Two-time mayor of West St. Paul says goodbye, again


At the final meeting of 2016 and his final meeting as mayor, Dave Meisinger (right) was presented a plaque for his service to the city by council member Ed Iago.

For maybe the last time, Dave Meisinger adjourned the West St. Paul council meeting on Dec. 12, 2016. This meeting marked the end of this second term as mayor.

“It’s been another two-year adventure for me,” Meisinger said at his final meeting.

 

Couldn’t stay away

Meisinger, 49, first joined the council in 1996, before running for mayor in 2001.

“I just through I could do a better job as mayor than the mayor we had at the time,” he said.

The biggest reason Meisinger ran once more in 2015 was the Robert Street Project. He said he thought views against the project weren’t being heard, saying the city’s support for the work was “propaganda.”

“The people opposed to it knew their voice wasn t heard,” Meisinger said.

At that final meeting, Meisinger said he isn’t the type of person who sits at home yelling at the TV — he said he’d rather be at a meeting yelling into the microphone.

Meisinger said he didn’t approach his second term any differently than he did his first, except for the fact that he knew what he was getting into. He said the first time someone becomes mayor, they don’t know how extreme the demands on their time and energy will be.

This was part of the reason he didn’t run for a second term right after completing his first term in the early-2000s — things at home were getting busier as his young children got older.

“The amount of commitment of being mayor was overwhelming at the time,” Meisinger said.

 

Looking back and looking forward

Between his two terms as mayor, Meisinger said he was an advocate for taxpayers from day one. 

“I’d rather be known as the guy who saved tax money instead of spending it,” he said.

He added he forced the rebid of the Marie Avenue project that saved the city more than $200,000. Meisinger also said he negotiated cutting more than $650,000 out of the second phase of the Robert Street project.

Meisinger said he has friends on the council as well as enemies and all the while, he enjoyed working with the council to accomplish things.

“I think we accomplished a lot in the last two years, physical-wise in town, plus financial, in town,” he said.

Meisinger said he was in a position where he was in the minority on the council, and the new mayor, Jenny Halverson, will be in the same position.

“It should be interesting times for her,” he said. 

Meisinger said he encourages Halverson and any other future mayors of West St. Paul to listen to residents. He said the city is diverse, both economically and racially. 

Meisinger pointed out that the last two elections have been decided by a couple of percentage points. 

“There’s not a majority in this town, so to speak,” he said. 

At the council meeting, Halverson thanked Meisinger for his time and service. Council member Dick Vitelli echoed those sentiments. 

Council member Dave Napier complimented Meisinger on how he ran meetings.

“You’re very organized and thorough on your reports, and I appreciated that,” Napier said. “Thanks for putting in two years of your time to the city of West St. Paul.”

At the end of the meeting, council member Ed Iago said Meisinger has been part of the council four times, either as mayor or as a councilmember. 

“You may want to get a part time job here or something,” Iago joked.

For his involvement with the Robert Street project, Iago presented Meisinger a print of the “Shop Robert” shirt with a message from the Robert Street Business Association.

In an interview, Iago said Meisinger is a person who loves the city and did what he thought was best for the community. He recalled one of the many fundraising events Meisinger participated in. Iago said the then-mayor had to convince a 103-year-old citizen that it was OK to throw a pie in the mayor’s face.

“Witnessing that conversation before a large group of residents was indeed entertaining,” Iago said.

 

Future plans

After his first term more than a decade ago, Meisinger said he decided he wasn’t going to run again — “I’m not going to be foolish enough to say that again,” he chuckled.

He said he gets bored easily and needs something to occupy his time. There will be a lot of seats up in the upcoming years’ elections, including county commissioner and state representative, Meisinger said. 

“Who knows where I’ll be? Time will tell,” he said.

Meisinger, who was born and raised in West St. Paul, thanked residents for the opportunity to serve them. He also said he will continue to serve them in any capacity he can find. 

He also wished the new council good luck.

“Hopefully they can continue to make West St. Paul a great place to live,” he said.

 

Hannah Burlingame can be reached at 651-748-7824 or hburlingame@lillienews.com.

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