The race to succeed State Representative Cy Thao will come into clearer relief Saturday, as the candidates debate one another in a ninety minute public candidate forum. The DFL will look to endorse a candidate at its convention on Saturday, March 6th.
Four DFL candidates have announced they are running: Former St. Paul Public Schools assistant to the Superintendent Jeremiah Ellis; local community organizer Rena Moran; former Frogtown Times publisher and health care advocate Tony Schmitz; and former Legal Aide legislative advocate Jessica Webster.
The DFL candidate forum – which is free and open to the public – will be held Saturday, Feb. 27, from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. at Washington Middle School, 1041 Marion Street, St. Paul.
The forum will be moderated by former St. Paul State Representative Ray Faricy (served 1971-1980). Community members have been allowed to submit comments in advance of the debate as well as at the event itself.
The forum will focus on the breadth of issues faced by the legislature, with a particular focus on issues of critical importance to the district:
• The Central Corridor LRT line runs through the middle of the district. As construction nears, community discussions have focused increasingly on what should be done to support the many small businesses on the Avenue during and after construction, as well as continue to retain a diverse, inclusive housing stock.
• The initial phases of the housing crisis, foreclosures, and vacancies have had a particular impact on Frogtown and North End. The city has responded in part by making Frogtown and North End Invest St. Paul focus areas, but the forum will focus on legislative responses.
• The district is populated by three cultural groups of reasonably similar size – African-American, Caucasian, and Asian/Hmong. The forum will explore the ability of candidates to meaningfully resonate and connect with members in each of these diverse groups.
• State cutbacks imperil key local services, including libraries, parks and recreation centers, and the school district. The forum will explore the appropriate relationship between state and local government, and how to build support for a renewed relationship to sustain these key services in the district.
• The forum will investigate how to support key priorities like health care access as the state struggles with a major structural budget deficit.
Rep. Cy Thao, who was first elected in 2002, announced in letter sent February 11th to constituents that he was not seeking re-election. He will have served four terms total. Endorsement for a successor to Cy Thao will take place at the Senate District 65 Convention on Saturday, March 6th, 2010 starting at 9:30am at St. Paul Central High School.
For more information, visit www.sd65dfl.org, or call Senate District 65 DFL Chair Bob Spaulding at 651-292-0613.