Do you live in Saint Paul Ward 4? Then on August 14th, in addition to having a bunch of primaries, you also have an actual real election. That’s right, your City Council race is not a primary. (We have Instant Runoff Voting in St. Paul city races, so primaries in those are not a thing.)
On your ballot, and you can rank them in order of preference:
Mitra Jalali Nelson
This is actually a fairly straightforward choice.
If you look at new multifamily housing with loathing because where are you ever going to park, if you were horrified by the Ford plan because why are they trying to turn St. Paul into New York, if you consider it vitally important that Council reps live in the city basically forever before running, these are all good signs that you will be happiest with Shirley Erstad.
If you consider yourself a YIMBY, if you want to see more transit-oriented development, if you look at new multifamily housing with delight because you want people to continue to be able to afford to live in St. Paul and that means enough apartments to put everyone in, if you’d put a “Neighbors for More Neighbors” sign in your yard, if you’re excited by the idea of a renter on the City Council, you should definitely vote for Mitra Jalali Nelson.
Mitra Jalali Nelson is also more vocal about police accountability. She wants law enforcement in St. Paul to avoid cooperation with ICE as much as possible, and she’d like trained mental health workers to accompany police on mental health calls. She wants to implement curbside composting and the Saint Paul Bike Plan.
Shirley Erstad talks about “speaking truth to power” on her website, by which she means yelling at the City Council about not building some ball fields that were promised.
There was a forum tonight that was live-tweeted by John Edwards of WedgeLIVE, which you can read here:
I would definitely rate Mitra Jalali Nelson as my #1: I like her policies and I like her. I think she’d bring a really interesting perspective to the St. Paul City Council and I bet she’d have a good response to my frustrated complaints about transit.
I would also definitely rate Shirley Erstad as my #2. I am not nearly as fond of her, but there’s a third candidate in the race.
David Martinez is candidate #3. I didn’t link to his website because it got taken down after he apparently posted revenge porn of his estranged wife, along with the restraining order that she’d filed against him, which said that he’d assaulted her and choked her. This came a few days after he was banned from the St. Paul public libraries and from the Twins ballpark. He claims that his campaign website was hacked, and that the library and ballpark incidents were both examples of him nobly standing up for people of color who were being bullied by security. (The library incident featured him screaming profanity at librarians, FYI.)
There is no scenario in which he should be on the city council. I would suggest Mitra Jalali Nelson as your first vote, Shirley Erstad as your second vote, and leave your third vote blank (or, if it bothers you to see that empty space, write in your favorite neighbor for your #3.) Do not list David Martinez anywhere on your ballot.
I’d strongly recommend that you go take a look at your actual ballot before you go in; the combination of partisan primary, non-partisan primary, and non-primary special-election IRV ranking is a little bit confusing, and if you find yourself puzzled by it, don’t hesitate to ask for an explanation from the polling place workers.
And don’t forget to show up, this is on AUGUST 14TH AND IT IS THE REAL ELECTION, NOT THE PRIMARY. (Or you can vote early.)
Naomi, as always, I appreciate your research and insight.