Q&A with Amy Brendmoen, St. Paul council newcomer

  • Article by: ROCHELLE OLSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 29, 2011 - 7:39 AM

Brendmoen, who will be one of two new faces on the City Council, won by 36 votes.

Amy Brendmoen

St. Paul Council Member-elect Amy Brendmoen will represent the North End, Como Park area and near East Side as one of two newcomers to the seven-member council. As a self-proclaimed "practical Democrat," she won't change the general leanings of the council, but as an insurgent who defeated incumbent Lee Helgen, she's shown she can overcome a challenge.

The other new council member is DFLer Chris Tolbert. He replaces Highland Park Council Member Pat Harris, who didn't seek re-election. Tolbert, an assistant Hennepin County attorney, comes from a politically active family. Brendmoen, 42, grew up mostly in Stillwater, but also lived for awhile in the Cedar Square West complex in Minneapolis and in Little Falls. She is much more of a newcomer on the political scene.

Brendmoen has been communications director for the Children's Home Society. She will continue to work two days a week in that position. She is married to Jeff Neske, who also works at the society. They have three sons: Sawyer, 11, Haakon, 8, and Lars, 6.

The new council member will be sworn in Jan. 4. She answered questions last week:

Q Where did you meet your husband?

A While we both were working at Billy's on Grand in 1997.

Q Did anyone respond to your campaign offer to walk around Como Lake and discuss issues?

A Yes, more than 30 people. It takes about 40 minutes to walk around Como. It's a good way to exchange ideas.

Q Does the offer still stand?

A Absolutely and will remain. They set the pace. (Nothing below a 10-minute mile.)

Q What's your education?

A B.A. in political science from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Q Did you plan to run for office back then?

A No, but political science classes were the ones that fascinated and inspired me. I've always been excited about how policies are made, how problems are solved.

Q Why run now?

A I initially heard Lee [Helgen] wasn't going to run and was gently nudged to run. When he announced he was running, I still wanted to do it.

Q How many votes separated you from Helgen?

A 36.

Q Do you have political heroes?

A I've always been inspired by outspoken female leaders like [the late former Gov.] Ann Richards in Texas. She was sassy and classy.

Q What are you reading?

A "Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln," by historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, and "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" by Stieg Larsson.

Q Where do you start your City Council work?

A I'm in listening and learning mode. I'm humble enough to recognize there's a whole lot I don't know.

Q What will the inaugural ball on Jan. 6 at the Crowne Plaza Riverfront Hotel be like?

A We're going to make it fun. I'm a believer in making your own fun.

Rochelle Olson • 651-925-5035

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