I should have posted this as a preview last week or earlier, but we co-hosted a house party for Russ Stark last night with neighbors and fellow bike folks Scott & Carrie. By co-host, i mean that we emailed some people and made cookies, then showed up at their beautiful house and excellent spread complete with little sandwiches.
It was great to be able to spend some time talking about neighborhood issues and developments with someone who knows so much about it. We’ve known Russ mostly through email and various bike-related things he’s done through the Midway TMO, but hadn’t talked that much in person before. Russ has lived in Midway about 7 years (as long as we have), having lived in other cities with both worse and better-laid out than St. Paul, and has made a career of studying city planning and public policy. He’s a policy scholar, a fairly recent arrival, but settled and invested in the neighborhood and its future. He also has kids around the same age as our kids, and in that way represents a lot of new families in the neighborhood with young families.
The other candidates in the race are Randy Schubring, a long-time neighborhood resident and DFL activist, and Bernie Hesse, who is sorely lagging behind with his campaign website, but seems to be getting some endorsements. I don’t know anything about Hesse, but both Stark and Schubring seem to have a good handle on the neighborhood and what needs to be done to steer a course that favors the neighborhoods and residents over the next few years. Schubring has some visible supporters around, with campaign signs (featuring a bike) in a few places. Knowing that he co-founded the St. Paul Bike Classic is enough to raise some interest among us bikies, and he certainly seems to have a good base of political experience too
Between Stark and Schubring, it’s sort of a 3-legged race. They have worked on many of the same neighborhood projects fighting for the same side (SuperTarget, for one), are both major bicycle advocates, and both understand that zoning is one of the key tools to guiding the evolution of Midway as we incorporate light rail and deal with its many ramifications. In short, they’re running in the same direction on a track that i like, and I think they’d both do a good job for the Ward. I’m supporting Russ because I’ve known him longer, we see him often around the neighborhood, and I like his ideas. They’ve both said that they’ll follow the DFL nomination, and i’m sure that whoever wins there will have the support of the other.
It’ll be a very interesting time in the neighborhood over the next few years. There is a lot of good momentum going on; major new construction, older building renovations, the extension of the Greenway along Ayd Mill (unfortunately delayed another year), and of course planning the light rail line. At the same time, there are some gaping vacancies along University and troubling engineering problems in the light rail implementation. It really feels like it’s time to participate in this work to be sure that the human-powered local resident has some space in the new plans, because there aren’t many chances like this for such a major infrastructure change.