Bold leadership. For a greater St. Paul.

I come from a family and a faith tradition that have taught me the importance of working hard to improve my community.  My parents both served veterans as doctors at the VA Medical Center and helped construct a new neighborhood playground and build a new community high school in their free time.  My tradition teaches that you are not allowed to separate yourself from the community and that although there may be more work than one person can do, you are still obligated to do your part.

I internalized those lessons from a young age as I found that all around me, things were not as they should be.  In college, I was shocked to discover that middle school students in Boston – just a few miles away – had never been exposed to a college campus before.  I started a group called STAGE – Student Theater Advancing Growth and Empowerment – that helped those students write their own plays and brought them on campus to perform them.

After college, I knew I wanted to be where I was needed most.  I chose to teach public school in Baton Rouge, Louisiana where the education system at the time was ranked 49th in the country.  I taught earth science to 8th grade students who could barely read, the victims of low expectations that had left them seriously underprepared.  Meanwhile, all the kids who could afford it were enrolled at elite private schools.  An excellent education isn’t something that only the rich should be able to afford and the fact that this was accepted as fact was maddening to me.  That experience made me dedicate my career to making sure everyone got an equal opportunity from the earliest ages.

After my husband and I were married, we wanted to experience life in a completely different place so we moved to Pune, India, where I worked to recruit young professionals to become teachers in low-income schools.  Every morning we were awakened by the sound of dozens of water trucks filling up at the municipal well across the street. They were bound for the new residential developments that had been built so quickly and with so little planning that there was no infrastructure to support them, so water had to be trucked in every day.   This experience taught me the importance of basing development on a vision, a lesson I’ve taken with me to the Planning Commission where I always try to make decisions based on a shared vision of what we want our city to look like.

Also in India, my husband and I spent an infuriating nine months renewing our 12-month visas.  I spent almost every other day in the chaos of the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO), not understanding which line to be in, whom to speak with or how to explain my situation.  I couldn’t understand how such a routine government function could be so completely mishandled.  I know there are many members of our own community who, because of language, income or cultural barriers, may feel similarly frustrated and isolated when trying to get things done with our own city government.

My husband and I love the West Side community. We enjoy being able to walk to our library, our pediatrician’s office, our auto service shop, our favorite restaurant, to Harriet Island and downtown.  We love biking the Lilydale Trail to Mendota Heights.  And we love the diversity of our community.

But lately I’ve realized that even here, there are serious problems.  In the last six months, three of our neighborhood businesses have closed – two of which, Jerabek’s and Seven Corners Hardware, were community institutions for generations.   While I love going on walks around the neighborhood with my sons, the vacant storefronts and blank walls along Wabasha, Cesar Chavez, and the downtown core make walking there uninteresting and sometimes even scary.   We now have the Green Line but we lack east-west bus routes on the West Side, strong bike connections to transit, and an efficient transit option between the airport and downtown.  Our neighborhood has seen a spike in crime this past summer as young people wandered the streets with nothing to do.  And I know I’m not the only one who has felt infuriated at the lack of basic city services as I drove over horribly rutted streets last spring.

So I want to get involved in making our community better.  I want to build a greater Saint Paul that supports its local businesses and invests in its children, where it’s easy to get around in a car or without one and where you can count on the city to provide excellent services – the kind of place that will attract the next generation to call Saint Paul home.

My husband and I are excited about making Saint Paul our permanent home, raising our children and growing old here.  And I am committed to working my hardest to make this community the best it can be as your next City Council member.

Transparency and Truth-Telling

I am committed to running a positive, transparent campaign, so it’s important to me to correct any misinformation about me directly.  Below are some claims that have been made about me, followed by the reality.  Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Claim:  Rebecca is the Green Party Candidate.
Rebecca is a DFLer.  Rebecca has not been endorsed by the Green Party.  The DFL did not endorse any candidate and Rebecca, Darren, and Marit all competed throughout the process.  She has a long history of supporting and working for DFL candidates at the local and national level, including Senator Sandy Pappas, Representative Erin Murphy, John Kerry and Barack Obama.  Rebecca is the only candidate in the race to have received an endorsement from any DFL caucus; she has been endorsed by the DFL Feminist Caucus, Stonewall DFL and the Minnesota Young DFL.  Rebecca has not been endorsed by the Green Party but she is proud to be running an inclusive campaign that has garnered the support of people from across the political spectrum.

Claim:  Rebecca is anti-teacher and is for privatizing education.
Rebecca knows first hand what it takes to make things work in a classroom and what it takes for a community to support its public school students.  She is the only candidate running in Ward 2 that has real classroom experience.  She has dedicated her entire career to supporting public schools.  She started her career teaching 8th grade science in a public school in Baton Rouge, LA and has since spent ten years working for non-profit organizations that raise money for public schools and support public school students and teachers in Louisiana, India, Minneapolis and Saint Paul.  She also founded and leads West Siders for Strong Schools, a group of parents and neighbors united to support public schools on the West Side.

Claim:  Rebecca is in favor of keeping incompetent teachers in the classroom.
As a former teacher, Rebecca knows teaching is a challenging and a rewarding profession.  Rebecca believes the school board should be responsible for working with the district and the teacher’s union to ensure teachers receive the professional development, resources and support they need to be successful, while still being accountable for student outcomes.  She also believes the City can support our schools by ensuring kids have outstanding enrichment opportunities during their out-of-school hours, at parks, rec centers and libraries.

Claim:  Rebecca is not supportive of unions.
Rebecca is the only candidate who was a member of a teachers union and her husband, Shane Noecker, is currently a teacher at Rogers High School and a member of Education Minnesota.  Rebecca is labor-endorsed (she has been endorsed by the Saint Paul Police Federation and the Fire Supervisors Local 3939).  Rebecca shares the values of unions in pushing for a more fair and equitable society.  She has spent her entire career working on behalf of those who are often overlooked – students in underfunded public schools in Louisiana and India and Minneapolis – and she has made social justice a cornerstone of her campaign, advocating for a living wage, earned sick and safe time and better transit options.

Claim:  Rebecca is in the pocket of the Chamber of Commerce.
Rebecca is proud to have earned the support of the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce PAC.  Other candidates sought their endorsement but they support Rebecca because of who she is and the opportunity for new leadership that she represents.  With so many people in Ward 2 struggling with issues of poverty we need a candidate who can work with the business community to do whatever it takes to keep and attract good paying jobs to our community.

Having the support of any one group does not mean their interests matter more than another group or issue.  It means being a leader that can engage, bring ideas forward, and collaborate with people from different points of view to help lead Saint Paul.

Rebecca is the only candidate that has earned the combined support of labor, business and community groups (including womenwinning, MN-NOW, Minnesota Young DFL, Stonewall DFL, the DFL Feminist Caucus and the St. Paul Police Federation) because of who she is, what she believes, and how important it is for Saint Paul and Ward 2 to have a new voice and new leadership on the city council. At a time when we see politics and politicians divide us, Rebecca is the only candidate who can bring the diverse community within Ward 2 together.

Claim:  Rebecca has accepted money from a national pro-Teach For America PAC.
As her latest finance report shows, Rebecca has not accepted money from any national PACs.

As of July 20, 2015, 98% of her contributions came from individuals and only 2% have come from organizations.

Claim:  Rebecca thinks feminism is radical and outdated.
Rebecca is a strong female leader who has worked tirelessly throughout her career to ensure that all people – women and men – are heard and valued.  Rebecca has been endorsed for her pro-feminist positions by womenwinning, the DFL Feminist Caucus, and MN-NOW.