Elections 2022: Ramsey County Board of Commissioners, District 6

This is an open seat and a competitive race. On the ballot:

Ying Vang-Pao
Mai Chong Xiong

During the primary, I was pretty sure that these were the two candidates who would advance and said I’d take a closer look in the general. At the time, their priorities sounded pretty similar and while Mai Chong had more endorsements that impressed me, I thought Ying might be worth a second look.

So in the intervening months they have differentiated themselves a lot more significantly. Ying’s endorsements are a lot more conservative: she has Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher (who I do not like at all) and Dino Guerin. She also lists an endorsement from Alexander Bourne, which is sure a choice a person can make.

Mai Chong’s endorsements include the somewhat more centrist Jane Prince, but they also include Nelsie Yang, former mayor Chris Coleman (not to be confused with former mayor and overall slimeball Republican Norm Coleman — Chris is an actual Democrat, don’t get him mixed up with Norm!), current mayor Melvin Carter, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi, and the DSA.

I took a look at Ying’s Priorities section, which she’s expanded a lot since the summer. Her second item is “more resources for law enforcement” (and she’s entirely vague about what she means there — more officers? higher wages? more military-grade weaponry?) Then I got to this one:

Finish the Yellow and Purple light rail lines, connecting the East Side to the light rail system, which will provide for higher density development, leading to more jobs and business opportunities and make the East Side more attractive to residents, business, and visitors. 

…and thought, wait, there are more light rail lines in progress for St. Paul? and looked this up. Both of these proposed lines are BRT, Bus Rapid Transit (here’s the Metro Transit page on Purple Line plans), and it’s the Gold Line not the Yellow Line. These are weird details to get wrong on your website.

Mai Chong talks about BRT on her Vision and Values page (“Ensure that Bus Rapid Transit Lines are fully funded and stops are accessible for those that need them most; Invest in electric buses and cut down diesel pollution through our neighborhoods.”) Though she doesn’t call for “finishing” the Gold and Purple lines, possibly because they’re scheduled and thus in the category of “stuff that’s going to happen, we just need to focus on making sure they’re done properly.”

One of the other places that their differences are really clear is on housing. They both talk about affordable housing:

Ying says, “More affordable housing by making Ramsey County more attractive for private investment in housing, thus increasing housing supply and keeping rents down. Rent is too high, but the resulting homelessness is caused by an acute shortage of homes, so by providing conditions that make it easier to build more homes where people of all income levels want to live – such as making more real estate available for housing, reducing regulations, making it faster to obtain required permits, and providing transportation options for new developments, we can end homelessness.

Mai Chong says, “We need to decommodify housing. We need to build a system in which every single person in our community has dignified housing. As your County Commissioner, I will fight for all of us and ensure that we build deeply affordable housing at and below 30% AMI; fully fund and push for low-interest loan programs that rehabilitate & repair homes and businesses to remove lead, improve energy efficiency, and install solar panels; build a pipeline for people who are homeless to obtain long-term, sustainable, and dignified housing.”

I will note that I feel like both of these answers on housing are problematic because I’m very much in the both/and/all school on “should we be addressing the housing shortage with public housing or with private development.” We need both, as much as possible, as quickly as possible. (It’s interesting that neither talks about the rent control ordinance, although Mai Chong talks about tenant’s rights further down in her housing section, and Ying does not.)

Anyway — at this point, this is a fairly straightforward decision for me. While there are things about Ying’s approach that I appreciate, I don’t like her “more resources for police” stance and I actively dislike some of her endorsements. I would absolutely vote for Mai Chong Xiong if I lived in District 6.

In addition to writing political commentary, I write science fiction and fantasy. My book that came out in April 2021, Chaos on CatNet, takes place in a future Minneapolis. It’s a sequel to Catfishing on CatNet and signed copies of both books are usually available from Dreamhaven and the NOW REOPENED Uncle Hugo’s (it’s at 2716 E 31st St in Minneapolis, in the former Glass Endeavors.)

I do not have a Patreon or Ko-Fi, but you can make a donation to encourage my work! I get a lot of satisfaction watching fundraisers I highlight getting funded (or, in the case of the Movement Voter fundraiser, continuing to raise money past their goal). I explained back in May why I’m fundraising for the Movement Voter PAC and that fundraiser is still active.

I also went looking for a DonorsChoose fundraiser for a classroom in St. Paul and found an English teacher at Harding Senior High who would like snacks for her students. In her project intro, she notes, “With a new schedule this year, some students have to wait a very long time to eat lunch everyday. When students are hungry, they cannot focus and most students can’t afford to buy their own snacks.” This made me curious about their schedule. Some students at Harding don’t get to eat lunch until 1 p.m. School starts at 8:30. When I eat breakfast at 7:30 I’m ravenous by noon, never mind 1 p.m. Feeding kids is an absolute no-brainer, seriously.


1 thought on “Elections 2022: Ramsey County Board of Commissioners, District 6

  1. I met both candidates at a meet’n’greet at the co-op where I live, and there was a LOT of discussion about the Purple Line which will have a stop by us. As usual, I’ve learned more reading your synopsis than I did from either candidate. Thanks so much for the effort you put into this.

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