Benanav leaving St. Paul City Council

class=img_thumbleft>St. Paul City Council member Jay Benanav will not seek re-election this year. The Fourth Ward councilman, who lost a mayoral bid to Randy Kelly by just 403 votes in 2001, has represented the western St. Paul district for a decade. "That's a pretty good run on the council," says Benanav. "I think it's just time to let people with new ideas and new energy step in."

Last year Benanav unsuccessfully attempted to oust Ramsey County District Court Judge Elena Ostby. He secured just 41 percent of the vote. The DFL'er says he's uncertain exactly what he'll do next. "I've been practicing law now for a number of years part time," he notes. "That's an option, to just expand that."

Benanav's decision leaves a wide-open contest for the city council post. Three candidates, all Democrats, have already filed to run: Russ Stark, executive director of Midway Transportation Management Organization; labor activist Bernie Hesse; and veteran DFL operative Randy Schubring. Benanav says he will support whichever candidate secures the party's endorsement.