Are you ready, St. Paul voters? It's time to elect a new City Council and four school board members.

Ramsey County Elections Manager Joe Mansky says there's an adage among election officials - that voters don't get serious about preparing for elections until after the World Series. The series is over, and Election Day is Tuesday. Rather than endorsing candidates this time, we're presenting information about those seeking office, along with links to more details.

To the candidates: Thank you for offering your services to the people of St. Paul and for your dedication to our city. To the voters: Your voice - and your vote - matter.

City Council

In the geographic center of the city, Ward 1 is the most racially and economically diverse of the city's seven wards. It includes the Thomas-Dale/Frogtown and Summit-University neighborhoods and some neighborhoods east of Snelling Avenue.

Melvin Carter is a first-term incumbent with DFL and labor endorsements. His background includes a master's degree in public policy from the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs. He cites the achievement gap between white students and those of color as the ward's top issue. In meeting public budget challenges, he supports a balanced approach of service reductions and revenue increases to maintain St. Paul's quality of life (

Anthony J. Fernandez is a real estate agent, running as


an independent. The Planning Commission member and board chairman of the Frogtown Neighborhood Association cites job creation as the ward's top issue. He says he will pursue companies to develop in the ward and put people back to work, making sure business owners and residents are not negatively affected by light rail development. His priority in budget cutting goes to continuing to ensure a safe city (www.

Johnny Howard, retired from Ford Motor Co., has promised within 60 days of coming into office to create a public review board to screen Department of Safety and Inspections decisions. On his website Howard says, "I've heard from too many neighbors who say we need a way to hold accountable public employees who show behavior that they feel is unfair or even illegal." Concerns for the Green Party candidate and Thomas-Dale Block Club founder include what he calls a lack of leadership in the ward and getting its vacant homes rehabbed and back on the market. He says that a balanced approach to resolving fiscal difficulties makes sense - along with "a broad discussion about service levels...How much is that worth? How much are we willing to pay?" (

Also on the ballot is James Michael McEiver, who has not responded to inquiries about his candidacy.

The ward includes Lowertown and the downtown business district - with a growing residential population now at about 10,000 - along with much of the West Seventh Street neighborhood and the West Side.

Bill Hosko, an illustrator and art framer with a downtown gallery, supports putting two-term limits for City Council members on the 2013 ballot. He has said he would best represent the interests of fellow small-business owners eager to see the city build a Lowertown ballpark for the St. Paul Saints and an improved St. Paul Farmers' Market. Hosko calls himself a "fiscal conservative" and a "social and environmental progressive" who supports light rail but said the Central Corridor project should not have been routed down Fourth Street. He ran against incumbent Dave Thune in two previous elections (www.

Jim Ivey, co-founder of a software business, has the support of the Green Party and TakeAction Minnesota. He maintains that the city should put less emphasis on helping developers build large, "one-time projects" and pay more attention to small businesses, affordable housing and living-wage jobs. He says he would bring more voices to the table by establishing a citizens' commission, aided by expert advisers, to examine fairer, more sustainable revenue options and create practical recommendations (

Cynthia P. Schanno, a broker who buys and sells light aircraft, is considered one of the most conservative candidates in the race. She is campaigning for a freeze on property tax increases, city hiring and salaries, and says she has the business savvy to draw new employers to the city. She opposed the Central Corridor light-rail line, but with construction under way, she says the city needs to find ways to connect the line to businesses and residences (

Dave Thune, the incumbent, running with DFL endorsement, is a part-time musician and coffee shop owner who served on the council from 1991 to 1997 and again since 2004. He is chair of the city's Housing and Redevelopment Authority, giving him a lead role in high-profile projects. Thune says he has spoken out for free speech, human rights and clean air, while becoming the city's strongest voice for residential and small-business development (

Sharon Anderson has repeatedly run as a Republican candidate for Minnesota attorney general. She also received 3 percent of the vote in a September 2009 primary race for St. Paul mayor. Anderson has filed frequent lawsuits against elected officials accusing them of playing a direct or indirect role in the foreclosure of her Summit Avenue home decades ago (

The ward covers the southwest corner of the city, including Highland Park and part of the West Seventh Street neighborhood. It's been a lively contest since 12-year incumbent Pat Harris declined to run again. Redevelopment issues are key in the ward, the home of the Ford Plant, which will be decommissioned this year.

John Mannillo, active in the community for more than 30 years, is a small-business owner specializing in property redevelopment, historic preservation and commercial real estate. He has a bachelor's degree from Hofstra University and a master's in business administration from Long Island University. Mannillo says he will use his redevelopment experience to encourage a partnership between the city and Ford that shares costs and resources and allows the community to help guide the redevelopment process. He declared at an Oct. 19 debate that he would want to cap property taxes for anyone over age 65 (www.

Tylor J. Slinger, a communication specialist with U.S. Bank, has a bachelor's degree from Metropolitan State University. Slinger, a Libertarian, has argued for eliminating city zoning entirely and moving toward the "Houston model," giving more power to neighborhoods to reject or embrace development on a case-by-case basis. He says the safety of the community shouldn't be a bargaining chip in debates about cuts in such fundamental services as police and fire protection (

Eve Stein, a former financial planner, now teaches and coaches in St. Paul Public Schools. Stein, who describes herself as a political independent running with the support of small-business owners, said she has not sought endorsements from special-interest groups. The ward's top issue, she says, is loss of Local Government Aid, which leads to higher property taxes and fewer city services. Stein says she will work to continue St. Paul's tradition of being one of the most livable cities in the country (

Chris Tolbert, an assistant Hennepin County attorney and the DFL-endorsed candidate, has secured support from police, fire and labor groups, as well as the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce, outgoing Council Member Pat Harris and Mayor Chris Coleman. He envisions a broad mix of uses for the Ford site, provided there's sufficient environmental remediation, and favors a balanced budgetary approach that "prioritizes public safety and high-quality public services" (

The ward includes the Hamline-Midway, Merriam Park and St. Anthony Park neighborhoods and parts of Macalester-Groveland and Como.

Russ Stark, the DFL-endorsed, first-term incumbent, has a master's degree in urban affairs and public policy and spent 10 years in the nonprofit sector organizing businesses and transit initiatives along University Avenue. Citing the Central Corridor project as the ward's top issue, he says he will work to ensure that businesses survive construction and can thrive afterward. He said the city needs to look at saving money through greater efficiencies, such as pooling resources with other levels of government and sharing building space (

Curtis Stock, an air-quality compliance enforcement agent with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, did not seek endorsements. He, too, cites the Central Corridor as the ward's top issue, stressing support for current businesses and a viable business environment once service begins. He suggests efficiencies, including working with neighboring cities, as ways to "address budget issues without automatically raising taxes or reducing services." Stock's campaign website describes his efforts to create a "sustainable yard" at his home, with runoff-reducing landscaping, rain barrels and other features (

The ward includes the North End and Railroad Island, as well as parts of the Como and Payne/Phalen neighborhoods. The race is considered one of the most competitive; neither candidate secured DFL endorsement.

Amy Brendmoen, a former advertising executive who spent 11 years as a staff member in the Minnesota attorney general's office, has endorsements that include the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce, the St. Paul Police Federation, the St. Paul Firefighters Local 21 and TakeAction Minnesota. She says she would work with the city, organizations, law enforcement, businesses and neighborhoods to determine and implement ways to expedite and deepen the revitalization of the Rice Street area and other commercial corridors. She describes herself as "a champion ready to work with stakeholders" to overcome obstacles and make the ward a destination (

Lee Helgen, the two-term incumbent, serves as council vice president. He has the support of AFSCME Council 5, the SEIU Minnesota State Council, the St. Paul Regional Labor Federation and the St. Paul Federation of Teachers Local 28. (Others supporting Helgen include Ramsey County Sheriff Matt Bostrom, County Commissioner Victoria Reinhardt, City Council President Kathy Lantry and U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum.) Helgen, who has a master's degree in public administration from Hamline University, cited neighborhood safety as a key issue (

The ward, in the northeast corner of the city, includes such East Side neighborhoods as Frost Lake, Hayden Heights, Hazel Park, Payne/Phalen, Phalen Village and Prosperity.

Dan Bostrom, the DFL-endorsed incumbent, has served on the council for 16 years. He is a retired St. Paul police officer who also served for 10 years as a member of the St. Paul School Board. At a recent forum, he cited work with the Wilder Foundation and the St. Paul Public Schools to develop the Achievement Plus school on York Avenue. The decision brought $20 million of investment in the neighborhood, said Bostrom, who serves on the board of the St. Paul Port Authority, which is redeveloping the 3M site on the East Side (

Bee Kevin Xiong, a Green Party candidate, was born in Laos and came to the United States at age 14. A real estate agent with a master's degree in guidance counseling, he said he is concerned about high crime rates, vacant housing and a lack of jobs. At the forum, he called crime his top issue: "I want to make sure that your kids, my kids...can walk safely to the corner store." Xiong is a light-rail transit supporter who wants to see rail service expanded to connect East Side residents to jobs in downtown St. Paul (http://

The ward, on St. Paul's southeast side, includes the neighborhoods of Dayton's Bluff, Mounds Park, Battle Creek, Highwood, Hazel Park, Conway, Scenic Hills and Sunray.

Kathy Lantry, the DFL-endorsed incumbent city council president, is running unopposed. The fourth-generation resident of the East Side was first elected in 1998 (www.

School Board

As Minnesota's second-largest district continues to roll out its three-year "Strong Schools, Strong Communities" overhaul plan, eight challengers and two incumbents are facing off for four of seven seats on the St. Paul School Board.

Anne Carroll, a board member since 2000, has a master of planning in public affairs degree and works as a strategic planner and public engagement consultant. Carroll, endorsed by the DFL, says the major issue facing the district is raising expectations and achievement for all students, while accelerating the learning of students of color, those in poverty and those with special needs. At a recent candidates' forum, she said that in its first year, "Strong Schools, Strong Communities" already has produced modest test score gains and a slight increase in fall enrollment after years of declines (

Mary Doran, endorsed, according to her website, by the DFL and St. Paul Federation of Teachers, works in architectural drafting and design and is completing a bachelor's degree in elementary education. Strengths, she says, include her knowledge of the district's budget, having served on the Citizens Budget and Finance Advisory Committee and the Budget and Finance District-wide Action Team. She says that 300 hours of volunteering in her daughters' school allowed her to see firsthand "what does and does not work for the children of St. Paul." To address the achievement gap, she will cultivate innovation from teachers, principals, parents, students and other stakeholders. Doran has said she would advocate for more state aid and private donations (

Tiffany Fearing is a single mother of a first-grade daughter. She says, "I was born and raised in St. Paul. I went through St. Paul Public Schools and now have a child in them. I will bring new ideas and energy to the table. I know how to stand up, be a leader and solve problems." The major issue facing the district, Fearing says, is keeping students interested in school until graduation. "I would let the students have a voice. We should get laptops, get rid of outdated textbooks and go paperless. We also need to get students the resources they need for college" (

Keith Hardy, endorsed, according to his website, by DFL and labor groups including the St. Paul Federation of Teachers, is an incumbent serving his first term. He is a project analyst at U.S. Bank and has completed coursework for a master's degree in technical communication. Hardy, who visited every St. Paul public school during his first 18 months on the board, says the education equity gap and poverty are the major issues facing our schools. "I will continue to ask the district to provide equitable - not equal - resources for each school. I will advocate for eradication of soft bigotry and other negative attitudes that can lead some teachers and employees to limit students' capacity to excel academically." (http://

Kevin Huepenbecker, an accounting clerk and real estate agent, has been an active volunteer, including serving as chair of the Chelsea Heights Elementary Site Council, co-chair of the Murray Junior High Parent Association, chair of the Citizens Budget and Finance Advisory Committee and as a member of the district's Budget Action Team. "Over the past several years, the district's budget has increased while enrollment has fallen. That has resulted in more money to educate fewer students. Still, our students continue to lag behind the rest of the state, and the achievement gap has continued to grow" (http://

Pat Igo, a Realtor who also was a candidate in 2009, long has been involved in the community. He says the major issue facing the district has two parts: the budget and its impact on the achievement gap. "We have put more and more money into fewer and fewer students without success. It is time to re-evaluate the use of funds against the solutions. We need to change our thinking: The curriculum should drive the money" (

Devin Miller, a graduate of the University of Minnesota with a master of divinity degree from Grace Theological Seminary, is a Green Party candidate. He has worked for 21 years with youth and the St. Paul community on educational and cultural issues, and has "a commitment to see youth succeed through knowledge of self and the world they live in." He says his plan is to equip schools with needed resources, partner with parents and the community to ensure needed support and instill within each student the desire to graduate (

Al Oertwig served on the board for nearly 20 years before stepping down in 2007. "In challenging times, we need strong board leadership. I've challenged administrators when needed," he says, noting that as board chair in 2002, he led the school levy vote, saving staff in every school. At a candidate forum, he said the district's "Strong Schools, Strong Communities" plan has disrupted successful district programs such as the French immersion L'Etoile du Nord (Al Oertwig for School Board on Facebook).

Lizz Paulson, is a reading tutor at East Side Learning Center/Franklin Music Academy. She brings a "30-year perspective in education and current involvement in a St. Paul Public Schools partnership that improves parent and student performance, closing the achievement gap and gaining statewide attention." She says that as an educator, she understands the effect of curriculum policy and can use her educational background to avoid some of the persistent and costly mistakes made by a school board (

Louise Seeba, an assistant city attorney in St. Paul, is DFL-endorsed. Her website says she also is endorsed by the St. Paul Federation of Teachers. Seeba says she brings "a public-school parent's voice, coupled with the strongest advocacy skills of any candidate. My background in management and economics will help with budgets. I can best bring all the stakeholders together with the skills of an attorney, the budgetary eye of someone who has worked in finance and the concerns of a mom." Reducing the achievement gap, while improving achievement and retaining all St. Paul Public Schools kids, she says, is the major issue facing the district (www.