Jeff Zeitler for St. Paul City Council
Truly Independent leadership for St. Paul
Why this guy?
I've lived in St. Paul for 20 years now, with my wife Gita and our two children who attend St. Paul public schools. I love this city and want it continue to be the quirky and welcoming town that it was when I moved here as a young adult.
In the last 20 years, I've served on the Union Park District Council and initiated the creation of Merriam Station Community Garden. I've sat on the board of a food co-op, and have started a small business. I know what it takes to get things done. I'm a busy guy, and fixing what's broken in St. Paul is on my list of things to do.
Safety: St. Paul's crime rate is rising and it seems that the current council is unwilling to address it. We say we're the most livable city, but when elderly people are unable to walk to the light rail stop and kids aren't able to walk to school for fear of violence, we're failing in that goal. We need to support the police, while still holding bad police officers accountable. Most cops are good people and need to know that the city council has their back. Full funding of the department is a must. Body cameras in use at all times is a must as well, so in the event of an incident, we, the people of St. Paul, can know exactly what happened.
Streets: Last winter, the residential street we live on was impassible. We called it 'the glacier' because it was several inches of glare ice with two ruts down the middle. I had to drive my wife to work in mid-winter many times, as her car, a small hybrid, often couldn't make it off of our street. When the glacier thawed, the streets were full of potholes that went unfilled for what felt like months. At that point, the potholes wrecked the suspension on our other car- a minivan. We need to shift funding to Public Works and make sure they have adequate workers and trucks to get the job done.
Taxes: Our property taxes in St. Paul are higher than the surrounding suburbs, and it seems like we're not getting any more value for it. There's a proposal to add an additional 1% sales tax that would make St. Paul's the highest in Minnesota. Small businesses are closing, as the numbers no longer work, and the suggested increases will accelerate this trend. This will also accelerate the flight of the middle class from St. Paul, which, anecdotally, we already see taking place. We need to hold taxes right where they are.
Historic Preservation: People who come to visit St. Paul often comment on what a charming and historic town this is. We need to keep our historic buildings, large trees and brick streets wherever we can. Once they're gone, we very likely will never get them back. We need incentives to preserve historic buildings rather than tear them down. We should also expedite permitting for building renovations, while keeping the permitting process for building new buildings as it is. We also need to preserve our historic boulevards and not hold homeowners hostage by claiming streets cannot be repaired until they accept City Hall's plans for the street.
Affordable Housing: The ballot initiative that capped rent increases at 3% has gotten a lot of attention lately. I've been asked if, as a pro-business candidate, I would support rolling it back. My answer surprised some people. No. A ballot initiative is direct democracy at it's best, and represents the will of the people, therefore I don't believe it can or should be overturned. We need housing to be affordable for renters, as well as for homeowners. However, rent control often leads to vacant buildings and lack of new construction, which is why I will propose a 3% cap on property tax increases for commercial buildings and a 3% cap on city-controlled utility increases to landlords. If a landlord can't increase their income, at the very lease, they should see their expenses rise at no higher rate. Let's make it fair for everyone.