…is not about me as a candidate.
I am not and will not be a candidate for Mayor.
Nobody has asked me to be one.
I don’t desire to be one.
I would be a horrible candidate.
And, I would lose.
I don’t care to lose.
I do care, though, deeply about St. Paul and its future.
In my career I have been honored and privileged to serve two of St. Paul’s most recent Mayors.
While I have not had the honor and privilege to serve our current Mayor, he is someone I consider a friend.
While I did not support his initial election, I have cast votes for his re-election.
If memory serves me correctly, I may have contributed to his re-election campaign.
If someone bothers to look that up and I have not, then let me at least live by the caveat that I shared in writing “…if memory serves me correctly…”
Mayor Chris Coleman is a good person. I say this as someone who worked alongside him on issues of importance to St. Paul’s future. We didn’t always agree or see eye-to-eye but he operated with integrity and class.
I have been on the opposite side of him on some issues during his tenure as Mayor. But, I will never forget his kindness and courage in standing up for me at times when other colleagues of his on the City Council were focused on knocking me down.
I think he has done a good job as Mayor. I disagree with any number of his initiatives, his policies and how those policies have been promoted, pursued and enacted.
There has never been a doubt for a minute about Chris Coleman loving St. Paul in a way that would be difficult to compare with any other former St. Paul Mayor. It is in his veins and in his heart and his DNA.
The upcoming race to replace him is not about Chris Coleman, however.
Unfortunately, given what we have heard so far – and largely not heard – from the currently announced candidates for Mayor one could be forgiven for believing they intend to be Chris Coleman’s 4th term of Mayor.
Which, at this stage of the game, means they are likely to pursue the same policies with regard to taxes and spending, business regulation, the development of the Ford Plant, the approach to enforcing quality of life crimes, any number of major development projects currently pending before the City and countless other issues.
St. Paul’s next Mayor can’t simply be a carbon copy of Chris Coleman.
Nor can she or he be clones of Norm Coleman of 1993 or Randy Kelly of 2001.
Times change. Times have changed.
While at the core the issues of keeping safe, clean and affordable have remained remarkably consistent the approach to how to do these things successfully have changed in many ways.
As I scan the current field for Mayor of St. Paul I see four men who are accomplished, have given back to the community, are successful in their own way and each loves St. Paul deeply.
But, truth be told, those are the minimum qualifications for any candidate for Mayor of St. Paul.
Representative Tim Mahoney, in a commentary published recently in the Pioneer Press, articulated a critical point: Any candidate for Mayor of St. Paul must be willing and prepared to state their positions on every critical issue facing the City publicly and on the record.
So, as I consider my campaign for Mayor of St. Paul it has absolutely nothing to do with me being a candidate.
Or, me actually having a candidate in, or out, of the race for Mayor.
It’s about me finding a candidate that I can support for the next Mayor of St. Paul.
Someone who isn’t afraid to take public stands on controversial issues. Who is prepared to tell me where he or she stands on the City’s role in public education. Whether the City should take a breath with respect to the development of the Ford Plant site to ensure that 22nd Century thinking – not 21st Century thinking – is guiding that development.
I want to know where she or he stands on enforcing the laws of the City, to be sure.
I also want to know where they stand in support of the men and women of our St. Paul Police Department.
What are they going to do to address the great disparity in pay and benefits between St. Paul Police and their suburban counterparts?
What is their strategy for recruitment and retention to continue to City’s strong tradition of putting the best and brightest on our city streets?
How will they make it clear to officers that their Mayor has their back when it comes to enforcing the law on the small things, as well as the big things?
I want to know, publicly, where candidates stand with respect to the myriad of regulations the City has, and will have, imposed on small, medium and large business in St. Paul.
I want to understand their plans for making downtown as safe and clean and affordable as possible for everyone, including what is their plan for upgrading the City skyway system and making it a safe and enjoyable experience for employees, visitors and residents.
What are their ideas for riverfront development where we actually have restaurants and nightlife and activity that honors our riverfront heritage and encourages engagement by tourists and visitors on both sides of the downtown riverfront.
I want to know what their strategy is for supporting minority business development and growth in the City, including along the Mississippi Riverfront. What resources, both public and private, will they harness to encourage minority business start-ups – and their success—throughout the City.
I want to know what they believe is the appropriate role of government when it comes to engagement with the private sector and what are their strategies and tactics as it relates to taxes and spending.
I want to know specifically ideas about where they would reorganize and reengineer and reimagine St. Paul City government for the 22nd Century.
And, I want to know what bold ideas, strategies and tactics they intend to develop and deploy to address the divide St. Paul, and other American cities, continue to face on a myriad of social and cultural issues.
My campaign for Mayor isn’t about my candidacy.
It is about finding candidates who understand that putting forward a vision of where they intend to lead the City is the first step towards informing us of what they believe the role of the Mayor is in the 21st Century.
As they help lead the City forward towards the 22nd Century.
Elections have consequences. We all have an obligation to ask the questions we have of the candidates running for Mayor of St. Paul.
They all have an obligation of actually responding to those questions – and also, of sharing with us something more than a campaign slogan or their commitment to plow the snow or fill the potholes.
If we are unwilling to do our part in democracy before an election to get engaged, ask the questions and see the answers we have nobody to blame for our dissatisfaction with the results other than ourselves.
While nobody currently running for Mayor, or likely any of those seriously contemplating running for Mayor, could care less about what I think about their candidacy or who I will support for Mayor — it is important to me.
I am a taxpayer. I have been involved in this community. I have children who were born in this City and have grown up in this City.
I have a stake in St. Paul’s future.
It is that stake which grounds me and demands I continue to seek answers to where current candidates stand on the issues and, if left wanting, seek out others who may have the interest and potential to lead the City forward with a vision they will share and stand upon.
In the end, none of this may matter as my concerns and my issues could very well be nothing more than a footnote in the campaign to replace Chris Coleman as Mayor.
But, it matters to me.
And, as I tell my kids as often as I can, if it matters to them they have an obligation to take a stand.
This is my stand.