About Councilmember Stark
Russ Stark was born in White Plains, New York, but his family moved to Las Vegas, Nevada when he was baby. Russ grew up in Las Vegas, where his father worked as a substance abuse counselor and his mother as a social worker. He lived in Vegas until he went away for college, after graduating as valedictorian from Chaparral High School. Russ is a graduate of Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in political science. He chose Swarthmore after being awarded a Eugene Lang Scholarship for public service, which allowed him to work as a community organizer in nearby Chester, Pennsylvania. He worked with this low-income, predominantly African-American community to fight the siting of highly-polluting, waste-based industries directly adjacent to a residential neighborhood, and to highlight the impacts on community health.
After college, Russ worked for two years at a nonprofit environmental advocacy organization, the Clean Air Council, in Philadelphia. He was awarded a national Truman Scholarship, and used it to go back to school for a Master’s degree in Urban Affairs and Public Policy from the University of Delaware. Before taking office, Russ worked for University UNITED, a nonprofit coalition of residents and businesses that promotes transit-oriented development along University Avenue. At UNITED, he was involved for several years in community economic development and community-based planning work, working with area businesses and residents on crime prevention programs, administering a loan/grant program for small businesses on the Avenue, participating in planning for the Central Corridor light rail project, and coordinating job fairs. Russ later directed the Midway Transportation Management Organization (TMO), working to improve opportunities for transit use, bicycling, and walking in St. Paul.
Russ lives in Hamline-Midway with his wife Betsy Murray, and children Isaac and Abbey. The Murray-Starks have lived in the neighborhood since 1999. The Murray-Starks are a one-car household, and many days the car stays at home while Russ walks, bikes, or takes the Green Line to work, and Betsy rides the Green Line to her office at the U. Russ enjoys reading, playing basketball, cooking, traveling, walking, biking, and spending time with his family.