A St. Paul cafe owner who recently settled his breach-of-contract case against the city for $800,000 says he’s running against the City Council member he blames for starting the whole legal mess.
David Glass, who with his wife, Pamela, runs Black Bear Crossings at the city-owned Como Lakeside Pavilion, plans to announce his candidacy at the cafe Wednesday evening.
He’s challenging first-term Fifth Ward incumbent Amy Brendmoen, he said, not just because of what happened to his business but because the local community development corporation, Sparc, closed on her watch.
He’s also unhappy with how the parks department is developing the downtown ballpark and has managed city golf courses.
“I’ve got a bit of a toolbox I can bring to the city — good common-sense values and business sense that’s thoroughly lacking at the City Council,” he said. “As my mother-in-law says, common sense isn’t that common.”
Election Day isn’t until November 2015, but Glass said he’s jumping into the race now to lay the groundwork for his campaign. He plans to seek the DFL Party endorsement.
A former candidate for Ramsey County commissioner and state DFL Party chair, Glass says he’s a community activist and not a politician.
“I think I have some good folks supporting me, but I don’t want to get caught short,” he said.
Said Brendmoen, in a statement: “I’ve been aware of Mr. Glass’ political aspirations for some time, so while it’s a bit early, I’m not surprised to hear this. I’m proud of my record of hard work, bold leadership and excellent constituent service, and I welcome this challenge.”
Glass, 63, and his wife opened Black Bear as a coffee shop in 1997 and three years later moved the business to the Como Pavilion, where they leased space from the city and ran the banquet operation.
Last year they decided to renew their contract for another five years, but were turned down by city officials who said they had failed to meet sales expectations and hadn’t agreed to future revenue benchmarks.
Glass has said that the first sign something was wrong came when Brendmoen visited and “told us … they weren’t sure if we were meeting the public purpose and the parks director said they wanted to do a review.”
The Glasses sued the city for breach of contract.
A judge ruled in July that they were eligible for damages, leading to the settlement reached three weeks ago. But they will close Black Bear on Dec. 31.
Glass, who is Ojibwe, lives in the Como neighborhood. He spent much of his youth on the White Earth reservation in northern Minnesota and graduated from Johnson High School on the East Side.
He lost a Ramsey County Board primary race to Sue Haigh and Susan Kimberly in 1994, and finished second to Mark Andrew in the 1996 DFL Party chair vote.
Brendmoen, 44, who also lives in the Como neighborhood, defeated incumbent Lee Helgen by a scant 36 votes in 2011.
She had been marketing director for the Children’s Home Society and Family Services, and a longtime consumer advocate in the state attorney general’s office. She chairs the city’s Housing and Redevelopment Authority.