The Curious Case of Councilmember Chris Tolbert:  A Councilmember who won’t listen and won’t be heard on the Saint Paul Ford Plant Site


Public service is an honorable profession.

It is one that we, as Americans, do not value enough.

Public service isn’t just about being a politician or an elected official.

Teacher, police officer, firefighter, EMS personnel, soldier, tree trimmer, city planner, legislative aide and a host of other jobs in and out of government, and not decided upon at the ballot box are important and vital areas of public service in American life.

Being an elected official, however, comes with its own duties and responsibilities.  In many ways those duties and responsibilities can affect the way we live our lives in our communities.

For good or bad.

Such is the Curious Case of Councilmember Chris Tolbert.

He is the Ward Three Councilmember who has the most impact on the outcome of the future zoning of the Ford Plant site in Highland Park.

The same City Councilmember who won’t delay a vote on the plan until after the next Mayor is sworn into office in January.

Why won’t he delay the vote?

He has suggested that it is because the Ford Motor Company will soon bring its property to market.

How he knows this, and why it matters, only he seems to know.

Our City Councilmember, who is entrusted with a vote that could decimate the value of your home, create a deluge of new car and truck traffic on currently quiet neighborhood roads and remove the one last remaining hope for a historic expansion of green space in Saint Paul, won’t tell us much of anything about his position on this issue.

Does he support 10-story high buildings on the Ford site?


Does he support a radical expansion of park space, green space and recreational space on the Ford Site?


Does he support reducing the amount of population density from 10,000 people on less than 140 acres of land to something reasonable and less radical?


These questions were all asked of Councilmember Tolbert by myself and a few neighbors at his City Hall Office last week.

We even asked him to delay the vote to allow the people of St. Paul, and particularly those in his ward, to better understand the full impact of the city’s plan for zoning on the Ford site.

At this question he quickly found his voice.


But, I don’t need Chris Tolbert to tell me where he stands on the Ford Plant Zoning Plan anymore.

I will just take his public statements at face value.

And, his public support for the Saint Paul Ford Plant zoning plan tell me this.

  • Chris Tolbert supports mass density on the Ford Plant site adding up to 10,000 more residents on less than 140 acres of land
  • Chris Tolbert supports 10 story buildings on the Ford Plant site.
  • Chris Tolbert supports 30,000 more vehicle trips EACH DAY on our neighborhood streets.
  • Chris Tolbert supports hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer subsidies to corporate development interests.

What doesn’t Chris Tolbert support?

  • Chris Tolbert does not support delaying the final vote on the Ford Plant Site.

I have voted for Chris Tolbert for his re-election to the City Council.  I believe I have supported his campaign financially.

I never expected anything from him in return for that support nor should I have expected anything.

I don’t pretend to know why a City Councilmember, on the most impactful issue in a generation in his Ward, cannot find his voice to tell the people he represents what he stands for – or what he stands against.

This much, however, I do know – you can make a difference.

First, tell the City Council you OPPOSE the Ford Site Zoning and Public Realm Master Plan by clicking the link below.

Make sure you make it clear that you OPPOSE the Ford Site Zoning and Public Realm Master Plan and you want the City Council to DELAY the vote until a new Mayor is sworn into office in January:

Second, contact City Councilmember Chris Tolbert at the following email addresses and phone number.

Ask Councilmember Tolbert to DELAY the vote on the Ford Plant Zoning Plan AND that you OPPOSE the current Ford Plant Zoning Plan.

Phone: 651.266.8630

Email: and

Don’t wait until Chris Tolbert finds his voice.

Use yours now.

Before it’s too late.





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