John Nephew

Maplewood City Council Policy & Politics


Thursday, November 15, 2007

This Week's Review

This is just a quick note to link to the article in this week's Maplewood Review, looking back at the race and forward to January's new council.

I've been very busy since the election -- there were a lot of lawn signs to take down the day after the election, and business at my company, Atlas Games, has been booming, meaning lots of work for me writing invoices and packing boxes of games off to our customers worldwide. Sales of our existing games have been particularly strong, plus there are new titles that I delayed until after the election. (Watch your favorite local game store for Mad Scientist University -- a great stocking stuffer! It should be on shelves starting around November 29th.)

Now...I've got to get back to work and pack up an order heading to England!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

New Day Rising

We won!

Media coverage this morning:

Maplewood Voices breaks down the numbers, including precinct results (in every precinct, either Will took first and I took second or vice versa).

The Pioneer Press offers a short article, headlined, "Upheaval in Maplewood; voters oust ally of Longrie."

A Star Tribune article surveying yesterday's election results also includes mention of Maplewood.

There are so many people I have to thank for making this possible. My wife, Michelle, has been my #1 supporter -- working so hard and committing her diverse talents to this campaign, and putting up with so much along the way. I can't imagine making it through this election without her love and support. Besides the rest of my family, who have been unwavering, I am so grateful to my campaign donors, volunteers, and mentors who gave me much needed advice to help me develop a practical campaign plan (and prodded me to stick to it), and helped it actually come together. Will Rossbach has been a pleasure to campaign with, and it is an honor that I will serve on the council with him. I barely knew Will when I decided back in February that I would run for city council, but it is now my privilege to call him a friend.

Most of all, I thank the voters of Maplewood, who are putting their faith in me. I will do my best to live up to your high expectations.


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Live Results

Polls close in an hour. If you're interested in seeing results as they are reported, here are two links.

First, the Maplewood city webpage has a spot for results right on the front page. They will be trying to get results on here as soon as they are available, so if all goes well this will be the place with the results first.

Second, the Ramsey County website has a page for results as they get reported. (This page includes the Maplewood City Council race as well as other races around the county, such the Roseville school district race for those of us in Maplewood precincts 1, 2 and 3.)

If you haven't voted yet, well, get out there already!

Election Day

Polls open in just half an hour. Now get out there and vote -- and bring a neighbor!

If you need election information, you can call Ramsey County Elections at 651-266-2171 for assistance.

These web links are also helpful:

Polling Location finder on Ramsey County's website
Voter registration (you can both register and vote at your polling place today)

Monday, November 05, 2007

Campaign Lit: "New Day"

The last of our campaign literature has begun arriving in mailboxes. We received our copy in Saturday's mail, and as I was out talking to voters this weekend I heard from folks from north to south who had also received it.

Throughout this campaign, I've used this guiding principle for my campaign's literature: Don't try to convince voters of something new; remind them of what they already know to be true. The purpose of the literature is not to change anyone's view of the world, but to inspire them to take action, to give them confidence that their vote can fix the problems that are plain for all of us to see.

In my first piece, the door-knocking palm card, I laid out my three campaign themes: fiscal responsibility (anyone who got a property tax bill for 2007, while seeing the elimination of the parks department, can understand this one); good government (anyone who had doubts about this can see Erik Hjelle spending our tax dollars to promote reeelection of his ally, Rebecca Cave, in the latest city newsletter that was rushed out just in time for the election); and pride in Maplewood, which is really the call to action -- persuading voters that we can restore our pride in Maplewood by using the ballot box to choose a better future for our city.

Before the primary, we created "Puzzled" as a metaphor for the divided and fractured city that we all have come to see, and to suggest me as a candidate who can solve it.

In "Shortchanged," we reprinted a number of headlines and quotes about the 2007 budget and reorganization and its fallout, reminding voters of the mess we've all watched unfold over the past two years. "Bad Apple" was a humorous spin on the feelings expressed to me by many voters all over the city, who felt angry and frustrated, even if they had voted for some or all in the council's current majority. We wanted to acknowledge those feelings, but turn them to a positive end of bringing needed change.

Coming into the home stretch, Will and I were again producing joint pieces. "Lightbulbs" further developed the motif of light and darkness from Will's mailer "Dutch Boy" (which compared him to Hans Brinker holding his finger in the dike through a long, cold night to hold back the flood while waiting for help to arrive). This council majority talks a good line about openness, but they have been surrounded by controversy over alleged violations of the open meeting law, and actions such as the 2 AM permanent appointment of Mr. Copeland as city manager "in the dark of night."

And this of course brings us to this last mailer, "New Day." It took a lot of crisp autumn mornings for me to get the right photograph of a beautiful Maplewood sunrise (that long rainy stretch in October wasn't helping!). We wanted something simple, positive, and inspirational -- as we've found throughout this campaign, the voters know what needs to be done. We just want to nudge more of them into the voting booth. (And to bring their neighbors!)

We've worked hard to keep our literature positive. While we have legitimately criticized the official actions and methods of this council majority (which includes one of my opponents), to remind voters why change is needed, we have avoided personal attacks on our opponents, and taken great care to comply with campaign laws. I believe that a victory built upon personal attacks, smears, threats, and lies is no victory for Maplewood; it deepens the divisions in the community, provokes resentment, and makes it hard to govern effectively (as the last two years demonstrate). If winning this race requires the use of such methods, I would rather not win.

I believe voters appreciate the difference. Take a look at the literature of my campaign and Will's, put it next to the literature that has come from the other candidates and their supporters (including those anonymous attacks and the use of our taxpayer-funded city newsletter for campaigning). Which campaigns have displayed the methods, attitude, and regard for the law that you would like to see speaking for you and your community in City Hall?

The answer should be as clear as day.

Labels: ,

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Campaign Lit: "Lightbulbs"

Here's another example of a joint piece of campaign literature for Will Rossbach and me. We printed 10,000 copies, and most of them were distributed to Maplewood doors by volunteers last weekend. (The remainder have been done throughout the week and this weekend.)

We wanted to do a piece that talked about our shared vision about how political leadership should be exercised in our city. While neighbors have different goals and wishes about individual projects and policy decisions, and those disagreements are part of a healthy "marketplace of ideas," we think there really is common ground that unites most of us all across the political spectrum, in terms of how we want decisions to be reached in our government. Unfortunately, what we've seen in the past couple of years has not lived up to our civic expectations. Tuesday gives us all as voters a chance to fix that.


Saturday, November 03, 2007

Campaign Lit: Palm Card

In my project to post all the campaign lit we've produced, I probably should have started with this one. It's a "palm card" -- designed for handing out in person while knocking on doors, or leaving behind if no one is home. We produced it before the primary in September, and designed it for use in both the primary and general campaigns.


Friday, November 02, 2007

Change of Polling Place - P10

This morning I received this e-mail from City Clerk Karen Guilfoile:

Subject: Polling Place Change Notification

Good morning -

Yesterday I learned that the Ramsey County Nursing Home, which is the polling place for Maplewood P10, will be unavailable for our use at the general election next Tuesday due to a construction project there. After consulting with Joe Mansky and Bruce Thompson from Ramsey County Property Management, we have come up with an alternative site, namely the Ramsey County Extension Office (aka The Barn) which is located just north of the nursing home.

The following steps have been taken to ensure that all affected parties are fully aware of this change.

1. We will mail all registered voters in the precinct a post card notifying them of the polling place change. This post card should go out in the mail tomorrow.
2. We will post a notice of the polling place change on our web site and Ramsey County will do the same on their web site.
3. Property Management will change the message on the marquee sign located at the entrance to the nursing home indicating that the polling place location has been changed.
4. Property Management will provide voter parking spots near the entrance of the extension office.
5. We will contact each affected candidate and inform them of the polling place change.
6. Maplewood will put up signs directing voters to the new polling place location.

Please let me know if you have any questions concerning this situation.


A prominent notice of this change has also been posted on the front page of the city website. If you live in the 10th precinct, or have friends there, be sure to let them know about the change!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Debate Rebroadcasts

The Channel 19 cable website has a schedule that includes rebroadcasts of this week's League of Women Voters forum (I'm watching one on TV right now, in fact). Look for "Maplewood C.C. Forum" on the listings; it looks like there are multiple daily broadcasts to choose from between now and the election on Tuesday.


Campaign Lit: "Bad Apple"

Today I have another example of campaign literature to share. I'm pleased with all of the literature we've produced for this campaign, but "Bad Apple" is my favorite.

Even before I decided to run for city council, I met a lot of Maplewood residents who would admit to me, sometimes rather sheepishly, that they had voted for one or more of our present council majority. When I began door-knocking, I met a lot more. To say these folks had "buyer's remorse" is an understatement; feelings ranged from disappointment to anger and feelings of betrayal, of being deceived and used for other agendas than these voters had thought they were supporting. People who had felt some dissatisfaction with the old order had thought it might be good to shake things up a little bit -- but what has happened is not at all what they bargained for.

I wanted a campaign mailer that would tap into this sentiment, but I also felt it needed a light and whimsical touch, to transform feelings of anger and bitterness into laughter and hope for a better future through this year's election. We needed something that acknowledged voters' negative feelings about Maplewood's situation, but did not wallow in it, and humor seemed like the best approach.

Michelle and I talked about a few different visual concepts. The right image can communicate an idea much more quickly and effectively than a lot of text -- and candidates can't rely on getting a long attention span between the mailbox and the recycling bin. I proposed that we use a little girl with a grossed-out expression, and Michelle's idea of the wormy apple as the source of the grossness was visually perfect and also inspired fun turns of phrase. Our friends' daughter Zoe turned out to be the perfect model for the image as well, I think.

When we showed early drafts of the mailer to people and they reacted by instantly laughing out loud, we knew we were on the right track.


Newer Posts Older Posts

Posts by Date

Powered by Blogger & Blogger Templates. Customized by Michelle Nephew.
Contact me at