Maplewood Ward 3 candidates answer questions in forum

The candidates for the vacant Maplewood Ward 3 council seat took part in a forum sponsored by the Hadley Township Democratic Club Monday at Schlafly Bottleworks, answering questions from the approximately 60 in attendance. Gina and Nelson Mitten moderated.

In approximately 45 minutes the candidates, Jenny Schmidt, Steve Terelmes and Kristen Spencer took ten questions. The moderators switched around the order of answering so no one had an advantage. The candidates also gave opening and closing remarks, see video of those here.

The special election will be held in Maplewood Ward 3 on August 8.

The questions and answers, below, are summarized, attempting to keep the essence of both.

What would you like to see in Maplewood that’s not already here?

  • Schmidt: Listed many businesses in Maplewood, then said Maplewood already has it all
  • Terelmes: Bed and breakfast, a theater
  • Spencer: Kid-friendly restaurant

Explain your decision-making process, and how you’d research an issue you might be unfamiliar with.

  • Terelmes: Would talk to the city manager, business owners and citizens
  • Spencer: Would talk to her neighbors first and read the meeting agenda, which comes out well before the council meetings to be prepared
  • Schmidt: Talk to residents who might have expertise or connections in the topic

How would you use social justice in your actions in the council?

  • Spencer: Said she is a social worker, it’s what she does. Said she realizes she has privilege, being a white person. Said half of Maplewood’s population are renters — they need to be heard.
  • Schmidt: Said she has volunteered with Americor, said our job is to help those in need.
  • Terelmes: Said justice means more than mercy. Asked what role government has in social justice.

How would you work to increase racial equality and diverse voices?

  • Schmidt: Talk to groups who work with the community, also, ordinances need to be written fairly, some municipal processes have unintended consequences.
  • Terelmes: Said we can’t legislate morality. Said he has a plan that wouldn’t cost Maplewood any money, and would talk more about it Tuesday (July 25) at his Muddled Pig get-together.
  • Spencer: Said racial inequality needs to be recognized, and start communications about it in a safe place. The Ferguson study could have ideas.

What is your vision to develop Maplewood’s business to the east and west?

  • Terelmes: Said he was engaged in the development process when he moved in. Encourage boutique businesses to come in to Maplewood.
  • Spencer: Embrace Maplewood’s two Metrolink stops, getting to them by foot or bike is difficult. Not every business will be a boutique business — Maplewood has leverage and should use it to encourage bigger businesses to comply with our wishes, such as in architecture, plantings, and ADA compliance.
  • Schmidt: Established businesses are to the east — make more of a continuation there from the center of town. There’s more opportunity for bigger businesses to the west. Maplewood is at a crossroads — do we want to be a big business town?

What to do with the approximately $400,000 per year Maplewood will receive from Prop P?

  • Spencer: Reach out to the community to see what is wanted.
  • Terelmes: Maplewood is old, we need to update its infrastructure.
  • Schmidt: Hire a social worker, which would ultimately help reduce crime, and also improve police training.

Two to three most important issues in Maplewood?

  • Schmidt: Improved communications; improve the nuisance ordinance so an occupancy permit isn’t used as a weapon against residents; overhaul ordinances so they don’t discriminate; update the comprehensive plan.
  • Spencer: Better community involvement; work with seniors to improve resources to keep them in their homes — information about these resources can be free.
  • Terelmes: Provide options to help seniors stay in their homes; review ordinances.

How to increase transparency in Maplewood government

  • Spencer: City officials could meet groups of residents in city parks; expand the Maple Leaf, which is mailed to all residents.
  • Terelmes: Voter participation is important; hearing residents is important, but some residents are more opinionated than others.
  • Schmidt: Better transparency in the governing process is needed; improve the city website – some links don’t work.

Thoughts on using tax increment financing (TIFs) for commercial development

  • Terelmes: There’s a time and a place for TIFs, Maplewood doesn’t need it as much as it used to, Maplewood did a fantastic job developing its northwest corner
  • Schmidt: Has seen the good it can do, but can be abused, may not be necessary now
  • Spencer: Has its place but maybe not needed now

Thoughts on the proposal to combine the fire department joint command structure

  • Schmidt: Not opposed to it if it can save resources and money, and services don’t suffer.
  • Terelmes: Wouldn’t want to tell a battalion chief he’s being demoted — for preserving jobs and pensions.
  • Spencer: Duplication of jobs doesn’t benefit anyone, but wants to make sure jobs aren’t lost; would like to talk to other departments about it.

See also: (candidates listed below in ballot order)

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