Tom Goldstein for Saint Paul
Tom grew up just outside of Washington, DC, attended public schools in Maryland, and came to Minnesota in 1975 to attend Carleton College. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, he realized that he preferred the pace of the Twin Cities to that of the D.C. area, eventually settling in St. Paul in 1984 and purchasing a home in the Macalester-Groveland neighborhood in 1985. Right after college, he briefly worked for the Hennepin County Department of Economic Assistance, then enrolled in the evening program of the William Mitchell College of Law, where he earned his juris doctor (JD) degree in 1988.
Since 2004, Tom has been proud to call the Hamline Midway neighborhood home. His son, Mathew, a recent college graduate, spent 13 years in the Saint Paul Public Schools before graduating from Central High School in 2011.
Entrepreneur and Business Owner
While attending law school, Tom founded the Sports Collection retail store at Grand and Hamline Avenues, a popular sports fan hangout that became a neighborhood fixture known for its great customer service, friendly atmosphere, and commitment to mentoring local high school and college students who often found employment there.
In 1988, Tom opened a second store at 44th and France Avenues in Edina, but sold that store in 1991 so that he could focus on community endeavors in St. Paul. In 1992, he formed a mail order venture and auction house, TG Sports Enterprises, which specialized in historic sports memorabilia, and continued to operate that business after he closed his retail store in 1997. That same year, Tom revived the literary baseball journal, Elysian Fields Quarterly, a publication that he produced and edited for the next 11 years.
As a result of his retail experiences in which he came into contact with thousands of St. Paul residents, organization leaders, public officials, and the like, Tom recognized a desire to make a greater commitment to his adopted community. While still in law school he served on the Macalester-Groveland Community Council and the original Ayd Mill Task Force, and in 1989 he co-founded with St. Paul Parks and Recreation the annual St. Paul Gus Macker 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament, serving as volunteer coordinator and tournament director until 1993.
In 1998, as the new publisher of Elysian Fields Quarterly, Tom was thrust into the national debate about public subsidies for sports stadiums. Although a longtime baseball fan, he recognized that corporate welfare for wealthy team owners made no sense, and in 1999 he was proud to author a cover story in City Pages about the issue and play a key role in helping to defeat former Saint Paul Mayor Norm Coleman’s attempt to raise the local sales tax to finance a new Twins stadium in downtown St. Paul.
One important lesson Tom repeatedly learned from that experience is that citizen involvement is crucial if we want to have any kind of say over what happens in our community, especially when it concerns “big picture” goals.
Neighborhood Advocacy & Education Activism
As a result of his political baptism in the stadium controversy, Tom embraced his role as a citizen activist and became involved in other local issues as well, including the conceal and carry debate, the INS separation ordinance, and the funding decisions of the St. Paul public schools. In 2001, he was elected treasurer of the JJ Hill Montessori PTO, and the next year became its chair, helping to mobilize parents in protest against budget cuts proposed by the School Board that ultimately were rescinded once the public had the chance to be heard.
In 2003-04, he served on the site council at JJ Hill and also became active with Parents United Network, a non-partisan statewide organization bringing together parents and other Minnesotans to support quality E-12 public education. These experiences spurred him to run for the Saint Paul School Board in 2005, and after winning endorsement from the St. Paul DFL, Minneapolis Star Tribune, and St. Paul Pioneer Press, was elected to a four-year term.
Social Justice Work
In 2004, Tom made the transition from businessman to community organizer and advocate, including positions working on affordable housing for the Minnesota Housing Partnership, volunteer coordinator and staff attorney for the Minnesota Justice Foundation, committee administrator at the Minnesota State Senate, and union representative and consultant for SEIU Healthcare Minnesota.
In more recent years, he has worked as a Voter Protection Coordinator with Obama for America and the DFL Party, making sure all Minnesotans had the opportunity to cast their ballots in 2012 and 2016; served as a citizen lobbyist to end gun violence in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy; co-founded the Connect Saint Paul broadband campaign to achieve universal, affordable, high-speed internet in St. Paul; and co-founded the neighborhood preservation group Historic Hamline Village.
In early 2015, Tom pushed for sensible redevelopment of the Midway Shopping Center as part of the Union Park District Council Smart Site Working Group, with an emphasis on robust community engagement so that the public ends up with a project that greatly enhances the neighborhood and contributes to an increase in the property tax base. He has been an outspoken opponent of the proposed soccer stadium on the former bus barn site and the accompanying $18.5 million in public infrastructure promised the Minnesota United team.
Tom is also the former chair of the Hamline Midway Coalition Development Committee and a member of Save Our Saint Paul Neighborhoods (SOSPN).