able to share their bin with the household next to them, which cuts down cost to families. In addition, the city contract should be open to other providers by limiting trash pick-up providers to only a small section of the city per provider, opening the possibility of contracting with other providers. A municipal trash service existed in the past and I’d be happy to explore that with other city councilmembers, but we would need to look at cost and feasibility.
DG: The current trash collection system in the City of St. Paul has not been successful. This is evident by the numerous complaints that are coming from the taxpayers of the city. In order to improve the trash service I will hold the current trash collection company accountable to the taxpayers/customers. Correction action could result in fines to the trash service provider if they are found to be providing inferior service or bringing in another company.
Do you support historic preservation in Saint Paul?
CJ: Saint Paul’s beautiful, historic buildings are what make it the best place to live. There are so many stories to tell here. I would love for us to preserve as much of that history as we can, but I also support revitalization to ensure buildings are safe and inhabitable. Old buildings can be a public health and public safety issue when poorly maintained. I support residents having a say, and I support the city doing all it can to keep buildings up to code, while continuing to preserve the rich history of our city.
PV: Yes I do support historic preservation in Saint Paul. Historic preservation allows us to protect and maintain the cultural heritage of Saint Paul such as historical architecture, art, and significant buildings. Preservation of culture and history leads to a stronger sense of community and belonging. I would however want to explore those histories and ensure that we are not preserving harmful histories that sought to oppress some residents while lifting up and privileging others. I would also want to broaden this work to make room for the ever-diversifying areas of St. Paul such as arts and landmarks in St. Paul that are home to non-white cultures.
DG: I do support historic preservation in St. Paul with the understanding that each project must be examined closely to weigh the benefits versus the cost. I would certainly review the checks and balances to insure the amount of money being spent on a preservation project is worthwhile. It has been my experience that people, particularly career politicians, are willing to spend taxpayer money much more freely than they would their own money.