It's a year that could swing the city in some really interesting directions, though, because so many of these races are wide open. Talk to your friends. It's a lot of work to research candidates, but there are some very interesting options. (Unless you're friends with this dude: http://storify.com/crz/failing-to-s
I apologize in advance if I sound a little punchy tonight (or if I have any particularly hilarious typos). I have a really bad headache. It's 11:30 at night as I'm starting this, and going to bed would be a logical thing to do right now, but I know from experience that when I have a headache like this, going to bed just means that I will lie awake, thinking about how my head hurts. I might as well stay up and do something distracting. Eventually, either my head will stop hurting, or I'll be so tired I can barely keep my eyes open, and at that point I'll go to bed. We'll see if that happens before or after I finish these writeups.
Website is here: http://www.dickfranson.com/
A ten-second glance at his website will probably tell you that this guy is a nut of the "perennial candidate" variety, given that the first page of his website suggests electing him to the U.S. Senate in 2012 as well as Council Member, he also wants you to elect him Mayor in 2013 though he didn't file since I guess, unfairly, they only want you to run for one office at a time, and if you click around the site at all you'll also find him pitching himself as MN Secretary of State. Basically, his hobbies are running for office, and complaining about the fact that no one takes him seriously.
Website is here: http://www.andrewmpls.com/
Based on the signage in the neighborhood, I'd say that Andrew Johnson is the front-runner. I'd thought he was endorsed by the DFL, but he isn't; they didn't endorse anyone in Ward 12. He is, however, endorsed by lots of popular local politicians, including R.T., Gary Schiff, and Wes Skoglund, and various subcategories of the DFL.
One of his big issues has been unnecessarily complicated regulations for small businesses, and managed to personally get one regulation changed -- the requirement that restaurants and bars have two gender-specific bathrooms even if they're one-person-at-a-time bathrooms with a locking door. (Comments on the article include a bunch of irate women who'd rather stand in a long line than have to share a bathroom with men. You know, I've used gender-neutral bathrooms many times and I've also, frankly, used the one marked "men's" on occasion, and I'm sort of wondering what these ladies are picturing because I don't think men are THAT disgusting. Also, most restaurants that want to keep their customers clean their bathrooms pretty regularly, so I think the concerns of the fastidious ladies are overblown.
I will admit that a candidate who looks at the regulations and went specifically after a particular regulation that annoys small business owners warms my heart. It's rare that you see such specificity, and it suggest a willingness to dig in really try to change things, which I approve of. He also organized people to lobby for the Surly Bill, and that article is really worth clicking over for as it paints a picture of Andrew as someone who got involved mostly out of genuine outrage at obstructionist big lobbyists, and who can bring together a very diverse crowd of activists.
You know what? This guy would have my vote, if I still lived in Ward 12. He has stances I'm not crazy about (he's pro-streetcar) but overall I like his approach and I think he'll do a good job for Minneapolis.
Website here: http://benforward12.org/
Ben Gisselman says that he's in favor of essential services, green space, good schools, jobs, and development. (It's good to see people taking the really controversial stances. Since I've been grousing about mayoral candidates talking about schools, let me just note that council members have even less to do with schools than the mayor. He does kind of acknowledge that ("I also look forward to doing what I can to continue to improve the quality and attendance of our local public schools....I plan to do whatever possible to ensure that I have the best working relationship I can with the School Board to ensure that our schools can continue to improve and so that Minneapolis Public Schools can be competitive with the rest of our region.") He wants to "toe the line on excessive spending" (I think he means he wants to hold the line. I'm guessing.)
But yeah, not a ton of specifics other than that he is anti-municipalization. (Andrew Johnson is pro-municipalization, although with caveats about doing an honest analysis of costs.)
There are a couple of other things that turned up when I went hunting for more info. He's a lawyer -- specifically, he's a divorce attorney, which I have to admit I view as a pretty significant negative. This may be very unfair; it's one of those unpleasant jobs that someone has to do, right? But, yeah, you know -- divorce lawyers have a certain reputation. He and his wife got married about a year ago; I found the wedding website, which is still up. It didn't make me hate them, which is a point in his favor.
Not in his favor is the fact that he and his wife hosted a meet-and-greet for Mark Andrew. If you're one of the (many) people who's nervous about Mark Andrew, you definitely will not want to vote for this guy, since presumably he'll be a firm ally of Mark's on the City Council.
Website is here: http://www.twelfthward.org/ ...dude. No one had registered that? I'm kind of appalled.
Chris's catchphrase is, "Common Sense. Uncommon Name." Which is maybe a slightly risky catchphrase when one of your opponents is named Gisselman. Though people definitely will not get him mixed up with Andrew Johnson, and to be fair, Lautenschlager (which means "lute player," apparently) is definitely the most memorably unusual name in the race.
Chris is endorsed by the Minneapolis Greens, although he kind of buries that on his website. This may be a mistake. When you bury your party affiliation, people around here sometimes assume you're a Republican and you're hiding it. On the other hand, if you look at his issues, you're not going to make that mistake for very long. He's actually far enough to the left that even though I consider myself a Progressive, his stances start to make me nervous. For instance, he's pro-bike and talks about "lessening the privileged position that automobiles have occupied for generations." I'm also pro-bike, but when people phrase it that way, I worry that they're going to try to force people out of their cars by making it a massive pain to drive. I like biking. I am in favor of funding transit. But I'm mostly a recreational biker, honestly, and if I actually need to get somewhere, I want to be able to use my car and have it not be incredibly annoying. Does that make me part of the problem? Probably, but you know, I live in the (other) city, in a walkable neighborhood of reasonable density and we drive way less than suburbanites, so cut me some slack.
He clearly thinks Andrew Johnson is the front-runner. Chris's Facebook site (here: https://www.facebook.com/twelfthwar
Perhaps I'm taking this personally because if I ran for office, imagine the sort of stuff people could pull out of this blog. Out-of-context sarcasm! Random acts of cluelessness!! Disrespect for deeply-held religious beliefs!!!
A few other notes on Chris: you can find an interview with him here, along with a photo, and boy, does he have a piercing stare. Also, on the front page of his website, he has an aerial image of the 12th Ward with his house circled, I think. The photo looks kind of odd and I think it might be a vintage postcard; he mentions somewhere that he collects vintage postcards.
Website is here: http://www.charliecasserly.com/
He describes himself as a "common sense independent," which in this context probably means "closet Republican," but I'm really not sure given that the only other thing he tells you about himself is that he was born and raised in the 12th Ward. I went hunting for other information and found that he owns a web design company. Website is here, and you know, you really should go and look. http://www.casserlymedia.com/ Charles Casserly has been a web designer since 1996, and doesn't appear to have changed his design approach or techniques since 1996, either.
So yeah, I'd view his crimes against design to be a reason not to vote for him, but the main reason not to vote for him as that beyond "local grown" there's absolutely no indication of what you're getting. (Oh, I think I found him on Facebook, and he'd "Liked" the group "Viking Fans for an Outdoor Stadium," which might also be a reason to vote against him, although if you look at my Facebook you'll see that I've "Liked" Jackie Cherryhomes for Mayor because I wanted to keep tabs on all the major candidates and so I liked all of them because that's what you do on Facebook to follow a page.)
Barring major revelations about the candidates, I'd say I'd rank them as follows:
1. Andrew Johnson
2. Chris Lautenschlager
3. Ben Gisselman
(Mark Andrew really makes me nervous.)
My head still hurts, it's 1 a.m., and I'm not sure I'm exhausted enough to go to sleep but I may try. I hope this was coherent....
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