Re-elect Vue and Foster to board

As a parent of three boys in the Saint Paul Public Schools and a committed public education advocate, I was happy to see MyVillager highlight the eight candidates running for School Board in the September 29 issue with a focus on how they would stem declining enrollment in the district. The candidates also addressed whether they support a moratorium on charter schools, which is a position pushed by the Saint Paul Federation of Educators and a criteria of SPFE endorsement of School Board candidates. Lost in the discussion was the fact that the School Board has no jurisdiction over charter schools and no power to impose a moratorium on their creation or expansion.

The charter moratorium issue is therefore a huge distraction from the internal structural reforms the school district needs to place the needs and priorities of students and families first. Families will send their children to district schools when they are listened to and respected as equal partners in their children’s education and when they are assured that their kids will receive the first-class education they deserve.

Candidates Jim Vue and Jeanelle Foster understand that denying Saint Paul families agency to choose the best school for their children is not the path to strengthening district schools. And both Vue and Foster have the experience to support district administration and staff and hold them accountable on behalf of students and families when their policies are failing our kids. They have my vote, and I urge you to vote for them, too. 

Pamela Marentette

A parent’s voice on School Board

I feel so fortunate to work in early childhood special education. It allows me to work not only with young children, but directly with caregivers and families via visits to homes and child care centers. Together we develop strategies to help young children learn to walk, talk and interact with their world.

In early childhood special education, you often hear, “parents are their child’s first teacher.” To parents we say, “you know your child best.” However, as children enter elementary, middle and high school, the system focuses more on the student and the family fades into the background. It doesn’t have to be so. Strong school systems keep parents and caregivers at the center, knowing that authentic family-school partnerships are the key to success.

I support Jim Vue for School Board. As a parent of children in the Saint Paul Public Schools, he understands that the voices of parents are often drowned out by those already at the table. Parents deserve to be front and center.

Martha Berit Higuera

Editor’s note: The writer is the parent of two children in the Saint Paul Public Schools.

Prioritize people over profit

Every Minnesotan deserves to have a safe place to call home, a chance to belong to a community and a stable place for their children to grow and attend school. No matter our appearance, zip code or wealth, we all deserve the opportunity to thrive.

Right now, lobbyists for large corporate landlords are trying to divide homeowners, renters and mom-and-pop landlords in Saint Paul. For too long, these greedy large corporate landlords have been able to inflict unexpected rent increases on my friends and neighbors, jeopardizing their ability to remain in a home they love. Of course, they want to maintain the status quo and have no restrictions; it’s working for them. I want to live in a Saint Paul that prioritizes people over excessive profit. 

Saint Paul is a majority renter city, and with the prices of purchasing homes continuing to rise, demand for rental units will surely increase. The landlords I talk to raise rent annually by less than 3 percent. This allows them to make a reasonable living. Voting “yes” on rent stabilization will protect tenants from huge unexpected rent increases that would drive them from their homes.

Ginny DeLuca 
Merriam Park

Vote ‘yes’ for housing stability

Every Saint Paulite deserves housing stability. It creates a strong foundation for families to thrive. It’s critical to both stable employment and student achievement. Yet under the current system, renters’ ability to stay in their home is subject to speculation and price gouging by predatory landlords. When families are displaced, it disrupts our community, including people getting to work and to school. Immigrants and people of color are experiencing this displacement disproportionately.

Like the majority of Saint Paulites, I am a long-time renter. I am voting “yes” for the rent stabilization ballot initiative.

Sarah Mullins

Vote ‘no’ on rent stabilization

The rent stabilization ordinance being considered by Saint Paul in the November 2 general election is not a solution to the city’s housing affordability crisis. Decades’ of economic research have demonstrated this. If there is one thing economists agree on it is that rent control is counterproductive.

First, it leads to a decreased supply of new apartment units. It decreases investor yields, and consequently investors put their money elsewhere. In this way, it worsens the housing shortage and leads to higher rents in surrounding communities. People who have rent-controlled units also benefit to the detriment of others, who must look elsewhere for housing. As demand in surrounding communities increases due to this displacement, rents increase commensurately.

Second, rent control leads to a deteriorating stock of existing apartments. As their investment returns are capped, landlords are no longer willing to make necessary repairs and improvements to their properties. In this way, buildings fall into disrepair.

These two phenomena have been demonstrated again and again in every city that has tried rent control. A much better approach is direct aid to low-income renters.

Paul Stearns
Highland Park

Elect Hosko mayor

Now is the time to elect 100 percent independent, 100 percent nonpartisan Bill Hosko mayor of Saint Paul. Bill Hosko is down-to-earth, sensible and upstanding. He will not be a self-serving, devilish, dictating bureaucrat and plans to donate part of his salary as mayor to charity.

Bill has been door-knocking throughout Saint Paul since February 25. He is a small-business owner and an architectural artist. Bill is competent to manage a budget. I am confident he will manage Saint Paul’s budget creatively, with a goal to decrease homestead and non-homestead (rental) property taxes and assessment fees.

Some of Bill’s goals include redirecting the city on an uphill path to improved prosperity, making sure that basic services are competently funded, reducing or eliminating wasteful and unnecessary city spending, partnering with residents and business owners regarding their concerns, helping businesses large and small to remain in Saint Paul and promoting other business to operate in our city, bringing jobs and economic growth.

When Bill Hosko is elected Saint Paul’s new mayor, livability will improve and we can celebrate with fireworks, especially on the Fourth of July.

Sue Shetka

A brighter view of rent control

Apparently, some landlords think that MyVillager readers aren’t very bright. In an article on the November 2 ballot measure that would limit rent increases in Saint Paul (MyVillager, October 13), several landlords said approval of the ballot measure could force them to sell to large corporations “who may be less inclined to keep their units affordable.” Not true: Rent increases would still be limited whether the properties are owned by individuals or corporations.

Vote “yes” on November 2 to limit rent increases.

Patrick Hirigoyen
Highland Park

Vote for Vue and Foster

I support Jim Vue and Jeannie Foster for the Saint Paul School Board. Jeannie is the current chair of the board and Jim is vice chair. Jim is running for another four-year term, and Jeannie is running for the two-year term. Both are leaders in advancing ethnic studies, creating safer upgraded school environments, reimagining an equitable and sustainable use of buildings and programs through Envision SPPS, and managing the enormous task of maintaining academic and supportive services to students and families during the COVID crisis. They also represent and are deeply connected to traditionally underrepresented racial communities whose success is critical to the future of Saint Paul.

These unprecedented times of challenge and change for our schools require proven decision-makers who have been at the table, understand the complexities, and can provide the strong, collaborative leadership necessary to turn difficult solutions into successful outcomes for all our kids. Please vote for Jeannie Foster and Jim Vue. Experience matters!

Jon Schumacher
Saint Anthony Park

Editor’s note: The writer is a former member of the Saint Paul School Board.

Re-elect Vue to School Board

This is a strong recommendation to re-elect Jim Vue to the Saint Paul School Board from two retired Saint Paul Public School educators who have five grandchildren in the Saint Paul Public Schools and whose three children attended district schools and graduated from Highland Park High School.

Jim Vue is the father of four district students, two of whom have special needs. Before being appointed and then elected to the School Board, Jim served on districtwide committees. He is a U.S. Army veteran who served in Iraq and Kuwait. As the only Asian American on the board in a district with an enrollment that is more than 30 percent Asian American, he has pushed the district to hold citywide Zoom meetings in several languages. He was one of the first to propose that the district more fully explore solar and other sustainable energy. He was one of the first to urge the district to require faculty to be vaccinated or have a medical exemption, positions supported by the Saint Paul Federation of Educators.

Jim Vue understands that his first responsibility is to represent students, families and the broader community, not to be a spokesperson for the school district. He is the kind of School Board member Saint Paul needs. Please vote for him on November 2.

JoAnn and Joe Nathan
Highland Park

Vote ‘yes’ for rent stabilization

Housing is a fundamental human right. All people regardless of background deserve a safe place to lay their heads at night. Unfortunately, for many Saint Paulites this right is threatened when rent is substantially raised. Members of BIPOC and immigrant families are disproportionately affected by this. This is why we need to vote “yes” on rent stabilization in the November 2 general election. I love and care about my neighbors, and I want them to feel welcome and safe in Saint Paul.

Tracy Roscoe
West End

Vote for Larsen in District 197

I offer my enthusiastic support for Sarah Larsen for the District 197 School Board. As the parent of children at Friendly Hills Middle School and Two Rivers High School, Sarah Larsen has been a 10-plus-year volunteer and leader of student-focused groups in District 197. She cares deeply about all students, and when she sees a need, she finds a way to meet it. For example, Sarah partnered with school counselors and staff to create an anonymous holiday gift drive at Friendly Hills. She has led this program to provide needed new clothing and personal items to students for the last four years.

I met Sarah when we volunteered at Mendota Elementary, and I’ve watched her succeed in every leadership role and volunteer task she’s taken on. Sarah consistently shows attention to detail, strong organizational skills, excellent listening and good humor. Sarah asks great questions and is willing to adjust her thinking when she learns new information. She has attended countless School Board and committee meetings over the years because she cares.

Sarah will be a School Board member who will listen to families and students. As a working mom with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and a master’s degree in public health, Sarah has deep knowledge that is particularly valuable at this time. She is the new School Board member we need right now. I urge district residents to vote for Sarah Larsen on November 2.

Pam Stein
Mendota Heights

Dissecting District 197 candidates

After the last two District 197 School Board elections with the incumbents running unopposed, there are 10 candidates on the ballot ths year and they are basically in two camps.

Candidates Chandler, Hill, Steele, Larsen and Vaupel are all involved directly in education or government. They represent more of the same, and there has not been much inclusion of the general public in any District 197 matters.

Candidates Reese, Auran and Grondahl represent parents, taxpayers and the general public. They would represent a group of voters who should have some say in District 197 matters but are not being heard by the present School Board. It would be nice if the District 197 School Board would encompass a variety of views.

As for the District 197 levy renewal, if the School Board can find money in the budget to change the name of the high school, they certainly do not need the levy renewal. Vote “no.”

Dennis G. Hoye
Mendota Heights

Vote for hard-working Hosko

I urge Saint Paul voters to get out their “brooms” on election day and make a clean sweep. I will be casting my vote for Bill Hosko for mayor.

For months, Mr. Hosko has been door-knocking throughout the city and hand-delivering his campaign literature with specifics on what he will do to improve all that needs to be done in Saint Paul. If Mr. Hosko is working that hard to meet the people he hopes will elect him mayor, I think he would be a terrific choice.

When you do what you’ve always done, you get what you’ve always had. Let’s start over with competent people willing to work hard for Saint Paul’s hard-working citizens. Please join me in voting for Bill Hosko as our next mayor.

Kathleen Deming

Saint Paul wrong

Members of Saint Paul STRONG lament the “lack of electoral competition” in this year’s race for mayor (MyVillager Viewpoint, September 15). Instead of blaming the local Republican Party for failing to appeal to Saint Paul voters, they blame the local DFL for being too popular and its endorsement process for being too friendly to incumbents. Yet, just across the river, in even more heavily DFL Minneapolis, the incumbent DFL mayor failed to win endorsement and faces two very credible challengers.

Mayor Carter is running strong, not because Saint Paul is a one-party town, but because he has a fantastic record. He brought business and labor together to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. At Highland Bridge, we are building more of the housing our growing and diverse city needs. Even before the murder of George Floyd, Mayor Carter reformed the Saint Paul police’s use-of-force standards.

If Saint Paul STRONG had a decent candidate or a compelling vision, they could have been competitive. If they want electoral competition, they should try bold ideas instead of weak excuses.

Rick Varco
Highland Park

Editor’s note: The writer is treasurer of the Saint Paul DFL.

Join me in voting for Vue

As a retired Saint Paul Public Schools educator, I strongly urge reelecting Jim Vue to the Saint Paul School Board. Jim and his wife Sai have four youngsters in the Saint Paul Public Schools, some of whom are students with special needs. Before being appointed and then elected to the board, Jim served on two districtwide committees, one representing Asian Americans and one representing families with students having special needs.
Jim has demonstrated independence and leadership on the board. For example, he successfully challenged the administration when it proposed early this year an increase in salary and fringe benefits to senior administrators already making $140,000-190,000 per year. Jim helped convince the board that more should be spent on direct services to students. He also helped lead the effort to require masks for students and vaccinations for faculty and staff.  

Jim is a veteran who served in the Middle East. He brings important life experience to the board. Please join me in voting for Jim Vue.

Tina Fahnestock
Highland Park

Another vote for Vue

I am a proud parent of four current and former Saint Paul Public Schools students and a spouse to a teacher in the school district. I am supporting Jim Vue for School Board this November. I appreciate his support for small schools that promote relationship- and community- building as well as academics.

Recently, the Saint Paul School Board made it a priority to address systemic racism, adopting ethnic studies and implementing an approach that better reflects the global majority. Now more than ever, it is vital that the School Board continue to mirror the diversity of Saint Paul. A School Board that reflects the Saint Paul community is essential to the well-being of us all.

In this ever-changing time, it is imperative that School Board members have relative experience. Jim Vue understands from a parent’s perspective the hardships of the pandemic on education and what it means to be learning online. I appreciate the innovation of Vue and other School Board members who supported the creation of the first districtwide online school in response to the pandemic. It is also important that candidates, like Vue, have a working knowledge of the varied foci of the district’s special education department. Students with Individualized Education Plans and their parents should be understood and their needs met.

Julia Hobday
Dayton’s Bluff

Vote on November 2

I urge Saint Paul voters to get back to basics by getting involved and voting on November 2, not only in the mayoral and School Board races, but also for housing stability, providing a sensible 3 percent cap in annual rent increases.

Joan Haan
Merriam Park


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