West St. Paul’s Ward 3 City Council Primary

All politics is local. Thanks and welcome to contributing writer Kevin D. Hendricks, who shares important information on:

West St. Paul’s Ward 3 City Council Primary

By Kevin D. Hendricks

While there are important statewide primary races on the ballot next week, CD2 has a local primary race that’s heating up. West St. Paul’s ward 3 city council race has four candidates running, including two women who have spoken out against the recent sexism in West St. Paul.

Lisa Eng-Sarne is a former staffer for the late Sen. Jim Metzen and works in project management. She’s also been a longtime member of the Minnesota RollerGirls.

Wendy Berry is an HR professional and has the endorsement of West St. Paul Mayor Jenny Halverson and Rep. Rick Hansen.

Both women spoke at the May 14, 2018 city council meeting when more than 150 people showed up and citizen comments went on for nearly two hours. Berry announced her candidacy that night, and Eng-Sarne joined the race a couple weeks later.

Both candidates also showed up at Harmon Park on Sunday for the inaugural DFL SD52 ward 3 potluck, along with Rep. Rick Hansen and representatives from the Erin Murphy, Tina Smith, Matt Pelikan, and Angie Craig campaigns.

The Competition

The other two candidates are former Mayor David Meisinger and former Planning Commissioner John Ramsay. The differences between the male and female candidates couldn’t be more stark:

  • History: Meisinger has a long history in West St. Paul politics, including two terms as mayor and two on city council. This is Ramsay’s third attempt at city council after two failed runs in 2014 and 2016. Berry and Eng-Sarne have not run for public office before and bring fresh energy to a council plagued by dysfunction.
  • Sexism: While Berry and Eng-Sarne spoke out against sexism, both Meisinger and Ramsay question whether it happened at all. There are also concerning stories about David Meisinger’s behavior, including incidents of bullying and intimidating women.
  • Transparency: Despite Ramsay’s previous calls for transparency in government, both Ramsay and Meisinger have been quiet on the campaign trail. Meisinger removed his Facebook page in July and, as of this writing, Ramsay’s page has only two posts. Both Berry and Eng-Sarne said they would attend a community-organized candidate forum, but Meisinger and Ramsay didn’t show (due to a death in the family, Berry ultimately did not attend but did have a statement read in her absence).
  • Tunnels & Trails: When asked about the River-to-River Greenway Trail that Dakota County is working to complete through West St. Paul, both Berry and Eng-Sarne were supportive. Meisinger and Ramsay refused to answer the question.

While Ramsay and Meisinger have been quiet, their campaigns have not been idle. Signs for both candidates went up in July and they’ve been doing lit drops. They’re relying on name recognition to get them through the primary, as opposed to actually engaging voters on the issues.

August 14 Primary

City council is a non-partisan position in West St. Paul, so all four candidates square off in the primary on August 14. The top two will go on to the general election in November.

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