Board of Directors Candidate Profiles & Voting

Online Voting is Open Through December 11th!

What to know:
  • The map below shows the 3 "subdistricts" within the Hamline Midway neighborhood. Open seats include one seat in each district (A, B, and C)
  • Scroll down to view candidate profiles
  • You can vote for a HMC board member if you are 16 years of age or older and reside within, own property within, or own a business which is headquartered and principally operates within the boundaries of District 11 as designated by the City of Saint Paul: Lexington Avenue on the East, Transfer Road on the West, University Avenue on the South, and the BNSF railroad just north of Pierce Butler Route on the North.
  • Eligible voters will vote for a candidate representing the subdistict in which they reside OR own a business. For instance, if you live in Subdistict A, you will ONLY vote for ONE candidate representing Subdistrict A.
  • The link to the ballot can be found here and at the bottom of this page.
 
 
 

Candidate Profiles

District A

Subdistict A: Thom Foss

What interests you about serving on the HMC Board?:

As a business owner in the Midway neighborhood, I am trying to take an active role in the community. Being on the HMC Board would provide me with the opportunity to discuss and help shape some of the driving forces here in the neighborhood.

Please describe any previous community leadership experience:

Served on the Supervisory Committee for TopLine Federal Credit Union from 2013 to 2016 (3 years overall, two years as committee chair).

Please describe any special skills that you would bring to the board:

Founding and running in a business in a highly regulated industry (i.e. alcohol), I've had a great deal of experience in working with multiple government agencies. In the same vein, I'm also well-versed in small business financials as well as project management.

Please tell us how you view the role of the District Council:

I see the role as being multi-purpose, with the primary responsibilities being to coordinate community development programs with city officials and to listen and advocate for appropriate changes within the neighborhood.

Please tell us anything else you think is important for us to know about you:

I've been a St Paul resident for over 20 years and would love the opportunity to give something back to the community.

 

Subdistict A: Jennifer Hadley

Jen Hadley

Why are you interested in serving as a board member at Hamline Midway Coalition? 

I love the Hamline Midway area – its diversity, walkability, proximity to public transportation and wonderful offerings of ethnic food. In the past three years, my husband and I have bought three fixer-upper houses in the area, have done quite a bit of work on them, and manage two of them as rental houses. Being emotionally and physically invested in this area, I hope to help improve the community like how we’ve improved our old houses: step by step, with hard work and dedication. I am concerned about the recent crime in our neighborhood as well as the amount of trash that collects on our sidewalks and in the streets. This is why I want to serve on the Hamline Midway Coalition (HMC) board – to work together with our neighbors to come up with solutions to problems that face our community.

What is your experience in working with communities and neighborhoods?

I have always been active in the community where I live, chatting with neighbors, walking our dog, picking up trash and monitoring the goings-on in the area. I think it’s important to catch up/chat with all members in the area – homeowners, landlords and renters – and would enjoy representing them on the HMC board.

Please describe the skills and passion you would bring to the board as a community member.

I would enjoy working with fellow neighbors and business owners in the area because I am passionate about retaining the special characteristics of our neighborhood (its racial and ethnic diversity) that make it an enjoyable place to live. I am a great organizer, critical and creative thinker and proponent of win-win solutions, so working on a team to do good things for our neighborhood would be lots of fun for me.

Please tell us how you view the role of the District Council: 

As I understand it, the District Council helps guide the path forward for the Hamline Midway area, not only for the long-term, in developing the neighborhood plan, but also in the short-term, helping devise solutions to issues in the area. The Council is a voice for people who live in the area and helps disseminate information about what is happening in the area. I would love to represent my neighbors and voice their concerns and opinions on the HMC board.

If there is anything else you'd like to share, please do so.

While I'm primarily running to serve subdistrict A, one rental property is in subdistrict B. I know people in both neighborhoods, as I walk my dog and live mostly in A, but I have interacted with a number of residents in subdistrict B while picking up trash along the few blocks near that rental house.

 

Subdistict A: Mary Vanderwert

Why are you interested in serving as a board member at Hamline Midway Coalition? 

I love this neighborhood and want to contribute to the efforts to make it even better.

What is your experience in working with communities and neighborhoods? 

I started and lead the Midway Progressive Women, started the breakfasts in the alley in my block and have professional experience working in communities with low income and on the St. Paul Public Schools Board of Education.

Please describe the skills and passion you would bring to the board as a community member. 

I care deeply about the children in our city and want to ensure that their families are stable, supported and have the information they need to be contributing to the community. I am currently St. Paul Sunrise Rotary Club President, leaving the school board and have more time for community activities. I have facilitated strategic planning, am a competent presenter and understand organizational development.

Please tell us how you view the role of the District Council: 

The District Council needs to hold the vision for our community. The Council should be visible and active in the community so our neighbors know who we are and we know what their dreams, concerns, issues, etc. are for our part of the city. The Council also needs to be a part of the decisions at the city that impact us.

 


 

 

 

Subdistrict B: Kobey Lane Cofer

Kobey

Why are you interested in serving as a board member at Hamline Midway Coalition? 

As a student of Hamline University, I believe having a voice for the stakeholders at the university is imperative for successful community integration.

What is your experience in working with communities and neighborhoods? 

I come from a small town named Walker in northern Minnesota. I have been in close connection with community partners and the projects they do through Interact Club (a subsidiary of Rotary International). I also helped petition the city with my place of employment when the city was going to start construction on the only road leading to the Walker Community Farmers Market.

Please describe the skills and passion you would bring to the board as a community member. 

I'm a senior at Hamline University and I'm majoring in Political Science and minoring in economics and nonprofit management. Through the classes I've taken, I've equipped myself with skills regarding mission impact evaluation, community engagement, and resource development. I want to give back to the community in a fashion that helps open up the university to be more integrated with the Hamline-Midway neighborhood.

Please tell us how you view the role of the District Council: 

The district council is an important intermediary for the Hamline-Midway neighborhood. The council is a liaison between the residents and the city council; it helps channel the concerns of residents in the area in a way that enables their council member to address the issues in an effective manner.


 

 

Subdistrict C: Garrett Backes

Why are you interested in serving as a board member at Hamline Midway Coalition?

To get more involved, to give back and be a part of the leadership system supporting the neighborhood, this neighborhood in which live and love. As I learn more about our city and the public supports and governing structures, getting involved with our Coalition seems to be a great way to get more involved with my city and my neighborhood. I personally want to put my leadership skills into action, be part of the good work that is done on a local level by local civic leaders. As an 'emerging leader' myself, board membership with the Hamline Midway Coalition seems like a great way to do that.

What is your experience in working with communities and neighborhoods?

In working with community, my entire career to-date has been dedicated to the cause. I have worked in the nonprofit sector for over ten years now, from starting with United Way in Saint Cloud in marketing and communications; fundraising for a regional community foundation benefiting the southwest portion of the state of MN; doing fund development work with a disability advocacy organization here in Saint Paul; and currently doing strategic partnership building and fundraising for a youth-serving cultural institution in Saint Paul. My community building and advocacy has been focused regionally and for a constituent base; not specifically to a neighborhood. In having put roots down here though with a home, I would like to get more deeply and meaningfully involved in supporting the neighborhood.

Please describe the skills and passion you would bring to the board as a community member:

My skills as an interpersonal communicator, bridge-builder between need and resource, a middle-person in generating shared understanding, a strategic thinker with a vision, the greater good in mind, a system that works for all, equity for all our neighbors. My career experience as outlined above. My passion for making the community a better place to live, work and play.

Please tell us how you view the role of the District Council:

Advocating for the neighborhood, advocating for those living within the district, making decisions and recommendations guided by the vision of a vibrant neighborhood for all that live here.

 

Subdistrict CDieu Do

Why are you interested in serving as a board member at Hamline Midway Coalition? 

I am interested in serving as a board member at the Hamline Midway Coalition because I am passionate about advocating for students and young adults who are renting in the neighborhood. I myself am a full-time student at Hamline University and have been renting in the area for the past two years and I have had negative experiences with renting alongside many other students. If I were to be elected or appointed onto the board, it would be honor to devote my time and energy to advocate for tenant's rights for students, stimulating economic growth in our small businesses especially those owned and operated by communities of color, and improving the public safety of our streets and neighborhoods.

What is your experience in working with communities and neighborhoods? 

My experience in working with communities and neighborhoods have been through four internships in public service, five student leadership opportunities at Hamline University, and a board member position for a national nonprofit organization. Through these experiences, one position that highlights community engagement and exemplifies advocacy and leadership is serving as the Student Body Vice President of Hamline. This opportunity has given me the platform to advocate for the needs and concerns of over 2,100 students at Hamline University. My position allows me to connect and make students of all backgrounds feel heard and represented in the eyes of the administration. In this experience, I have learned that working in any level of government or position in public service, one must lead with the values of integrity, empathy, and kindness in order to be viewed as a trusted and honest leader. I believe that if I were to be elected or appointed for this position, I would be able to transfer all the skills I have learned in being Student Body Vice President to advocate for change and justice for our Hamline-Midway neighborhood and community.

Please describe the skills and passion you would bring to the board as a community member. 

Similar to what I have stated before, if I were to be elected or appointed to the council, I would be able to bring a vast array of skills and passions. From my array of skills, I would categorize my top three skills being public speaking, community outreach, and conflict resolution. I have spoken in front of crowds of over 300 people on behalf of our student congress. In my role as Student Body Vice President, I am always working on community outreach and bettering our marketing techniques in order to reach students and inform them of changes being made on campus. With every job or leadership position comes its hardships specifically among people. Conflict is relational and can be very difficult to address at times when your colleagues are also your friends as well. Finding and maintaining a balance between personal and professional relationships is the key to success. I have been faced with conflict between different colleagues and conflict that has risen between myself and my colleagues. Through communication, empathy, and patience, I have been able to address this conflict that has led to my personal growth as a leader. In addition to my skill set, I am passionate about public service and community organizing. I have been blessed with the opportunity to serve the Hamline community for the past two years and I look forward to continuing my journey of public service by expanding the population of citizens that I am representing.

Please tell us how you view the role of the District Council: 

I view the role of the District Council of the governing body of the Hamline-Midway neighborhood. This council gives community members the opportunity to voice their concerns and issues while providing folks resources to help better living experiences for our community members. The role of the District Council isn't simply to pass legislation and attending meetings. The role of the District Council is to foster a welcoming, inclusive, and safe environment for our neighborhood and community members of all diverse backgrounds. The council has the potential to create a lasting, positive impact on not only our neighborhood, but with our Saint Paul and Twin Cities communities as well.

If there is anything else you'd like to share, please do so.

I just wanted to express how grateful I am for the opportunity to apply and potentially be elected or appointed into the Hamline Midway Coalition. The opportunity to serve others through public service and political leadership has been my dream since I was seven years old and it would be an honor to serve alongside the district council members to make our neighborhood a place for all to call home.