Compete in the 21st Century

According to the most recent data gathered by the Wilder Foundation, St. Paul has a poverty rate of 24%, with 67,000 individuals living below the poverty line, including 25,000 children. That’s simply unacceptable in an era when wealth disparity continues to grow unabated and we seem to have no problem finding public funds to build stadiums and luxury condo projects.

Even if you’re not one of the many families struggling from paycheck to paycheck, we are all affected by the symptoms of economic hardship. That’s why St. Paul must begin making the necessary investments in people and public infrastructure that will attract the companies and entrepreneurs creating the high-tech jobs of the future. Only then will we have a realistic chance of lifting people out of poverty and stabilizing our many diverse neighborhoods.

As your City Council Member, I will:

  • Make job creation and attracting cutting-edge businesses to St. Paul my number one priority
  • Advocate for the creation of an “Office of Enterprise Development” that will encourage businesses to locate in St. Paul, identify barriers to making that happen, and provide technical assistance to start-up ventures so that they can find funding sources and successfully navigate the St. Paul municipal code
  • Work to extend the livable wage ordinance to all St. Paul employers — not just those under contract with the city or receiving tax subsidies—with exemptions for small businesses and start-ups
  • Fight for tax policies that do not unduly burden homeowners or local businesses with ever-increasing right of way fees and other assessments

Community Development

The quickest way to build wealth and prosperity in a community is through job creation, something we’ve done very little of in St. Paul during the past decade. While redevelopment can certainly be an important tool for economic vitality, when we continue to focus on subsidizing buildings rather than people, the primary beneficiaries are those who plan, finance, and construct these new projects—often at the expense of everyone else.

If we truly want to become a city that works for everyone, we must have a bold vision that focuses on employment opportunities, a well-educated workforce, neighborhood stability, preserving our existing housing stock, and providing basic services that help promote the livability of our communities.

As your City Council Member, I will:

  • Lead the effort to build a community-owned broadband network, the only way we will effectively close the digital divide, ensure that all children have equal internet access inside and outside of the classroom, allow adult learners to engage in distance learning and other educational opportunities, and promote a more vibrant and diverse local economy that can serve as a hub for entrepreneurs, tech start-ups, and small businesses
  • Push to leverage city resources that maximize educational outcomes for children, including a citywide mentoring program and meaningful opportunities to gain “on-the-job” exposure to the business world and nonprofit community
  • Work to reform our zoning code so that neighborhoods are adequately protected against senseless teardowns and the growing boom in McMansions
  • Focus on sensible use of economic tools like TIF (tax-increment financing) or PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) so that we do not keep shifting tax burdens from the commercial sector to everyone else
  • Insist that the city plow alleys as well as residential streets during the winter, precisely the kind of service cities should provide and a benefit that should come with our increasing property tax load

Environmental Stewardship

Parks and green space might be the greatest resource that St. Paul has to offer its residents, but the past decade has seen far too many rec center closings, programming cuts, privatization of facilities, and focus on big ticket redevelopment projects that do little to meet the needs of our community.

As your City Council Member, I will:

  • Oppose any efforts to eliminate parkland or reduce the green space set aside requirements for commercial projects or new housing developments
  • Focus on creating more programming and recreational opportunities in our parks rather than treating them like revenue opportunities for the private sector
  • Work to restore our urban tree canopy so that diseased trees are replaced in a timely fashion rather than on the current four-year cycle which is simply unacceptable
  • Support progressive environmental measures such as banning plastic shopping bags in stores and protecting our lakes from chemical runoff and other pollutants
  • Launch a “Keep Saint Paul Beautiful” campaign that would push for anti-litter messages on public transit, add more waste receptacles in public spaces and shopping districts, collaborate with school districts and local businesses to promote anti-litter messages in the community, and hopefully restore neighborhood pride along the University Avenue corridor and adjoining blocks where so much trash accumulates on a daily basis

Transparency in Government

How is St. Paul doing as a city? Are we really the “most livable city in America?” Are we even close?

The truth is that we have very little idea because we don’t actually measure outcomes in St. Paul other than pointing to shiny new buildings or entertainment venues and claiming they demonstrate “Saint Paul is moving forward” or “Saint Paul is back.” Unfortunately, anecdotal feel-good stories put out by the mayor’s office are no substitute for actually measuring our progress from one year to the next.

Process improvement, audits, transparency, staff accountability, making sure every dollar is spent wisely—none of these things may sound particularly exciting, but focusing on them is essential to the future success of our city.

As your City Council Member, I will:

  • Use my business background to help transform City Hall into a customer-service-oriented institution that focuses on providing timely responses to residential complaints, solves problems rather than giving people the runaround, and offers ready access to information and data
  • Demand complete transparency of departmental budgets and contracts, including clear identification of all TIF districts within the city and easy-to-read data that will inform taxpayers of the exact level of subsidies we are granting to developers
  • Advocate for the hiring of an independent City Auditor who will regularly evaluate city programs and departments so that we can have an honest appraisal of how we are performing as a city from one year to the next
  • Seek to develop a citywide scorecard that measures how we are doing on several key indicators, including crime prevention, job creation, sustainability initiatives, and economic growth

Help Tom make a difference in Saint Paul! ❯