The picture I've posted today shows a person of consequence in the metro area, but I would wager that most people don't know who she is. Do you know who she is? If you don't, I'll tell you in a minute. But first, a little history.
For many years there was a popular television quiz show called What's My Line. Four semi-famous panelists (usually including some combination of Bennett Cerf, Dorothy Kilgallen and Arlene Francis) would have to guess the identity of a contestant. The show would often feature famous people, such as Groucho Marx and Alfred Hitchcock, but a typical guest would be someone who was not famous. Sometimes that would include a politician who might not be immediately recognized. For example, an obscure Southern governor apppeared on the show in the early 1970s. He became a little more famous later on.
If the individual appearing in our picture played "What's My Line," I'd wager that a lot of people would have trouble guessing that she was an important political figure in the metro area. She has been in office for over a decade now and represents well over 75,000 people, although her reach greatly exceeds that. She and her colleagues control a significant operating budget each year and have the ability to levy taxes, an ability that she has not hesitated to use over the years. Despite this power, she has maintained a remarkably low profile over her tenure. You don't see her name in the paper much and while she might appear at a political event or two, most of her constituents would have a difficult time identifying her.
Another hint - she works in St. Paul. There are a lot of prominent politicians who work in St. Paul, of course. But most of them work up the street from our mystery guest. She and her colleagues work downtown. Because she works quietly, she doesn't get a lot of attention. And that has served her well, because it has meant that she can go about her business without a lot of scrutiny. More importantly, she has faced minimal opposition. It's about as good a gig as a politician can have - power without a lot of accountability.
But a few things have changed this cycle. She and her colleagues decided last year that they weren't sufficiently appreciated for their low-key operation, so they voted themselves a pretty significant pay increase. They also imposed a sales tax increase this year, one that was authorized by the legislature but did not have to be imposed.
So who is our mystery guest? Our mystery guest is Jan Parker, who represents District 2 of the Ramsey County Board and currently serves as board president.
In a future post I'll introduce you to a gentleman who plans to bring a little scrutiny to the workings of the Ramsey County Board and, if he is elected, actual reform. The gentleman's name is Rick Moses and he deserves strong consideration from the residents of District 2.