St. Louis Park voters will vote for mayor and two at-large city council positions during this year’s election on Tuesday, Nov. 5.

Mayor Jake Spano is facing a challenge from Yvette Baudelaire while Councilmember Steve Hallfin faces competition from Deb Brinkman and Larry Kraft in the at-large A race.

With Councilmember Thom Miller opting not to run for re-election, Joseph Israel and Nadia Mohamed are seeking the at-large B seat.

Polling locations will be open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 5. Minnesotans eligible to vote can cast ballots early by voting absentee through the mail or in person at St. Louis Park City Hall, 5005 Minnetonka Blvd.

For information on where to vote and how to register, visit sos.state.mn.us/elections-voting.

Information about voting that is specific to St. Louis Park is available at stlouispark.org/vote.

This will be the first year that the city will use ranked-choice voting to determine the winners of municipal elections. Voters will be able to select up to three candidates in order of preference for each race, although only the at-large A race includes three candidates this year.

The annual stipend for mayor is $12,797 plus $4,758 for serving as an Economic Development Authority commissioner, bringing the total yearly compensation to $17,555 for the part-time position. The annual stipend for each council member is $7,384 plus the same amount as the mayor for serving on the EDA, for a total of $12,142 for the part-time roles.

Mayor

Yvette Baudelaire

Address: Did not respond. Listed a campaign address in St. Paul when filing.

Age: 42

Family: Two sons

Education: Post-decree degree in international conflict resolution and diplomacy by Spanish and French universities plus Juris Doctor-level training at Hamline University

Occupation: Civil and family law mediator and arbitrator, Minnesota Supreme Court interpreter

Years lived in the city: Did not respond.

Community/civic organizations involvement: Advocate for 10 years for children and women victims of domestic abuse in the community on a volunteer basis, pro bono coach for survivors of domestic abuse, advocate for the Spanish-speaking community in education and legal matters, board member of a sarcoma cancer organization, founder of the Institute of Judicial Excellence

Why are you seeking election to the St. Louis Park City Council?

My heartfelt motivation comes from my own experiences residing in a city that today is calling for responsive changes, a city demanding effective, rolled-up sleeves and hands-on mayoral representation. That is why I am here: to challenge the status quo, to motivate and to inspire SLP residents to work together to better our communities.

As elected mayor, I envision a functional city emphasizing strategic city taxes distribution, budgeting and spending, with check and balances for public officials and dignifying services for our residents, 24/7 advocacy for local collaboration and local investments, for the benefit and security of our communities in St. Louis Park.

What do you consider the top issues that the city council should address?

For me, being a mayor is all about representing the communities within our city, about being the bridge between residents and city management and the city council, being an advocate for residents, a promoter of local businesses, a collaborator of the City Council-Met Council, a team player with state and national government. It’s being a mediator of the city’s challenges, a translator of residents’ demands into the city council’s action plan, a messenger of the voices and projects, goals and priorities, a listener and a researcher/planner for the team shaping the direction and vision of our city. The time is now. Our city is calling for changes.

What are your priorities and goals for the upcoming term, and how do you intend to achieve those goals?

Mayoral proposals:

• Comprising city’s purpose and vision

• Comprehensive strategic planning

•Active and effective communities participation.

Jake Spano

Address: 3978 Dakota Ave. S., in the Brooklawns Neighborhood

Age: 50

Family: Wife and two children

Education: B.A., Hamline University, and masters degree at University of Minnesota Duluth

Occupation: Deputy Minnesota secretary of state

Years lived in the city: 16 years

Community/civic organizations involvement: Site council for kids’ elementary school, St. Louis Park Public School Foundation, Brooklawns Neighborhood president, youth sports volunteer for hockey, soccer and football, city council member and current mayor

Contact info: spanoforslpmayor@gmail.com and Twitter

@spanojake

Why are you seeking election to the St. Louis Park City Council?

For a few reasons: First, I love this town and our residents, and I believe we should all use our talents in some way, in service of others – this is one of the ways I’ve served my neighbors. Secondly, I was elected four years ago on a promise to make the Park a safer, more prosperous and more generous community. We’ve achieved many of our goals, and I’m eager to continue to build on our successes over the next four years, together. Lastly, cities are being asked to take on more and more, which for us means being more deliberate and intentional about what’s going on in our community – that excites me!

What do you consider the top issues that the city council should address?

• We must make sure we continue to build on a strong record of serving all of our residents.

• Affordability of housing is critical

• Maintaining our AAA bond rating by continuing our sound fiscal management

• Building on our high-quality fire and police services

• Being married to a St. Louis Park public school teacher, building even stronger partnerships with our school system is high on my list.

• As the co-chair of the National League of Cities Race Equity and Leadership Committee, making sure all our residents have equitable access to and are included in the decision-making process around city services and amenities like our great parks system is important.

• Finally, given that I chair the Transit Committee for the National League of Cities, driving smart development around the Green Line light rail stations that reflects the needs of our entire community will be a major undertaking.

What are your priorities and goals for the upcoming term, and how do you intend to achieve those goals?

My most important priority as mayor is to make sure that our city government is functioning well and considers the needs of the entire community before taking any action, no matter how well-intentioned. We have accomplished a lot together, especially around affordable housing and our commitment to addressing climate change in our community. Rather than move on to the “hot” issue of the day, our focus for the next four years will be on refining and propelling the work already underway. This means really digging into the commitments that we’re engaged in because this work must deliver on the promises made for all of our community.

I’m really looking forward to the next four years.

Council at-large A

Deb Brinkman

Address: 4327 Alabama Ave. S.

Age: 61

Family: Husband Mark, children Dustin, Brandon and wife Caitlin, grandchild Jack

Education: Bachelors of Science, University of Northwestern, St. Paul

Occupation: Independent contractor, project/program management

Years lived in the city: 40 or more

Community/civic organizations involvement: President, League of Women Voters of St. Louis Park, led the adoption of ranked-choice voting, Children First Champion, election judge

Why are you seeking election to the St. Louis Park City Council?

I love St. Louis Park. My family has lived in St. Louis Park for over three generations. After many years of volunteer activity and service, I am excited to apply my time and energy with a strong, effective voice to the city council. I’m tech-savvy and lead with a collaborative style, tenacious aptitude and positive energy.

What do you consider the top issues that the city council should address?

The top issues the city council should address are affordable housing; the climate action plan; diversity, equity and inclusion; and transportation

What are your priorities and goals for the upcoming term and how do you intend to achieve those goals?

My priorities and goals for the upcoming term:

Affordable housing. As a city council member, I will work to maintain our current naturally occurring affordable housing stock. I will support efforts to increase 30% area median income housing. I will support additional tax-increment financing funding for development as long as they include affordable units. I will be looking for development projects to include some larger units.

Climate action plan. I want to look for partnerships to incentivize everyone to participate in reducing our SLP carbon footprint. This is an exciting initiative that can bring us all together.

Diversity, equity and inclusion. As a city council member, I will apply a diversity lens to our initiatives to evaluate who might be excluded. I will work to reduce unnecessary gender labels and actively look for opportunities to celebrate cultural differences with our neighbors. I have had the opportunity to work with team members from many countries. I find holidays to be an effective bridge to cultural acceptance.

Transportation. There are many, many neighbors looking forward to the light rail. To help the light rail be successful, we need to find alternative transportation options to help us safely get to the light rail stations. I’ve door-knocked in every SLP neighborhood. A desire for safer streets is the most frequent concern I hear from neighbors. Cars are going too fast, and they are not stopping completely for stop signs. I would like to make it easier for residents to add a stop sign and support reducing the speed limit on residential streets.

Passionate about democracy. I led the adoption of ranked-choice voting. I’m confident that with RCV, you will feel your vote has more power.

Steve Hallfin

Address: 4032 Webster Ave. S.

Age: 52

Family: Wife Beth, son TJ

Education: B.S. in accounting from Mankato State University

Occupation: Ameritas Life Insurance Corp., large group sales rep

Years lived in the city: 46

Community/civic organizations involvement: City council (2012 to present), St. Louis Park Emergency Program board of directors (2014 to present), Children First Asset Champion, Browndale Neighborhood Association president, chair of the St. Louis Park Parks and Recreation Commission, St. Louis Park Little League president, board member and coach (2001-2011)

Contact info: 612-987-3282 and hallfinslp@gmail.com

Why are you seeking election to the St. Louis Park City Council?

My answer to this question is the same now as it was when I first ran for this office back in 2011. As a lifelong resident of St. Louis Park, I have a love of our fine city, and I want to continue to be part of the decision-making process moving forward. I have been humbled to be elected twice, and I am seeking re-election as the at-large A council member to continue the fine work I have been lucky enough to be a part of over the last seven-plus years.

What do you consider the top issues that the city council should address?

In the coming years, the top issues to me are continuing to implement our climate action plan, transit-oriented development and responding to the needs of our citizenry. The city has made many strides itself toward our climate action plan, but we need to help the business community as well. What we as a city do in and around the three Southwest Light Rail Transit stations is key to what St Louis Park is to become in the future.

What are your priorities and goals for the upcoming term, and how do you intend to achieve those goals?

My priorities are straightforward. To follow the Vision 3.0 the city recently undertook and implement the city’s five strategic priorities:

1) St. Louis Park is committed to being a leader in racial equity and inclusion in order to create a more just and inclusive community for all.

2) St. Louis Park is committed to continue to lead in environmental stewardship.

3) St. Louis Park is committed to providing a broad range of housing and neighborhood-oriented development.

4) St. Louis Park is committed to providing a variety of options for people to make their way around the city comfortably, safely and reliably.

5) St. Louis Park is committed to creating opportunities to build social capital through community engagement.

Using these priorities as a guide, I will work with my fellow council members and city staff to make St Louis Park a place where everyone wants to live, work, and participate now and into the future.

Larry Kraft

Address: 2248 Drew Ave. S.

Age: 53

Family: Wife, Lauri; two children at St. Louis Park Middle School and St. Louis Park High School

Education: Cornell University, B.S. in computer science, MBA

Occupation: Nonprofit management

Years lived in the city: 16

Community/civic organizations involvement: Environment and Sustainability Commission commissioner, Climate Action Plan Committee, Partners in Energy Team (Xcel Energy/St. Louis Park partnership), mentor with the St. Louis Park High School Roots and Shoots environmental club, St. Louis Park Magazine Editorial Advisory Board, steering committee of the St. Louis Park Arts & Culture Strategic Framework, basketball coach (recreational/traveling), Little League baseball coach

Contact info: larryakraft@gmail.com and 952-715-7535

Why are you seeking election to the St. Louis Park City Council?

I see a tremendous opportunity for St. Louis Park to rethink how our city works, making it healthier, happier and more equitable: our new climate action plan is the best in the state. We have an opportunity to make smart policy – not only to combat climate change but to have a positive impact for residents in multiple ways – from transit to affordable housing to economic development.

The key is to allocate resources wisely – in fact, in areas like energy usage, we can be looking for cost savings.

I bring 25 years of high-tech business experience, with leadership positions in both startups and large public companies. I’ve run a budget about the size of the city’s budget. For most of the last five years, I’ve led the national nonprofit iMatter, supporting youth leaders as they press local governments to act on climate change. Some of the most rewarding work I’ve done has been here in St. Louis Park, mentoring the amazing group of students from the high school that pushed the city council to adopt our climate action plan.

What do you consider the top issues that the city council should address?

• Implementation of our climate action plan

• More progress on racial equity and inclusion

• Affordable housing

• Transit

• Development, especially as it relates to the new light rail

I’ve also had discussions with residents about the importance of issues like neighborhood traffic, public safety, nature preservation and more. I plan to listen to residents, with consistent follow-through, to address issues large and small – and, to proactively consider how we think about St. Louis Park’s future.

What are your priorities and goals for the upcoming term, and how do you intend to achieve those goals?

We have a unique opportunity to make lives better here in St. Louis Park – and to have an impact beyond our borders – by being a model for other communities when it comes to smart climate policy. It’s not just about climate, though; this approach translates into specific initiatives, such as programs to address:

• Energy efficiency in affordable housing, helping the environment and lowering cost for residents

• Transit infrastructure that takes advantage of the opportunity light rail affords us

• Creating a “Climate Champions” business engagement program to help local businesses cut operating costs and stimulate growth

• Making money-saving community solar available, with no up-front costs for residents

• Development and growth that keeps St. Louis Park affordable for all

I find the best way to achieve goals is to engage people, ask questions, and do a lot of listening. I’d apply this approach with my fellow city council members, business leaders and members of the community.

Council at-large B

Joseph Israel

Address: 2520 Kipling Ave. S.

Age: 69

Family: Wife Matilde; daughter Gabriella, husband Michael, granddaughter Lana Rose; son Daniel; daughter Jessie, husband Daniel

Education: B.S., M.S., executive MBA

Occupation: Retired engineer

Years lived in the city: 17-plus years

Community/civic organizations involvement: Leader, organizer Sephardi community; election judge; soccer referee

Why are you seeking election to the St. Louis Park City Council?

To rein in the unbridled rise in city taxes and slow down spending on vanity projects; take on projects that directly benefit St. Louis Park residents.

Be a voice of reason for efficiently budgeting the running of the city and wisely spending residents’ taxes.

What do you consider the top issues that the city council should address?

Address aging city infrastructure; increase the number of police patrols for more visibility to curb the rise in crime and mental health problems.

What are your priorities and goals for the upcoming term, and how do you intend to achieve those goals?

Increase transparency in our local government; more participation and input from our residents, by instituting an annual survey of major issues and their potential funding commitments.

Challenge budgeting demands by challenging the city manager and department managers to develop more efficient, less costly alternative solutions, resulting in lowering the tax burden on all St. Louis Park city residents.

Nadia Mohamed

Address: 2932 Flag Ave. S.

Age: 23

Family: Mom and six siblings

Education: Bachelor’s degree in human resources management from Metropolitan State University

Occupation: Human resources personnel

Years lived in the city: 13

Community/civic organizations involvement: Member of the Multicultural Advisory Committee

Contact info: nmohamedslp@gmail.com

Why are you seeking election to the St. Louis Park City Council?

I am running for city council to bring a fresh new perspective to St. Louis Park. If I win this upcoming election, I will be the first and only black Muslim woman sitting as a city council member in this community. This is a big step for the city, and I am ready to work on creating an inclusive city council that is ready to make the necessary changes the community wants and needs. My experiences growing up in St. Louis Park have allowed me to have unique insight to what those wants and needs may be, and I’m ready to work toward a St. Louis Park we all continue to call home.

What do you consider the top issues that the city council should address?

My initial plans for the city council are based on my personal experiences growing up in St. Louis Park along with my experiences in hearing what many community members want to see change. Affordable housing is one of my top priorities; I grew up and continue to live in affordable housing in St. Louis Park, and I believe that affordable housing is the most effective way to end the cycle of poverty. Diversity and inclusion is another point I feel the city council should prioritize. It’s extremely important to be welcoming to everyone, and when I say everyone, I mean everyone. Everything in our city should be done through the lens of equity and inclusion and to be intentional in how we approach and work with everyone that makes up our city. Climate action is yet another strong point in my campaign. We need to be able to protect the city’s natural habitat by implementing policies and practices that move us forward into maintaining our natural resources. Lastly, youth engagement is very important to me. We need to work more with our youth and engage them in the city and civic process.

What are your priorities and goals for the upcoming term, and how do you intend to achieve those goals?

One of my top goals for the upcoming term is to increase funding for the affordable housing trust. In order to achieve this goal, it would be important to look more creatively into public and private partnerships, best practices in cities across the country, and innovative solutions that truly help us reach this goal. Another goal I have is more public transportation. It’s important to have more city buses that have routes through St. Louis Park that allow residents more means of transportation.

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