Creating Safe & Welcoming Neighborhoods
Our neighborhoods are our greatest asset. Rebecca believes in safe, healthy neighborhoods where you can get around easily on foot, on a bike, with a stroller, in a wheelchair or in a car, where you can walk to local stores, parks and entertainment, and where police are responsible to citizens for respectful service.
- Commercial Vitality Zone on the West Side - Under Rebecca's leadership, the City designated $325,000 to be invested in the West Side. Among the completed projects: seven small business grants, the pedestrian bridge mural over Robert Street, and sidewalk replacement and boulevard trees on Cesar Chavez.
- Security Cameras at Linwood - In response to community concerns about group fights at Linwood, Rebecca worked with the Parks & Recreation Department to find additional funds to install security cameras at Linwood Recreation Center.
- Strengthening tobacco ordinances - When the City Council restricted menthol sales to liquor stores and tobacco shops, Rebecca was concerned that this would make tobacco licenses more lucrative and would lead to the proliferation of tobacco shops. Rebecca worked with her colleagues and the Association of Non-Smokers Minnesota to pass an ordinance that caps the number of tobacco licenses in the city at 240 (the number of licenses issued at the time the ordinance passed). This cap on licenses will help keep our neighborhoods healthy and will prevent unintended consequences of the menthol restriction.
- Riverview Corridor - As a member of the Policy Advisory Committee (PAC) for the Riverview Corridor, Rebecca advocated for a data-driven approach to selecting the transit mode and voted in favor of "modern streetcar" as the locally preferred alternative. She also authored a resolution, which passed unanimously, calling for pedestrian safety and streetscape improvements to occur along W. 7th Street in conjunction with the transit work. She continues to work on the PAC in its next phase of design and is closely tracking the project to make sure it meets the goals of enhanced transit, pedestrian safety, and cost effectiveness.
- Capitol City Bikeway - Biking around town with her kids has made Rebecca very aware of the challenges of biking safely in many parts of Saint Paul, and especially downtown. Rebecca has been an avid supporter of the Capital City Bikeway and has been advocating for its completion since the first leg was opened on Jackson Street in 2017. Working with Mayor Carter's administration, Rebecca helped create a timeline for fully funding and completing the project by 2023.
- Speed limit resolution - In response to constituent concerns, Rebecca coauthored and passed a resolution lowering speed limits on portions of Cesar Chavez and Wabasha Streets to make it easier for pedestrians to cross these busy thoroughfares.
- Police Customer Service Survey - Although the St. Paul Police Department's motto is "trusted service with respect", many Ward 2 residents continue to feel that they do not receive courteous service from police. To address this issue, Rebecca worked closely with Chief Todd Axtell to design a customer service survey to be completed by St. Paul residents after they interact with police. The survey allows respondents to rate their interactions with a specific officer and give feedback that is used in training and performance evaluations.
Downtown Alliance – Rebecca is a founding board member of the Downtown Alliance and sponsored the resolution in favor of creating a Downtown Improvement District.
Rebecca believes that for our city to continue to thrive, we need to attract new economic ventures, new developments, and good-paying jobs. And we need to make sure our people are trained to take those jobs so that wealth remains in our own community. Saint Paul's vibrant and diverse businesses make our community great. Rebecca believes in supporting and celebrating our businesses and in making it easier for entrepreneurs to create jobs in Saint Paul.
- Open for Business - The Open for Business initiative streamlines and clarifies City permitting processes and provides project navigators for small business owners on complex projects. Led by Rebecca and her colleagues Councilmembers Jane Prince and Dai Thao, in partnership with Mayor Carter's office, the initiative has produced a "Pocket Guide for Doing Business in St. Paul" in four languages and is continually improving customer service and other practices.
- Business Awards - Businesses are at the heart of our communities but we often forget to recognize them for all that they contribute to Saint Paul. In 2017, Rebecca led the creation of the St. Paul Business Awards as a way to appreciate businesses of all sizes that are committed to equity, employee growth and their communities.
Support for small businesses
- Solo massage license
- Sidewalk Sandwich signs
- Commercial Development District for North Garden Theater
- Roof signs
- Electric Assists on pedicabs
Investing in our Youth
As a former middle school science teacher and a mother of two, Rebecca is deeply invested in creating opportunities for young people. She believes that caring for our children - nurturing their promise and potential - is our most fundamental obligation as a society. It's work that many families can't do on their own - their other burdens are too great. Government needs to create conditions in which families can thrive.
- SPARK (Saint Paul All Ready for Kindergarten) - Ensuring that every child gets off to a strong start is one of the smartest investments we can make in the future of our city. Today, high-quality, affordable childcare is out of reach for many Saint Paul families, which makes it harder for parents to enter the workforce and leaves many children unprepared for kindergarten. Rebecca led a team from the City, Saint Paul Public Schools, providers, and other organizations to create a plan for a citywide system of early learning that will create more high-quality child care spots and help parents afford the cost of quality care.
- Youth Fund - Saint Paul's "Youth Fund" directs 10% of all charitable gambling proceeds to non-profits serving young people in Saint Paul. Rebecca worked with the young people in St. Paul Youth Services' Youth Power program on redesigning the Youth Fund to prioritize organizations that serve low-income young people and young people of color. The new program guidelines also require organizations to reduce barriers to access for young people, such as transportation, and demonstrate results in order to continue to receive funding.
- Menthol and Flavored Tobacco - Keeping young people safe and healthy is our first priority as a community. One of the greatest threats to young people's quality of life in every St. Paul neighborhood is tobacco, especially menthol and other flavored tobacco products which make it easier to start smoking and harder to quit. The tobacco industry has been preying on young people, especially young people of color, for generations and these flavored products are some of the most addictive of all. Working with the Association of Non-Smokers Minnesota and other allies, Rebecca supported an ordinance restricting menthol and flavored tobacco products to tobacco shops and liquor stores with tobacco licenses, and she led the Council's effort to cap the number of tobacco licenses citywide.
- Free Rec Programming - Rebecca supports free recreational programming citywide so that all kids can participate in Parks and Rec activities regardless of income. Rebecca has consistently supported additional funding for the Parks and Rec Department to provide free recreational activities. She is also working with Parks leadership to ensure that all programs are high-quality and that they are serving kids from all backgrounds, languages and parts of St. Paul.
- Right Track - The City's youth employment program, Right Track, provides high-school youth with high-powered summer jobs that help young people learn career skills and build a personal network. Rebecca has hired numerous Right Track interns in her own Council office and is a strong voice on the Council for increased funding for the program.
Building a Just City
Saint Paul is an incredible place - but not everyone is sharing in the wealth. Too many of our residents struggle every day against the burdens of poverty, inequality and discrimination. Rebecca believes in standing up for those without a voice and believes government can be a force for justice. voice on the Council for progressive policies that will lift up all families. She co-sponsored Saint Paul's nation-leading Earned Sick and Safe Time ordinance and is working hard to raise the minimum wage. Rebecca authored a resolution requiring all new City buildings to install gender-neutral bathrooms and she is working with community partners and employers to make it easier for residents returning from incarceration to get a job.
- Earned Sick and Safe Time - Shortly after taking office in 2016, Rebecca cast one of her first votes to support the City's Earned Sick and Safe Time ordinance. The ordinance, one of the strongest in the country, ensures all Saint Paul employees paid time off to take care of themselves or a sick relative or to escape domestic violence.
- $15 Minimum Wage - Rebecca has consistently championed a higher minimum wage that helps lift families out of poverty. She supported the City's $15 minimum wage ordinance and introduced amendments that ensured a faster implementation for the largest businesses and strong enforcement and anti-retaliation measures.
- Gender-Neutral Bathrooms - In an effort to ensure that everyone feels comfortable at City Hall. Rebecca sponsored a resolution that commits the City to installing gender-neutral bathrooms in all new buildings and to redesigning existing bathrooms to be gender-neutral at the earliest opportunity. City Hall can and should lead the way on progressive initiatives like this one, and set an example for other public and private entities to follow.
- Humane Pet Stores - St. Paul is a caring and humane community and its ordinances should reflect those values. Rebecca introduced a Humane Pet Store Ordinance that cuts off revenue to puppy and kitten mills that treat animals with cruelty and neglect by banning the sale of dogs and cats in Saint Paul pet shops. Under the ordinance, pet stores can still host adoption events to encourage consumers to adopt animals from rescue and shelter organizations. Saint Paul is the third and largest city in Minnesota to adopt this ordinance.
- Division of Labor standards within HREEO –An ordinance is only as good as educating and enforcing it. After passing the ordinance raising the minimum wage in Saint Paul, Rebecca lead the work to ensure we had the staff and the money to educate the public about it and ensure its enforcement.
Accessible and Effective Government
Rebecca believes government should be used to its full potential. That means our elected officials and civil servants should be working at full-tilt to provide outstanding services to the public and to pass thoughtful, effective policy, and to make it easy for people to understand what government is doing and how they can get involved. She believes we need to be constantly on the lookout for new ways of doing things, new technology, and new processes that allow us to work smarter, not harder. We can't be afraid of change - in fact, our greatest opportunity in government is to fundamentally change the way our systems work. She also believes that City Hall should be accessible to the people it serves; Rebecca gets out of the office and into the community regularly to connect with constituents through Community Coffees and other events.
- Community Conversations + Virtual Lunch Chats – Twice a month, Rebecca holds these informal conversations where community members are invited to drop in and share their ideas and concerns for the ward. Community Conversations rotate to different local businesses in each of the ward's neighborhoods and Virtual Lunch Chats are held monthly on Facebook so constituents can connect with Rebecca and one another without leaving home or work.
- Transparent Voting - When Rebecca took office in 2015, the City Council had a very confusing voting process. When a vote was called at a Council meeting, the City Clerk would quickly read the list of Council members' names and, if no one yelled "nay", the item would be approved unanimously. This meant Council members could vote on dozens of important items in a single meeting without ever saying a word - and it made the meetings extremely confusing for the public. Rebecca's first resolution, two months after taking office, changed the Council's voting method to the traditional "aye" and "nay" used in most meetings - a small step toward greater transparency.
Housing for All
As Saint Paul faces its most serious housing crisis in a decade, Rebecca has been fighting to expand the supply of affordable housing and to allow additional housing options such as Accessory Dwelling Units.
- Affordable housing - Housing is one of our city's greatest challenges. Rebecca has been a strong supporter of affordable housing, fighting for new affordable units in the former Pioneer Press Building and on the West Side Flats, advocating for a permanent Housing Trust Fund and researching policy changes such as inclusionary zoning and community land trusts that will allow more people to afford their own homes.
- Seasonal Safe Space - The number of people experiencing unsheltered homelessness in our community is on the rise. Recognizing that our current shelter capacity was not enough to meet the need, Rebecca convened colleagues from Ramsey County, Catholic Charities and the St. Paul Foundation to create the Winter Safe Space, now known as the Seasonal Safe Space, an emergency shelter for men and women who would otherwise spend the night in the skyway or on buses and trains. Opened in 2017 with 50 beds, the Winter Safe Space is being expanded this winter to 64 beds and includes case management to help clients connect with longer-term housing.
- Heading Home Ramsey - Homelessness is a complex problem and solving it will require cooperation between governments at many levels, social service providers, the business and philanthropic communities, transit providers and more. Outside-In is a collaboration of those parties that seeks to end unsheltered homelessness in downtown Saint Paul. Rebecca serves on the governance committee of Outside-In and has supported the group in its efforts to add street outreach workers and to involve the State of Minnesota in developing a regional strategy to prevent and end homelessness, since no one city can do it alone.