Well, let's just admit it: nobody knows why the Saint Paul City Council matters at all. Really, what do they do? Apart from personal charisma, or message themes, should I care that one person got elected rather than another? Do they have any real power?
Well, when it comes to sidewalks and land use, the composure of the city council matters a lot! In this city, land use and development issues are probably the City Council's #1 job, because (unlike Minneapolis) the mayor has most of the power in the city to set and carry out the budget. So, when it comes to issues like zoning ordinances, transit oriented density, affordable housing, walkability, and development subsidies, the city council matters a lot.
That's why yesterday's election results are great news. Not only did voters get rid of one of the most pro-Chamber of Commerce (read: corporate) development members in Debbie Montgomery (she never saw a big box store she didn't like), but they added former University United employee Russ Stark to the mix. Voters rejected (either through apathy or opposition) the message sent out by the tens of thousands of dollars that megalomaniacal developer Jerry Trooien spent on this election, which will hopefully mean he'll take his dog and pony show to some other town where civic life isn't quite so well defended. Anyway, I'm quite excited by the possibility that Saint Paul will adopt some common sense ordinances about walkability, transparency (and here I'm talking about walls), and encouraging non-auto transportation during the next few years, particularly along the future University Avenue LRT corridor. I guess we'll have to wait and see.