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How City Policy Gets Made With Kathy Lantry & Amy Brendmoen

Kathy Lantry and Amy Brendmoen collectively spent three decades on Saint Paul City Council, each serving as Council President for part of that time. We get their insider perspective about the process of how policy gets made and budgets set, how things changed as more women joined the council, and what they wish they had more time to accomplish.

Attributions

Our theme song is Tanz den Dobberstein, and our interstitial song is Puck’s Blues. Both tracks used by permission of their creator, Erik Brandt. Find out more about his band, The Urban Hillbilly Quartet, on their website.

This episode was produced by Sherry Johnson, edited by Parker Seaman aka Strongthany, and hosted and transcribed by Ian R Buck. We’re always looking to feature new voices on the show, so if you have ideas for future episodes, drop us a line at podcast@streets.mn.

Transcript

[00:00:00] Amy: We watched the inauguration and seven women walked in. I mean, tears just flew out of my face. It was the most, it was like a bouquet of beautiful humans on stage, and that was not by accident. You know, it was a lot of work by those candidates and by the people who came before them. It was tremendous.

[00:00:19] Ian: Welcome to the Streets.mn Podcast, the show where we highlight how transportation and land use can make our communities better places. Coming to you from beautiful Seward, Minneapolis, Minnesota. I’m your host, Ian R Buck. We like to talk on this show about awesome projects that our cities are doing, but just as important is how those projects get decided.

Our producer, Sherry Johnson, was really interested in this topic and she brings to us two awesome guests who have a lot of experience with how things happen in St. Paul City Hall. Kathy Lantry was on City Council for 17 years, 11 of those years as council president, and she was director of Public Works for five years, and Amy Brendmoen was on city council for 12 years, 6 of which were as council president.

Now as we were doing the math on all of this just now, Kathy and Amy were both surprised that the overlap in their time on the council was only three years. So could the two of you share some significant memories from that time?

[00:01:21] Kathy: This is Kathy. I think for me, the first six years I was on the council, I was the only woman.

So when Amy got elected, I was like, oh my gosh, I get a girlfriend. And, and part of it was because I come from a very maternal background. You know, a strong mom, strong grandma, sort of women were in the lead. And so it was very difficult for me to serve for all those years basically by myself because I was, I was much more used to, sort of that female companionship

[00:01:54] Amy: Right. And I think that when you, like when you said that when I started, I felt like I had immediately had a friend and I, I came from outside of politics, so at first I was like, what does she want from me? And it took about five minutes to realize nothing. You know, she want, she, of course we are always looking for allies and partners to do the work, but I think just having a partner was huge.

So when you think about that amount of time we mentioned when we stepped in the door today that not only did we serve together, but we’ve become lifelong Being in the grind and then, taking it out to the coast and, and other places has been a joy.

[00:02:28] Sherry: That’s wonderful. What’s a, do what’s another memory that you have particularly of something that happened in council?

Is there anything you remember from a policy session or a public process?

[00:02:40] Kathy: I think there were certainly some stressful times during that. I can’t think of any specific issue that comes to mind. What I remember from certainly those three years, but then even after that, even as Public Works director and now as you know, as a retiree with Amy as a friend, it’s just that that really important piece of support and.

You know, talking to some of the new council members, it’s like, get yourself a really good colleague. And for me, uh, you know, Jay Benanav was a huge colleague for me, um, and he was very supportive. There. Again, because of my background, I think having that female influence and women do things differently

[00:03:21] Sherry: mm

[00:03:21] Kathy: than men do, in my opinion, especially in politics.

At least that was my experience. And so for me it was just having that 100% support. Like, I didn’t have to worry that Amy was gonna talk smack about me.

[00:03:36] Amy: And the other thing, like when you talk about a specific thing, you know, our agendas sometimes have 168 items on them, and the, the trauma and drama that comes in and out week by week is real.

And it’s that then and there. Mm-Hmm. But I think both of us are very much like forward looking folks. And so a lot of times people will say, what’s the worst thing or what’s the best thing? And I’m like, I don’t know. It was just great, you know? And some days were rough and at the end of the day, you all, you could.

The best you could do is make it home, find a martini, and, um, but, but in, when it comes to specific things, I think it’s just more of the collective experience of just, it’s, it’s such a stimulating and inspiring job. Nice.

[00:04:14] Sherry: All right. Let’s talk about. The stuff of council and how it happens. Um, I’d pitched this, uh, episode to Ian originally as "how the sausage gets made."

Um, and this can be some, you can think about this as advice for people who want to run for office or who just got into office. So let’s say the two of you are commissioned to a city level schoolhouse rock project. You have to make this little cartoon video. What goes into that video?

[00:04:38] Amy: I mean, it’s a great idea.

Schoolhouse Rock is basically how I learned everything when I was growing up. So I appreciate the question. Um, and I, one thing to keep in mind, especially in St. Paul and I think Minneapolis to a certain degree now that things have changed, um, is that the council, when you said the word council staff, um, it’s good to understand that the council really doesn’t have this kind of staff that I think people think that they do. Yeah. We have a council team, but basically each council office has an executive assistant who really handles your scheduling and then one legislative aid. And so people have this idea, you know, they come to you with their grandiose ideas or their plan and think that you’re just gonna have your squad take care of it or put it together.

And I think the first thing to keep in mind is that, that this is local level, ground level politics, and that the work has to happen somewhere. Mm-Hmm. And so like if you have an idea that you wanna see. Grow. Um, you have to take all the steps yourself, you know, get the support, get the buy-in, um, come up with a plan, how do you wanna move it forward?

And then come talk to your council member and get their buy-in. And it, it’s really, I people want things resolved like in a minute and it really, I think just kind of putting on your patience helmet and knowing that it’s gonna take a while to get something done, it would be the key part of my schoolhouse rock.

[00:05:48] Ian: But you don’t, you’re not saying that you expect community members to write the legalese of like a thing that’s gonna be voted on, right?

[00:05:55] Amy: No, I think that’s a good, we actually, sometimes when I get frustrated at, at, when I was trying to write policy, we, I would just write it just to bother the city attorney’s office so that they would do it.

They’re like, no, no, no. You can’t write this. We’ll write it. No, definitely not. I don’t think that that’s, um. Advisable, but rather to be clear, what is the, what is the problem you’re trying to solve? Um, how do you suggest that we solve it, recognizing that there might be more than one way to solve a problem.

And also, um, I think when I talk about building the support, it’s like, is it just something that bugs you? Mm-Hmm. Or is it, or is it really something that is gonna impact the greater good? And, and I think that that’s. For us as a balancing act is like what is gonna benefit the city of St. Paul in the big picture and how in our community, Mm-Hmm, sure.

Kathy, how about you? What would you make sure got in that video about the how-tos?

[00:06:38] Kathy: Well, I think patience, which I am, I am bad at, because I always thought, I mean, how hard could it be? So I was looking through some, some old things and recounted a story that I think. Puts a fine point on it. Actually, in Ward 7, there was a sidewalk that wasn’t shoveled and it was right off the corner of McKnight and Burns.

And so, you know, I got a constituent call. Somebody said, you know, I, I live in McKnight Village Apartments. I walked to 3M, the sidewalk isn’t shoveled. It’s like, well, for goodness sakes, of course that should be shoveled. So how hard could it be? Well, it turns out that, um, McKnight is a county road. On the west side, it is St. Paul on the east side. It’s Maplewood. It happened to be underneath a freeway overpass. So the state plows the road that puts the snow on the sidewalk, which meant it was supposed to be the state. It’s adjacent to Holiday Inn, but they, it wasn’t their responsibility. This simple question of how do we get the sidewalk shoveled?

I finally said to my husband, oh. We’re gonna load up our snowblower and just go do it, because there was no easy answer. And things that seem easy, I mean, that’s just like a microcosm of what can happen. Things that look easy are complicated and take way longer than you think. Maybe they’re like home improvement projects.

I don’t know. Yeah.

[00:08:03] Sherry: Yeah. So it sounds like you sometimes will write legislation or write something for the code yourselves, um, just to bug the city attorney’s office, you said. But does that usually come from staff? Um, did they write things and then you pass it to the city attorney? How does that just practical process work?

[00:08:22] Amy: Generally, it comes from staff and staff work in concert with the the city attorney’s office. Oh, okay. Initiatives can be led by the council or can be led by the mayor’s office. They’re often more successful and move more quickly if they’re led by the mayor’s office. Mm. You know, perhaps the council would do some community engagement or something that leads up to a request for a policy, or we ask about parking minimums or something and the staff will do a study, look into it and come back to us with legislation.

[00:08:47] Sherry: Yeah. Ian, I think, uh, Ian and I have talked about the strong mayor, weak mayor system, especially in the last, you know, little bit here as Minneapolis switches over. Yeah. Do you wanna ask about that?

[00:08:57] Ian: Yeah. So like the, the narrative that I’ve heard from some. Folks who live over here in Minneapolis is like, they, they felt that the strength of like the weak mayor system was that it forced a lot of conversations to happen out in the open and that like, that the community was then invited, maybe not invited, but like, could be a part of the conversation.

Right. And, and the sense was that, oh, in the, in the St. Paul Strong mayor system, the mayor decides that this is a. Thing that they want, that his office wants to pursue, and then like kind of moves forward until like, obviously the city council has to vote on it, but the city council isn’t the driving force behind it.

So I wanted to, yeah, see like what your perspectives are on, like what is the push and pull factors of things and like who gets invited to the table in like the strong mayor system?

[00:09:44] Kathy: Well, I think a, a good example when I got elected in ’98, uh, norm Coleman was mayor at the time, and, you know, I was new to the council, although I, I mean my, both my mom and dad had worked as.

Legislative aids for council members. I mean, I, I sort of knew the job, certainly thought I knew the system. And I remember the very first budget cycle back in 1998, the city was awash with money, right. LGA was guaranteed. It went up to – local government aid – went up 2% a year.

[00:10:18] Ian: Is that like the state giving aid to – yes, okay.

[00:10:20] Kathy: Yeah, and it was, I mean, it was money you could count on. How did, how did Norm keep taxes low? Well, the state basically gave what money would have come from property taxpayers, um, property owners in the city. So, you know, at the end of while we were going through budget, the council. Added things, oh, we wanna add this many staff to do this job.

Here are the things that we wanna expand. I mean, I felt at the end of the budget, I’m like, woo, wow, that was so good. I’m, I’m really rocking this job. And then, you know, fast forward, you know, several months later and I thought, well, where is that extra staff? Mm-Hmm. That we put in. And I asked the question and then found out the very stunning answer that I had no idea.

It’s like, well, just because you put the money in the budget doesn’t mean the mayor has to spend it.

Right? Same sort of thing. So the council, I have always thought most of the council’s power lies in the budget because it does. It’s how you really sort of set your priorities. But unless you have a mayor that you can work with, good luck with that.

Mm-Hmm. Because if they choose not to spend that money, then um, all your grand ideas are for naught.

[00:11:29] Amy: Moving that forward. So I noticed when Kathy was council president and when Russ was council president, that one of the. Patterns that we had fallen into is that the mayor would present a budget to the city council.

And the city council would do, as you said, like go along and make tweaks and changes to it. And then we would end up in like a bloody knuckles fight at the end. The council members against council members for like $20,000. mm-Hmm. Oh my goodness. And it was just. And it was like, we are spending so much energy fighting each other that is genius of a mayor to do to us.

And so we, we flipped the process and worked together early in the year when I was council president to create a memo that said, these are our guiding principles. Here are the things that we collectively wanna see in the budget to put the mayor’s office then more on the defense side, so like when the budget came out, they couldn’t say.

"Well, we didn’t know that you wanted that." Right? And so then we were, we were negotiating in the millions instead of in the tens of thousands. Mm-Hmm. And two things happened from that. One is we were much more effective in the budget process, but we also really work together. To get back to your question, I think the strength of the council in a strong mayor system is unity.

And that means you have to figure out that push pull between each other. Um, does that mean that. Some gritty conversations don’t happen in public maybe, but I guess like, I don’t necessarily think that adds value, you know? Mm-Hmm. I, I definitely think that it’s good to grind the sausage and to go through those, you know, have those conversations.

But sometimes I feel like when it’s too negative and too raucous in public, people lose faith in the government I famously heard and,

[00:13:07] Ian: And in their fellow citizens sometimes. Yeah. Yeah. When you see somebody stand up and say, like, the wildest. Things. Yeah. Yeah.

[00:13:13] Amy: Well, and I, and in a council chamber, one of the problems is people, they’ll say something as fact, and then as council president, you have to decide how much time you wanna spend refuting facts.

Yeah. Mm-Hmm. Oh, wow. And, and what you let stand and what you, you know, and, and there I feel like that’s quite problematic about public hearings. ’cause it’s like, I’m not gonna go back and forth here, but that does mean that it’s out in the world as fact when Mm-Hmm. Um, you know, I’ve heard. How many people say, I’m a homeowner so I’m paying taxes and they don’t wanna therefore fund a bike lane.

And it’s like, what makes you think bike riders don’t own homes? Right. Or the rent. What makes you think that renters aren’t paying property taxes? Right. It’s just like weird stuff like that, but you Right, right. So I don’t necessarily feel like that’s the great policymaking place. That is how our council, I think, took advantage of the strong mayor system or took charge of it from our side.

Mm-Hmm.

[00:14:00] Ian: And I do remember early in the like budget. You know, discussion process like St. Paul City Council hosted a night where like we all gathered, we saw a presentation about like the proposed budget, and then we split off into rooms in each of our wards and had groups of people talking with their city council member. That felt like I was like, oh, I get to be a part of this conversation and like talk directly to the one person out of this, you know, this is, this is my window into the interior machinations of City Hall.

[00:14:33] Amy: Yeah. And a lot of people showed up for that. It was pretty cool.

[00:14:36] Ian: There were cookies, they were really good. This is true.

[00:14:38] Sherry: Wait, were they actually free though? Yeah. Wow.

[00:14:41] Ian: Well. Paid for by your tax levy.

[00:14:44] Amy: That’s right. Thanks for the clarification. Yeah. That was a response to one thing that we’re required by the law to do is, uh, the truth in taxation hearing. Okay. Which is like, it’s the worst because it’s required by the state law and it has to come, it has to come after the propo, like after you’ve set the maximum or the levy limit.

Okay. And then. But one week before you pass the final budget, it has to be that time. And people come and they’re, this is, they’re, it’s been noticed and it’s on your property tax statement. And you, so people fill up the room to yell at you about the budget. And by that time, it’s too late. It’s too late. It, everything’s been decided.

We can’t figure things out in one week, but you have to have this required thing. Mm-Hmm. So as council, we were like, this is. It’s not, it’s, I hate processes that make people disenfranchised. Mm. Right. So we instead, after the mayor gave his budget address, we had a, let’s respond to this and get together in our words and figure out what do we hear, what do we not hear early in the process?

So that when we came to Truth in Taxation, we could say we did listen to people in August. Mm-Hmm mm-Hmm. And we’ve been working it publicly since then. And this is a required hearing. Thanks for being here. Yeah. And you’re right, nothing’s gonna change. So.

[00:15:57] Ian: So this is a good Yeah. Transition into talking about like, like how can advocates approach this process in an effective way?

You know, like I’ve been listening to the audiobook of The Power Broker and hearing about all the ways that like, oh yeah, like if you wanted to be big in, in New York politics in the 1920s, you just needed to like, you know. Take, take whoever who was in power out to like play billiards and then like, you know, you’re best friends now and you get to influence them in whatever ways you see fit.

I hope that that’s not the case anymore, but like what, what advice do you have for people who want to come to city council and have a thing that, you know, hopefully they’ve built a coalition around it, but how do they work with, you know, the city council?

[00:16:40] Kathy: Well, I think. One of the best examples of advocacy that year after year after year, gets things done and makes the city a better place. Are friends of the St. Paul Library.

[00:16:51] Sherry: Mm-Hmm.

[00:16:51] Kathy: And they had such a formula, which I think other cities have tried to replicate. And it’s just, it’s not always easy to do because they are a very unique group. Um, they had a, a long time leader, um, who really figured out how to build relationships with council members, and they were always incredibly clear about what their ask was, which was always, you know, they didn’t say, we want you to invest all of the city’s, you know, increase in property taxes into the libraries.

They, they asked for things that made sense for the library system that would enhance the user’s experience in the library. They always came with money that went with it, and I, I don’t think that, you know, advocates don’t necessarily need to do that when you’re doing policy. But the other thing is they always brought residents who lived in your ward.

Mm. And so you were talking to people. I mean, I can still remember they bought Mary Roach from St. Pascal, so I would see her in church on Saturday night, and then Monday morning she’d be in my office. I mean, they, they were really masterful about finding people who truly believed in the cause, and then they always came with a little handout that said, here’s what we would like.

Here’s what we will do for you. And then they had the strength of a very large coalition behind them. It was incredibly effective. People wanted to help them because they always came to the table with something and realized that bringing constituents in was not a bad move either. Mm-Hmm.

[00:18:27] Amy: I was gonna say the city council specifically, but I also would say our county commissioners and our local elected officials are all very accessible and approachable.

Mm-Hmm. And I think that building. Real relationships with your elected officials is, is crucial because none of us are uncomfortable disagreeing. I mean, it’s, you can come with your idea and we cannot agree, but I may make a better decision because of the input that I got from somebody. And if I, if it’s a person that I’ve had an ongoing kind of dialogue with.

I find that I lean on them for advice and support. ’cause I, you can’t know everything, right? You just can’t. So who’s my go-to person when it comes to this? Who’s my go-to person? And they, they also have to be people who will tell you, here’s what I think, here’s what you might hear in opposition so that you’re prepared for what you might hear in opposition, but somebody who can give you the full picture.

And I think just like making that investment in time, even if it’s just an occasional email. Mm-Hmm. I mean, I did lake laps. I, I figured out, I did a. Thousand miles of walking around Cooma Lake with people over 12 years, huh? Just one and a half miles at a time. Um, but people came with their big ideas or their, you know, concerns or their thoughts and we would walk and talk and those relationships are put my hand on my heart, like they’re with me forever.

And when those people reach out with like requests or an ask, like they’re folks that I’m like, oh, I know this person. I know what they care about and I am, you know, I wanna see if I can help them. So I think that building those authentic relationships and all. I mean the, the representatives, the senators, the county commissioners, the council members in Minneapolis, St.

Paul area, and even that metro around, they really care and they wanna do a good job.

[00:20:02] Ian: Mm-Hmm. Yeah. While you were talking about the friends of the libraries. Mm-Hmm. It, it did occur to me that building a coalition that is citywide to support, you know, libraries has gotta be so much easier than in. Any other constituency in the Twin Cities where the rest of us have our county level library systems.

And so reaching out to people throughout Hennepin County and trying to build that coalition has gotta be so much tougher. Yeah, I would think so. Yeah. Yeah.

[00:20:29] Amy: I mean, also. Everyone loves libraries. Oh yeah. I mean there’s, they have a lot of things going their way, let’s be honest.

[00:20:35] Kathy: They do. Yeah, they do. It’s hard to say, oh, who cares about libraries?

I mean, free books, whatever. I mean, I absolutely, they’re an easy organization to love. But remember during budget times, council members will hear from every union in the city. Talking about making sure that their voice is heard. You know, what are you gonna do for police? What are you gonna do for fire? What about AFSCME? Right? They, everybody has an ask. Mm-Hmm. So you really need to figure out. How, what to say yes to and how to make those decisions. Because as I would remind some of the people who came to see me, it’s like I get that your one perspective is to get your members more money. Mm. I have to balance that between 13 city departments.

[00:21:21] Amy: Remember you said that one time at someone in spec, like specifically at the council table, and I was like, yes, Kathy’s a baddy,

[00:21:31] Ian: so. That’s another great segue into let’s talk about city services because I mean, the municipality serves a lot of purposes, but like providing particular services is a major one.

So where do you think our cities really excel at, like providing a service? Which, which area do you think we’re doing really, really well in?

[00:21:49] Amy: I mean the cities are really, I think, the most functional form of government right now. I can’t speak for Minneapolis, but we, on the way over here, we were talking about how, I mean, obviously our library system is so strong.

Um, we have a wonderful police department there. Anytime you do research about like what, you know, how do you get ahead of the curve with policing? St. Paul is at the front of the row. Our fire department is well respected across the state. We were even saying our parks, the mentoring, the right track, the um, we just got rid of all fees for youth sports and the numbers just flew like we’re I.

Feel like in so many ways, the, the, the basic city services, we’re nailing it. The, the trouble is obviously funding. When we look at, I’m, I’m, you’re gonna talk about public works. I, I used leave that window. I just wanna be too parochial. But, you know, things, things do interfere with the flow of, uh, actually I’ll just say this, this year has been really interesting with no snow.

Mm-Hmm. And without the freeze thaw. Um, cycles because I can tell that our city departments without even being there, have had a chance to finally get caught up. Yep. There’s not covid, there’s not civil unrest, there’s not the weird weather, and so that, that, all of a sudden you can feel that like collective relief.

So I think that when thing is, there’s always something flying at you, but when you have a little bit of a breath, you can really see all of the, the cogs in the machine running well.

[00:23:13] Kathy: Well, and yesterday was the State of the City. And so I went and one of the things that the mayor talked about, so I, I ran into my successor, um, Sean Kershaw, the head of public works now, and he said, he goes, "you’re gonna hear about some new ways of doing snowplowing."

And I went, that is so great. And this winter was exactly that. It gave people. Time to say, you know, why are we doing the same thing the same way? And I think, and the mayor really, really pushes that as well. And so, sort of trying something new when you have time to do it. Resources are always an issue, and that’s why the 1 cent sales tax, what’s, what’s the, "the common cent"?

"The common cent," which I love with all my heart and soul is a way to do some of that funding where you’re not competing. With, does the, does the library need a new roof or can we buy a new plow? Right. Some of those conversations can now be advanced because there’s a specific funding source for both parks and public works, which I think will, um, free up a lot of creativity because I know in my five years there talking to those employees, it.

And so many times it just broke my heart. ’cause they’re like, you want us to do a better job? Here’s what we need. It’s just, it’s, it’s, I’m so sorry. It’s not in the budget, right? Specialized plows, extra money for salt, hiring more employees. Those sorts of things are so incredibly expensive. And again, you know, taking this year out of the mix, you know, how many times do you need?

That many plows

[00:24:55] Ian: would you say that we took this year out of the hot mix?

[00:24:59] Kathy: Right. I wonder if if the asphalt plants ever even closed. I think it did, but I probably wouldn’t have had to. Mm-Hmm. So I think public works, and quite frankly, even public employees are just such an easy mark in this day and age for people to complain about.

When I think about customer service, just in general, anywhere I go. I’m not particularly thrilled, but when your taxpayers are paying for it, then it somehow gets ramped up. I had always said what I’d like to do is take the city portion of somebody’s property taxes. Right. I. It’s like in on your average home, you give the city $1,500 of that $1,500.

Do you understand that? 80, it’s probably 85% now goes to police and fire.

[00:25:45] Ian: Hmm.

[00:25:46] Kathy: So the other 15% of $1,500 goes to public works and libraries and parks. I mean, when you think of it that way, if you really break it down for folks. I think you can advance the conversation more, and I think there is, quite frankly, what does the city do well? Lots of things.

[00:26:06] Sherry: Mm-Hmm.

[00:26:07] Kathy: We, there’s always, always, always room for improvement, but when you break it down that way and where does the money go, I think people would be amazed at what gets done with the resources that are given.

[00:26:19] Ian: Yeah. Yeah. And, and just thinking about it in terms of like, oh. Is this a subscription service that I would, you know, be interested in, you know, $1,500 for all of the things that you get from living in a city?

Uh, yeah. Uhhuh. Yeah.

[00:26:33] Sherry: Maybe we need to start billing it that way. Right? This is your subscription service for police, fire and all the things you want.

So what is. The biggest frustration that you have had as council president.

You have named a lot, but specifically as president, what was really tough about that for each of you?

[00:26:55] Kathy: You know what I think it is, I, at least the way I think each council president does it differently, which is great. For me, I spent a lot of time sort of making sure that that things ran smoothly so that we were a functional group as a council, and then also had a good working relationship with the mayor and department heads.

Really the only way anything gets accomplished in – certainly in St. Paul, but probably everywhere is if people work together, all of the different branches need to work together to get something done. And so for me, I spent a lot of my time doing those things when I could have spent more time just saying, what exactly should I be working on for Ward 7?

You know, we always had our list of things that we wanted to accomplish, but then you know, a crisis would come forward that you had to deal with. And so things got put on the back burner where other council offices did not have to do that at, at least in my time, a lot of that fell on me and I took it on.

It wasn’t that people expected that of me. I also took it on, so you know, it’s, I. Synergy. Mm-Hmm.

[00:28:06] Amy: Or, But Russ said the same thing. Like, Russ, this is Russ Stark. Yeah. He, he was like, just ’cause you’re good at something doesn’t mean you necessarily like doing it. And he, he had lots of things he wanted to do in Ward 4, but, and when you’re in the council president role, you end up doing a lot of that.

And on the way over, I said to Kathy, I, one of the lines that I use is like, it’s, it’s not a lot of fun holding down the seats in the grandstand. Mm-Hmm. Um, when. Somebody knows that the votes are there to get something passed that they want. We even had a council colleague who would say like, "well, I hope this passes, but I can’t vote for it for these reasons."

And it’s like, I don’t really think you can say both of those things in the same sentence. Mm-Hmm. But, okay. Mm-Hmm. But, but you know, the, the frustrating part about moving forward, the right policy, a good policy or the necessary policy while others, you know, on your, on the. Council take advantage of that opportunity to get a soundbite, to get in the paper, to have something to put on their social media to honk about.

And everyone does their, their you do you. But I think that when you have your eyes on the prize and you’re really working for, um, improving the city and the community and run into that, it, it, it is, it’s frustrating. And to Kathy’s point, it, it’s a time suck and an energy sap. Mm-Hmm.

[00:29:25] Kathy: Well, and it also goes back to the advocacy part, whether it’s within council or an outside group.

You can’t just come and say what’s wrong with something. You be part of the solution. So you don’t like that. What would you do? I mean, I remember saying that a lot as council president during budget. It’s like, well, I don’t think we should spend the money on this, or I wanna spend more money on that. It’s like.

Excellent. I’m with you. What do you want to cut to do? So, because we’re not printing money in the back room, so if you don’t like where the money is being spent, you can’t make new stuff. So what are you gonna take out? Advocates need to come with solutions, right? Council members. Colleagues need to come up with those solutions as well.

You can’t just be the person who says, I don’t like it.

[00:30:11] Amy: And votes. You, if you’re just there to say that you don’t like it, to your point, get the, come up with an idea and then get your votes behind you. Mm-Hmm. Because that’s how the process works. So I think when it’s like kind of taking advantage of the process, not doing the work, but then taking the opportunity to use the microphone to make your statement

[00:30:31] Kathy: sort of like pay raises.

Right. The city actually, the city council’s salary was in charter for the first six years I was there. It was capped at $30,000. Holy, my cow. Well, yeah, I, I said I was gonna have to report myself to wage an hour ’cause I was working for less than minimum wage. Right. Because, you know, your health insurance costs went up, everything else went up.

But the council salary. Stayed stagnant. Mm-hmm. And so before he left, Chris Coleman changed the ordinance and people had to vote on that so that the city council would make half the wage of the mayor, which I still don’t know. You know, I guess it was sort of what was palatable at the time. But you know, there were people who voted against it and I remember saying, well then I hope you’re not gonna take it.

Because some of us took the hard vote to say, yes, I’m working very hard for at this job. I think my salary should be at least a little. Commensurate with the work that I’m doing.

[00:31:31] Ian: Yeah. And I, and I, I think that a lot of people don’t think of it in terms of when you have a, an elected position that has a really low salary, then like what you are guaranteeing is that the only people who are going to run for that are like independently wealthy and don’t have to worry about having that income.

Right. And so then you are cutting off. That opportunity from probably a lot of people who you would like to see in that office. So, yeah. Um, sometimes people have to have that vision.

[00:32:01] Amy: Oh, absolutely. And I would, I would just say like maybe not independently wealthy, like, ’cause if you look around the council

[00:32:07] Ian: Sure, yeah, yeah, yeah.

[00:32:08] Amy: But just, you know, to have some sort of stability. Yeah. Um,

[00:32:12] Ian: external support.

[00:32:13] Amy: Yeah.

[00:32:13] Kathy: Yeah.

[00:32:13] Amy: You know, whether it’s a partner or

[00:32:16] Kathy: I could not have done this job without my husband. Never in a million years. I mean, and part of it is because he’s the one who made money. I mean, I didn’t make any money. Right. And, you know, two kids and I was never home at night meetings and whatnot.

[00:32:33] Sherry: Yeah. That’s rough.

[00:32:35] Kathy: I, right. Like who will run for these seats is somebody who’s got at least two people.

[00:32:42] Ian: Mm-Hmm.

[00:32:43] Kathy: And there’s plenty of people who have had the job who are married and it doesn’t work out that way. Right. I mean, I, I was, I, I am lucky, right? My husband was like, no, you go ahead.

[00:32:56] Ian: So, Kathy, you mentioned like having priorities, having things that you wanted to pursue, but then like, you know, a crisis comes up and you have to deal with other things.

What is the, the one thing that you wish that you had had time for during your time? Mm-Hmm. On the city council, what’s the one thing that got away?

[00:33:13] Kathy: For me, I wish that I would’ve had more time to have better relationships with the businesses in my ward.

[00:33:22] Ian: Hmm.

[00:33:23] Kathy: I mean, really to, to not check in when you heard a rumor that they were moving, but rather to have a relationship with lots and lots of businesses where you knew who the owner was, where you could stop in and just say, "How’s it going?" You know, have a 15 minute check in even so that they recognized you and you recognize them so that if you hear that they wanna expand, but know that they’re landlocked, maybe you can connect to them to the port authority or to the, um, housing and redevelopment authority through the city, whatever it is, I have tried to tell this to other city council candidates. Everybody’s worried about what the levy amount, what percentage you’re raising the levy. It doesn’t matter if you expand the tax base. I mean if you’re, if more people are paying for the levy that you set, you could actually raise the levy and people’s

property taxes would go down because there’s more people paying it. Mm-Hmm.

[00:34:17] Amy: It’s really hard to explain that. Good job. It’s really hard.

[00:34:20] Kathy: Thank you. But I, I, and nobody understands it because it’s counterintuitive. My value went up, therefore my taxes are going up. The mayor raised the property taxes levy 5%, therefore my property taxes will go up 5%.

None of those statements are true, but I think it would have been really cultivating business relationships so that people felt like they could come to the city. And have an entry point that wasn’t scary. I think having more, more time to reach out to those businesses would have been something I really would’ve wanted to do so that the city could assist them in their growth.

[00:34:57] Amy: I love that answer. I would say like, kind of going back to a question you asked earlier and tying it into that, I think one thing the city, our city doesn’t do well is that: we’re good at cutting ribbons on businesses, but not good at maintaining that long-term relationship. And they’re a huge part of our community.

Some businesses are more engaged in like the district council level and they’ll participate, but there’s a lot of folks just doing the grind. Um, and I do feel like in my ward, we had a, a family owned garden store, huge garden store, and one day it closed and I was so sad. Yeah. Um, that we hadn’t had the opportunity to be like, what’s going on here?

Like, is there a way, you know, it was a huge garden store and like subsequently, like could have been maybe like a Hmong Farmers Association could have moved into that space and taken it a different direction. But instead it closed and then, you know, then you, then the ship has sort of sailed and so I feel like there was a huge missed opportunity there and I feel like St. Paul could do a much better job at maintaining those. Maintaining and like running a database of like those ongoing relationships. And I would just say in partnership with that, there’s no way that I could have ever done as much. Community in-reach as I wanted to do. And the best way, and you know this, is door knocking.

Yes. And going door to door to door. And it’s even like when I was campaigning, my literature always had "hello" in different languages. Mm-Hmm. So if all I could do is just point to "hello" and wave and then like leave my information with folks, then at least they saw me and they know that I know that they don’t say "hello" the same way as I do.

And it’s like, okay, we connected. But I feel like if I could have done that. Every week. I would’ve really loved to do that. But you just, there’s not enough time. Mm-Hmm. Um, and not a great way to track that outside of like campaigns. I really wanted, and I, and I know like when Hwa Jeong Kim won in Ward 5, she was like, dang, like the voter to wasn’t like higher.

Like she, and ’cause she is, was so focused on the same thing, like trying to get that engagement. Mm-Hmm. And it’s really hard. Yeah. It’s really, really hard. And so I think that the combination of, so like the more ongoing. Touch with the business community. Mm-Hmm. And also making sure that, um, or trying to spend more time just getting people who typically aren’t enfranchised, um, engaged because those are the places that we need to do the most investing.

Yeah. Yeah.

[00:37:08] Ian: And when you don’t pursue those, uh, relationships with business owners, like sometimes it becomes the big, like narrative about like, here’s the problem with, you know, big government projects like the Green Line, you know, getting built through University Avenue. And the, I I still hear people referring to like, oh yeah, like so many businesses closed down there.

And it’s like, you know, whether that’s true or not, that is the perception that people have. And people think like, oh yeah, like the city, the, the county should be supporting these businesses in more tangible ways. Right?

[00:37:41] Sherry: Those relationships can do a lot of good. Yeah. Yeah, so you were talking about door knocking and supporting the new candidates.

We’ve gotten a lot of press in St. Paul for having an all women city council. Obviously that’s pretty great. Mm-Hmm.

[00:37:55] Ian: I love that it was in the same year that the Barbie movie came out.

[00:38:00] Sherry: So you two had a very different experience. Uh, being on the council as a woman, what are the everyday realities of serving on a decision making body where you are vastly outnumbered by men?

[00:38:12] Kathy: Go ahead, Amy.

[00:38:15] Amy: Well, Kathy mentioned this before about how when I joined the council, like it was interesting to me. We come to the table and like the guys hadn’t even opened their like books. Like we like had done the reading and yes. That’s funny.

[00:38:28] Kathy: Overly prepared.

[00:38:31] Amy: Sure, yeah.

[00:38:32] Ian: I see it in my classroom all the time,

[00:38:35] Amy: I think that’s, that’s generalizations obviously. Um, but I, I think when, so when I started then there was two of us, and then after a while you left to become Public Works director was back to one and it, it’s, it’s a different vibe. We, we decided that we weren’t gonna play by the men’s Playbook in order to be successful as leaders and started trying to drive the bus, like women leaders. Oh. And, and I’ve heard Hwa Jeong and others say like, we began talking this what’s in place now into reality a decade ago. ’cause we’re like, what would it be like? I mean, if all these years where it was all men, it was all women and really being intentional about identifying.

I, one time after a person testified, I went right out in the hall and was like. What’s your name? I went and, and like gave her my card and I said, you should definitely get involved in your community. She just was just, you know, a bright star and I wanted to make sure that women and women of color were represented on the city council, but also on the district council and the planning commission.

So we were intentional about who we put on those who we made recommendations to the mayor’s office who we mentored and groomed. And for me it was one. Then three, then four. When Samantha joined, then, um, Mitra took her place as a permanent member, and so then we, all of a sudden we had Nelsie, and then when I stepped off.

And we watched the inauguration and seven women walked in. I mean, tears just flew out of my face. It was the most, it was like a bouquet of beautiful humans on stage. And that was not by accident. You know, it’s a lot of work by those candidates and by the people who came before them. It was tremendous.

But it was, um, it’s a, I’m sure it’s a much, much different vibe there today than it was. 15 years ago.

[00:40:19] Kathy: Oh my goodness. When I, when I think about, because I, I mean, I don’t look for sexism where it doesn’t exist or any of that. I just think the way decisions are made, like how I approached making a decision and watching how my colleagues made it.

When I started there, we had public hearings on the first and third Wednesdays of the month. They started at 5:30. I’m so glad. Um, so many great changes. When Amy came in, we were always told by the city attorney, read the presentation, but here’s what you need to make the decision and don’t make the decision until the public hearing.

And I remember I totally sat up straighter and listened to that. I was the only one, uh, because I often did not make up my mind. About how I was gonna vote for something until that public hearing. And then I’d watch, you know, somebody pull out a piece of paper and say, I’m gonna vote against this because of the following reasons.

It’s like, come on, you didn’t just write that right. You knew before and you’re supposed to hear people. And so I’m much more of a rule follower and very much more collaborative. I had a colleague who shall remain nameless. After we had went through a very contentious issue, and I sort of did all this silly brokering back and forth, and he said to me, you know, you’re not gonna get credit for that.

And I went, I, I just don’t, you just wanna have it done though. I didn’t care. But that taking credit piece, it’s like, oh my goodness. The, I didn’t think of that. First thing that came to his mind. Mm-Hmm.

[00:41:55] Sherry: Wow.

[00:41:56] Kathy: I, I think approaching the job different. And again, I’m much older than Amy and, and when I think about sort of how I was raised and things like that, part of that has to do with being deferential as a female, even though I was raised in a very strong female household. There were still, you know, men made some of the decisions and whatnot, but I think that collaborative nature is what I really noticed. It’s like, well, let’s work on this together. And it’s like, uh, no. And I, I, I’m like, I that. Really bothered me. I didn’t think it would be like that, I thought would be colleagues.

And I felt, you know, one day crossing over to the other side of the hallway after a meeting in there, they all were sitting together and I thought the girl didn’t get invited. Oh no. And, and right and. Taking that all. So personally, it’s like, no, that’s because the four of them are on that side of the hall.

I’m just gonna let it go. There was a lot of work to be done.

[00:42:47] Amy: But I think that we, but like starting with you and then moving through these years, what we’ve done is taken that, which you could call it like more of this female collaborative, like trying to make everybody happy, type of, maybe that’s where this started, but I think that we took charge of that and as I mentioned, you know, just like, well, we’re good at collaborating and so we’re gonna get in front of this budget process and explain what we’d like to see in the budget. So we took the power in it and I think that kind of Mm-hmm.

And took the credit, and took the credit as a group, you know what I mean? It’s like nobody had to be the superstar, but more just like we, we did this, but I, but I have felt that changing, like taking charge of the way that we want to lead as the, is the standard as opposed to like, I’m gonna try to work around the edges of what’s existing.

[00:43:33] Sherry: Mm. Um, so I have only been a lowly district council rep, and I even know in that space how hard it was to watch a male colleague work with constituent and then me try to work with this constituent. We would say the same things and we would get completely different energy when it came to working even with constituents.

As a woman in politics, what are some things that have impacted your ability to do your job on that side of things?

[00:43:58] Kathy: For me, it actually, Amy, I think you helped me reinforce this. But sort of taking things personally. I remember somebody sent me an email and told me I was fat and ugly. Oh my. And I was a wreck.

Like why did I care that somebody wrote this to me? And all I could think of was, do you think anybody else on the council is getting an email about their physical appearance? I’m guessing no. Mm-Hmm. But somebody, it’s like, let’s see what, we’ll cut the girl to the quick, let’s call her fat. Right. And so having Amy around where she could say, you know what, you’re neither fat nor ugly.

And so, um, moving on. Right. Let it go And, and don’t take it personally. And that is, that is difficult advice to follow. Great to hear. And hopefully as a group, because they will support each other. Mm-Hmm. They’ll be less of that.

[00:44:52] Amy: I think so too. And I also, you’re. I’m seeing less of what you’re describing where it’s sort of like, for us it was three’s company where like, you know, Chrissy or Janet would have a great idea, but then Jack would say it and then everyone be like, well, it’s a great idea.

Right. Um, and I’m, I am finding that less and less as more women are, are in leadership roles. I mean, it’s, it’s, the pendulum is, is swinging and I think it’s like be disrespectful to women at your own peril. Mm-Hmm. We’ve had, we’ve had situations in our. In the council where we called out people for, you know, for interrupting or for, for mansplaining or whatever.

And, but it does feel, of course it still exists, but I have watched in 15 years a real shift in the level of respect, even in the council chambers. Absolutely. And I don’t, I rarely felt like, I mean, with the exception of a. Few notable people. Mm-Hmm. The council chambers were very respectful and very, I, I didn’t, I didn’t have those feelings.

Not to say that I haven’t seen ’em, and not that it, they don’t exist.

[00:45:51] Sherry: So thank you for that. Uh, that is very, very happy to hear. Uh. I am wondering, so you talked about the tears coming out as you were watching this new council come on board. Um, what other hopes are you holding for this council in ways that they might work?

[00:46:07] Amy: This morning I met with your council member, um, Cheniqua Johnson, who’s fabulous, and she was, we were talking about, you know, how this first few months were going and she said the one thing that she’s trying is going to apartment buildings and knocking on the doors and having community meetings in the apartment building.

And I love that. I love that they’re innovating and thinking about the question about how do we get more people to feel like they have a voice? Um, whether it’s because you look like the representative, whether it’s because a representative came and knocked on your door and came to your apartment, and I did community office hours while I was in office, but.

I kind of found that the same people would come to the office hours, which is fine, but I wasn’t, I didn’t feel like it was getting at my end goal, and I just love that they’re continuing to innovate that way. And I hear all of them with their kind of new ideas on how, um, they want to be a representative that is really in touch with their community.

So I, I see that as very, very. Hopeful. Um, and I, I think the other thing is just continuing this idea of we’re, we’re in this together. We’re looking at the greater good. If we work together, um, we are gonna be successful in a strong mayor system. And it’s, that’s headed in that direction. I feel that they’ve got all the tools.

I’m very, very hopeful and excited.

[00:47:19] Kathy: Perfectly said, Amy. That’s sort of what I feel too and, and especially after the State of the City yesterday, somebody asked me after a reporter in Minneapolis, so how do you, do you have one word to describe after the. Uh, an all woman council was elected and I said, hopeful.

Mm-Hmm. And, and part of it is because they will find their way and rock it because they are all so good and are in it for the right reasons. Talking to Cheniqua, I met her a year and a half before the election and when I was talking to her. She wanted to have dinner. ’cause she said, I’m just, I’d like to pick your brain.

And I, you know, of course you know, here’s me. I’m like, Ooh, she wants my endorsement, whatever. She actually didn’t, never asked for it. What she wanted to know is what was the job like? What was it like working on things because she wanted to make sure it’s like. I really wanna run for city council. Is it what I think it is?

And so she was looking for, you know, how can you affect change? What are those things she was looking for intel about the job. Not anything having to do I. With me and it, it was so refreshing and wonderful and not transactional, not not the least, bit transactional. At the end of dinner I said, well, whatever decision you make, if you decide to run, you know, have me be one of your first calls ’cause I will support you.

I mean, I didn’t know who else was running. Um, but she impressed me so much because she was doing the work to make sure it was a fit for her. Mm-Hmm. Right. Not just like. Oh, somebody’s not running. This is, I’ll run for this, or I’ll run for that. It’s like, you know, run for the position.

[00:48:59] Ian: The perennial candidate.

Yeah. Yeah.

[00:49:01] Kathy: Well, who’s that? Right? What issues interest you and does the city work on them? Mm-Hmm. Oh yeah. Right.

[00:49:07] Ian: Yeah. Yeah. Knowing, knowing what is the purview of the thing that you are running for? And what, what you’re actually gonna be able to like-

[00:49:15] Kathy: I wanna change the school district. Right, right, right, right.

I want universal healthcare. Well, great. When there’s a congressional seat open, have at it. Yeah. But in the city, not so much.

[00:49:28] Ian: So this next question kind of comes from the fact that my partner works as a public servant out in Carver County. And I hear from her, like from her perspective as. A staff member who is supposed to give recommendations to elected officials.

You know, like, and it makes me wonder, you know, okay, how much of that expertise is being like weighed and like how much of the expertise? Because like the people who are staff members are still humans with their own views, but they are supposed to be giving like professional recommendations that are just like "objective." Right. What is, what is the balancing act there between like, oh, the, you know, the city council is supposed to be making like political decisions, but staff are supposed to be making just like, you know, like technical recommendations. And do you feel that we strike the, like a proper balance between those things in the way that like city council.

City of St. Paul is like structured right now?

[00:50:24] Kathy: Yeah. I mean, I, I think a city council should never just blindly accept a staff recommendation, otherwise why are they’re there, right? I, I mean, it’s the council’s job to take that advice. I mean, it’s sort of like, well, the planning commission ruled one way, right?

The city council if, if an. If an item is appealed, can reverse that decision because we have a broader view or think they erred in some way. So I think that if you look at it, I bet you most of the time probably, I don’t know what percentage, over 80% of the time the city would go with the staff, the council would go with the staff position, don’t you?

It might even be higher than that. Yeah. So in general, I, I mean, they have a job to do. You don’t wanna reverse everything they say because otherwise Mm-hmm. Boy, they’re not there long. Um, so I, I think taking their recommendation and hearing them is critical because they’re the subject matter experts and you might not be.

[00:51:24] Ian: Mm-Hmm.

[00:51:24] Kathy: Um, so I think it, it’s critical, but there are also other factors to consider. Yeah. Right. Or things that you think that they misinterpreted. What does the comp plan say? That they, it’s like, here’s what we thought. It’s like, well, no, I was in the room when we did that and here’s what I know it meant.

Mm-Hmm. Right. Those sorts of things.

[00:51:41] Ian: Yeah, and, and a lot of times, I mean, I guess, I don’t know how many different scenarios this applies to, but I know that like the St. Paul bicycle plan, for example, right, is a great guiding document for. Staff to look at and say, oh, okay. City council has expressed that they want a bike lane of some kind here.

Yep. And then we’re going to figure out what design is going to work. And you know that that whole process becomes like it. It’s not just staff. Doing whatever they want. Like they are receiving guidance already.

[00:52:12] Amy: Right. And I, I think the council’s role is like the more 30,000 foot and trying to look at the whole, like when you, when we talk about like the politics versus a staff report, I, I think with, at the council level politics are probably less. I would agree. And more of it is priority. ’cause I think in the council chambers, like we’re always balancing like people’s rights and responsibilities, you know? Mm-Hmm. And it’s like, whether it’s the person who’s, they want big trees that grow over into their neighbor’s yards and the neighbor doesn’t want the trees that drop the leaves into their yards or, right.

Yeah. Whether, you know, just the different rules about the code or what have you. A lot of them are about how do we live together. Mm-Hmm. And balance that. Like, well, this is what I wanna do. I like to party until two. Um, the person next door was like, I like to go to bed at eight. You know, and like, but I feel like we’re the brokers of sort of like, how do we live together, especially in an urban setting.

Mm-Hmm. So to me that, that it feels like really. A lot of what I think our role ends up being and, and it’s sometimes it’s on the greater scale. Like we’re talking about Summit Avenue and like we have to do this infrastructure. When we’re doing infrastructure, we have to build the bike and the pedestrian infrastructure ’cause that’s what we do.

And then it gets political out here. And actually we are in charge of keeping our eye on the prize, knowing what is in the comp plan, knowing what is in the bike plan, knowing what we want. Our city to look like in 20 years. Yeah. And staying focused on that. So in some ways it’s almost like resisting the loudest voice in the room.

Mm-Hmm. Yeah. And for the betterment of the, the whole community. Nice.

[00:53:38] Ian: Yeah. Then to take it home, uh, we want to know what are you two up to these days? What does somebody do after they’ve retired from city council, uh, and or public works director. Yeah.

[00:53:50] Kathy: Well, I, perhaps it was fitting that I retired from Public Works March 6th, 2020. The state shut down March 13th.

[00:54:00] Ian: Mm-Hmm.

[00:54:01] Kathy: And my big joke before I left was really all I wanna do is clean out my kitchen cupboards, right? ’cause I, I thought my husband and I would go on a big trip and I couldn’t find anything where I wanted to go, blah, blah, blah.

So I said, I just really want to clean out my kitchen cupboards. Well, turns out. Oh, I was able to clean out my kitchen cupboards and every closet in my home.

[00:54:23] Ian: You had a lot of time.

[00:54:24] Kathy: I did have a lot of time, but then, you know, when things opened up a little bit, I had a son and his wife and their then 18 month old, moved back to St. Paul from Boston so we could start helping with childcare. And then my mother got sick and she moved in with us. And so, you know, right now what we do is we babysit and caretake and um, my mother has since passed, but you know, we have now we have four grandkids who we have the privilege of being able to help our kids so that they don’t have to, you know, go to countless babysitters and have a little bit of flexibility and things like that. So I, I’m never sort of sitting down. It’s really frustrating to say, is there, do I have a day where I don’t have anything to do? Seldom. Seldom. But my house is really clean and the kitchen cupboards need to be redone again. So really for me, it’s just sort of enjoying the grandkids and my family.

[00:55:22] Amy: Nice. Well, we do some fun stuff.

[00:55:25] Kathy: And going out to dinner with Amy and her husband is always right, having that connection with really good friends.

[00:55:32] Amy: We did a Wisconsin Supper Club tour. Oh, yep. So, I mean, there’s that too, but

[00:55:36] Kathy: Yep.

[00:55:37] Amy: I am. On the other hand, we, I chuckle and people are like, how’s retirement?

I’m like, I am somewhere nowhere near close to retirement, in fact. And I feel like as I just had 12 years of grad school, I learned so much working at the city at open, I mean just about climate and transportation infrastructure. I can’t go to a city without, I call it municipal goggles. Uhhuh Uhhuh, where I’m like, who funded that? How, who’s maintaining that? And I have all the questions about the infrastructure. And I love traveling because I just, you know, the. I, I’m going to Southeast Asia in a couple weeks and it’s just like, I always call it like calm chaos. Like there’s just other ways to do things and I love that. So right now I’m shifting gears to a consulting role, um, doing some interim executive director and helping local projects get through the government system given what I’ve learned, um, along the way.

And I hope to continue to keep contributing to the Twin Cities ’cause I love it here. And I think we have a great. Place that got punched pretty hard in the gut during Covid Mm-Hmm. Um, but we’re on the path to recovery and I want to be part of that. So I’m still here. I, I’m still really, I’m pleased to be, to be part of this community and part of our municipal infrastructure.

[00:56:45] Sherry: That is wonderful. And from one consultant to another, what is your consulting firm called, Amy?

[00:56:50] Amy: I just decided last night. It’s called Amy Brendmoen Strategies. There we go. You know what? Poor name, but for now it’s gonna have to work and eventually it could grow into something else. So for now, just so we can put out some, um, invoices.

Mm-Hmm. There we go. Needs a name.

[00:57:07] Ian: Doing business as

[00:57:10] Amy: I’ve got some good ones in the back of my mind. We’ll talk about.

[00:57:14] Ian: Well. Kathy, Amy, thank you for coming on the show.

[00:57:18] Amy: Thank you. Thank you, thank you. Thank you so much for having us. What a blast. So fun. We appreciate it.

[00:57:23] Ian: Thanks for joining us for this episode of The Streets.mn Podcast.

The show is released under a creative commons attribution, non-commercial non derivative license. So feel free to republish the episode as long as you are not altering it and you are not profiting from it. The music in this episode is by Eric Brandt and the Urban Hillbilly Quartet. This episode was produced by Sherry Johnson, edited by Parker Seaman, AKA Strongthany, and hosted and transcribed by me Ian R Buck.

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About Sherry Johnson

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Sherry Johnson gets feisty about sustainability and localism. A complexity coach, adaptive strategist, and amplifier of counter-narratives, Sherry supports civic and nonprofit leaders as Principal Guide at Cultivate Strategy.

About Ian R Buck

Pronouns: he/him

Podcaster and teacher. Ian gets around via bike and public transportation. "You don't need a parachute to skydive; you just need a parachute to skydive twice!"