Election 2013, Volume 2, Issue 2: The State Fair
Anyway, I spotted the Independence Party booth and it occurred to me that they might be able to tell me whether they had endorsed Rahm Workcuff (I doubted it, but you never know). Rahm Workcuff is NOT endorsed by the Jessecrats. They provided three suggested options (since you get three picks) -- (1) Stephanie Woodruff, (2) Don Samuels, and (3) Cam Winton. (Stephanie and Don are DFLers. Cam Winton is an "Independent" -- which caused some weird confusion when I asked about endorsed candidates, because the guy thought I was asking about Cam and that I did not grasp that "Independent" and "Independence" are not the same. Oh, well.)
I dropped by the DFL booth and watched Scott Dibble and ... um, someone from the House answer questions about marriage equality while Kiera and I ate our Mochas on Sticks. (Sold at the Farmer's Union building next door, and highly recommended to all, regardless of political affiliation. They're like coffee fudgesicles.)
Finally, the guy running against Chris Coleman in St. Paul, Tim Holden, had a little booth that was quite close to the 4-H building. I'm going to get around to writing about the St. Paul races eventually, so I figured, why not stop and meet the candidate? He was actually there, conveniently enough. He is one of those political candidates who is a little overly committed to the firm handshake and unwavering eye contact approach to building trust.
I asked him what his main issues were and his first was living-wage jobs (it's funny, I heard that and immediately thought, "Oh! NOT a Republican, then." You'd think Republicans would be fans of living-wage jobs -- I mean, who isn't? But there are certain buzzwords that signal party allegiance, and 'living-wage jobs' is totally Democratic.) His second was property taxes (he asked where I live, and then told me that my property taxes are high). Then he said "fundamentally, it's all about the children" and started talking about education. I told Ed later that I think this was a failed attempt to pander to me: I was obviously a mother, walking around the Fair with two kids, so OF COURSE I care about education. And I do -- I just also know that the mayor has very little to do with it. I pointed that out and he said that he'd sit down with the school board and insist that they do a better job.
He then brought up the new ballpark (yes, St. Paul is also getting a new ballpark -- for the Saints. I'd paid even less attention to this fight than I did to the Vikings stadium). He may have a point on this, although after having both a Twins ballpark and a Vikings stadium built in the last few years in Minneapolis, an itty-bitty minor-league ballpark barely even registers.
He also offered candy to my kids (I told them to go ahead and take it) and when Molly asked him what he thought of charter schools, he said he thought charter schools were great, and talked about visiting the Hmong Academy and what a great school it was. I appreciated the fact that he answered my kid's question and didn't blow her off or direct his answer to me.
Anyway, I thanked him for his time and started to nudge my kids back in the direction of the 4-H building, where we were headed. I'd made it all of about three steps when I got pounced on by a man with a notebook. He introduced himself as Joe Kimball, formerly employed by the Star Tribune, now a reporter for Minnpost (and seemed gratified that I knew what Minnpost was.) He was writing an article about Holden and had been lying in wait for actual St. Paul residents who had stopped to talk to the guy. (I got the impression that he wasn't getting a lot of traffic, particularly of actual St. Paul residents.)
I told Kimball that I blogged about local politics (Molly helpfully added, "she does endorsements!" which may in fact have made him think I'm a complete nut) and that I'd mostly been ignoring the St. Paul race because the Minneapolis race was so much more amusing, which resulted in several minutes of totally useless (to him) chit-chat about all the weird candidates. (He was fun to talk to. It was sort of like being at a con and running into someone with a particularly obscure shared fandom, only the fandom in this case was local politics.) Regarding the St. Paul mayoral race, I told him that I'd only moved to St. Paul a year ago, but that my overall impression of Chris Coleman was favorable. I said that my biggest issue in any mayoral race was not wasting money on stupid stuff, which may have made me sound like a Republican (that's almost as sad as the "living wage jobs" thing. Actually, no, you know what? that's sadder than the "living wage jobs" thing, although the Republicans have relinquished a bunch of other words and phrases that make up for it a bit better.) I mentioned Block E as an example of stupid stuff. (I suppose if I had really wanted to sound like a Republican I would have used the word "boondoggles" instead of "stupid stuff." Maybe I should start talking about boondoggles; it's a cool word.)
He asked if anything Holden had said had particularly resonated with me and I can't remember what I said (maybe I mentioned the ballpark) and I complained about Holden's focus on education issues and said he ought to run for the school board, if that was where he wanted to put his energy, since it's the school board that actually runs the schools, not the mayor's office. (A bunch of Minneapolis mayoral candidates are saying the same thing, and ditto. Cam Winton at least admits the mayor can't do much other than posture about it, but goes on to talk about all the posturing he'll do.)
It occurred to me later that he may have been waiting to see if I'd mention the property tax thing. Minneapolis and St. Paul have much higher property taxes than the surrounding suburbs. And -- you know, we really do. Ed and I could have bought a house the same size as the house we bought, in Mendota Heights, and paid approximately half what we're paying here in property taxes. But we'd have had to live in Mendota Heights. I think Ed was willing to, and we looked at a few houses, but when it came right down to it, I am a city person. And we pay a lot in property taxes because we brought a large house in a neighborhood full of large houses.
Property taxes are regressive, and they're hard on the elderly, and high property taxes are insult to injury for anyone upside-down on their mortgage. (Which is a lot fewer people in the Cities than was true a year ago; housing prices here are recovering really well.) But the bottom line is that the Cities have to bear a lot of expenses for the entire state. This is supposed to be compensated for with local government aid (LGA) but when LGA gets slashed to balance the state budget, the residents are going to have to pick up the necessary costs.
And that, I think, is why I am so offended by the truly stupid projects that wind up on the municipal to-do list. When it comes right down to it, I would much rather pay higher property taxes than go without any of the following: adequate snow removal, good libraries, prompt patching of potholes, policing, a fire department that shows up quickly, good schools (the schools are funded mostly through state taxes, but there's a property tax levy as well to add funding to the district in both St. Paul and Minneapolis), an excellent park system, the municipal swimming pools, pavement striping, sidewalks with curb cuts, etc. I want city workers to be paid a living wage, and I want them to have adequate equipment to do their jobs. There are a thousand little things that the city does that makes living here better, like studies on traffic flow that prompt them to tweak the timing of lights, building new bike lanes, putting in a replacement municipal pool at Como Park when the old one essentially wore out. I am willing to pay for this stuff. I don't want them to lower my taxes by cutting it. I want them to figure out what it costs to fund those things, and tell me my share and I will fucking pay it, and not whine about how taxes are higher here than in Eagan.
But don't then turn around and spend it on Block E (or, worse, spend it on Block E and cut library funding and park funding and so on.)
Joe Kimball noted that Tim Holden was the only local candidate who'd bothered to get his own booth. None of the Minneapolis candidates have, though Mark Andrew has an actual business at the Fair. He also mentioned that there are only two other candidates (plus Chris), one of whom is Sharon Anderson. St. Paul also has ranked choice voting, but Chris Coleman is fairly well entrenched. I bet St. Paul also charges more than $20 to get on the ballot, but I could be wrong.
Election of 2013 Index of Posts