Candidate Sustainability Q&A: Randy Stille

Note: The general election is November 5, 2019 and St. Anthony polls are open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

In person Absentee voting begins Friday, September 20th and ends on Monday, November 4th at 5pm. You can stop by City Hall during regular business hours and vote absentee. Early voting begins Tuesday, October 29th and ends on Monday, November 4th.

St. Anthony Village

Citizens for Sustainability asked the 2020 mayoral and city council candidates six questions about their ideas for advancing sustainability within St. Anthony. Their responses will be posted as they are received.

1. What does Sustainability mean to you (as it pertains to St. Anthony)?

Good questions were asked as a part of this exercise. It is important to be reminded that no one person can implement a program or practice. However, the mayor can be a conduit to bring people together and encourage creativity both from residents and staff, as we evaluate sustainable opportunities of all kinds that will make St. Anthony an even better place to live.

A little background about sustainability in St. Anthony may be helpful to know. As a city council, we have encouraged the use of the three “E’s”, as it pertains to sustainability: economic, equity, and environmental. Economic sustainability simply means that we need to have our house in order financially into the future, which provides the groundwork to invest in our community. Equity sustainability means that we foster an environment where all people have equal opportunities at succeeding within our city. Environmental sustainability means that we are stewards of our resources, making sure that we can sustain into the future.

With this as a backdrop, the word “sustainability” was added to our mission statement in 2012. Relating to environmental sustainability, St. Anthony has embraced the MPCA’s Greenstep program, being among the first cities in the state to reach Greenstep level 5, the highest designation. The efforts that staff and council have put in to sustainability efforts are vast. From our water reuse facility, our storm water filtration project, ongoing street sweeping program, solar initiatives, organized garbage collection, and more, we have been recognized by our peers as being a leader in sustainability efforts (2016 Sustainable City Award winner).

2. What initiatives in the city’s Comprehensive Plan would you prioritize to create greater resilience and sustainability?

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3. How would you build on recent additions in the Parks & Environmental Commission duties to advance environmental goals in the Comprehensive Plan?

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4. What “win-win” opportunities do you see in supporting existing and future sustainability initiatives?

Looking forward, we have great opportunities to build on our strengths and what has already been accomplished. We need to do this as a community, and education will be paramount as we evaluate sustainability-based opportunities and initiatives. A mayor can have all of the best ideas, but if the residents are not along for the ride, the ideas will fall flat. Some sustainability initiatives may be controversial and we need to listen, gauge, and balance the communities wants and needs, evaluating both positive and negative impacts. This may mean more task forces, open houses, or public meetings that can be used to bring sustainability initiatives forward.

Another critical element to success is leadership. It is necessary for your mayor and council to have a stewardship mentality as they govern, leading by example. Over the years, St. Anthony has developed a culture of sustainability, starting at leadership, which has permeated its way to staff and residents. Sustainability has been fostered because of trust. A trusting staff will spur creativity. It will encourage staff to hire the next GreenCorp member, to figure out the next step in organics recycling, or electric-vehicle stations, or bike path expansion. Conversely, lack of trust will quash innovation.

5. What would you do to address residents’ concerns about pedestrian and bicycle safety and increase access to metro bikeways?

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6. What are steps you would support to expand on the success of St. Anthony’s organics drop-off collection?

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In conclusion, thank you for the opportunity you have given me to weigh in on the vital role of sustainability in St. Anthony. We are caretakers of this earth and I am thankful that St. Anthony has taken this responsibility seriously. This will continue to take a communal effort and I wholeheartedly plan to foster creativity and innovation both from residents and city staff.

By Dan Kunitz

Dan Kunitz is a Minnesota native interested in decarbonization. He is a business analyst at the University of Minnesota and volunteers his website and design skills to Citizens for Sustainability.

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