Campaign season has begun in St. Paul, where the entire City Council is up for re-election in 2019 and Council Member Dan Bostrom’s retirement has opened his East Side seat for the first time in more than 20 years.
Three candidates had already launched bids for the Sixth Ward seat before Bostrom’s surprise announcement: community organizer Nelsie Yang, former Planning Commissioner Terri Thao and Alexander Bourne, a former small business owner who is running for office full-time.
Council President Amy Brendmoen, Council Vice President Rebecca Noecker and Council Members Jane Prince, Dai Thao, Chris Tolbert and Mitra Jalali Nelson are all running for re-election.
At the council’s meeting last week, Bostrom announced his plan to retire by the end of this month. He has represented the Sixth Ward since 1996.
“I really appreciate the work that Mr. Bostrom put into that area,” said Brendmoen, who represents the Fifth Ward. “And I’m also looking forward to new energy and a new perspective as well.”
The city is seeking applicants to fill Bostrom’s seat for what would have been the final year of his term, beginning Jan. 23. The interim council member will earn an annual salary of $64,584 plus benefits and must agree not to run for the vacant seat in the upcoming election.
Candidates are emerging in other races — North End resident Lynn Connolly is challenging Brendmoen, and Liz De La Torre, a Ramsey County sexual assault advocate and former staffer to U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, is running against Thao.
Council members serve four-year terms. The new council will take office in January 2020.
The incumbents running for re-election said they want to continue work in their wards — recreation center improvements, transit projects, development at the former Ford site and around Allianz Field — and continue to collaborate with Mayor Melvin Carter on citywide initiatives, such as building and preserving affordable housing.
“We got a lot of stuff done, and there’s a lot we’d like to see finished,” said Thao, who launched his re-election campaign Dec. 13.
Nelson, who took office in September, said she’s just getting started on what she pledged to do during her campaign. Nelson won a special election in August after Council Member Russ Stark left for a job in Carter’s office, and now, four months later, is preparing to run again.
“The point of us running for the first time was to share this vision about the future of our community,” Nelson said. “The next year only confirms all of the things that motivated me to run in the first place.”