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Naomi [userpic]

Election 2012: Soil & Water, Minneapolis

October 17th, 2012 (09:33 pm)


Let me note that information on the Soil & Water people was even harder to come by this year than it usually is. In prior years there was a questionnaire that at least a handful of candidates would respond to; I searched this year and found absolutely nothing. Moreover, I attempted to contact several candidates and got no response at all. In fact, there's one that's an incumbent. You would think he'd have an e-mail address associated with his office, but you'd be wrong.

If you google "Hennepin County bicycle advisory committee," you find this page, which lists names and has an e-mail address and phone number to contact. You'll also find their meeting minutes. This isn't an elected board; the county has a bunch of citizen advisory boards and you can volunteer to serve on them. One of them is the Bicycle Advisory Committee. There's also

If you google "Hennepin County soil and water supervisors" you find a bunch of sites that promise election info (but don't actually have anything beyond a list of filings) and the Fraters Libertas endorsements from two years ago. If you go to page two? You find MY endorsements from two years ago.

So here is a note to whomever wins: look, step up. If you hold elected office, people should be able to contact you. When I googled for Haefs, who's an incumbent, I at least found the web page that should have popped up for my prior search but there's no way to contact any of you. You are elected officials, for crying out loud. I do not expect you to carry a cell phone around the clock like that legislative candidate in St. Paul promised to do; all I want is an e-mail address. That's really not asking for much. (Also, there's no excuse for the fact that searching for "soil and water supervisor" doesn't bring me to your page.)


There are three contested races.

Brian T. Peterson
Marjorie Holsten

I know nothing about Brian Peterson, but Marjorie Holsten is a Tea Partier. So I'll take my chances on Brian.

Jeremy Haefs
Eleonore Wesserle

I am endorsing Eleonore Wesserle. Haefs is endorsed by Republicans (who apparently were able to find more information about him than I was) (SEE UPDATE BELOW about the Republican thing.) Eleonore works for the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, which sounds like relevant experience, and she volunteers for the Heart of the Beast Theater Mayday Parade, which automatically makes her cool.

She did not respond to the e-mail I sent her through the contact link on the website I linked to. However, I'm not 100% sure that the form actually worked.

I was not able to find any information on contacting Haefs anywhere at all, other than his street address and phone number, which was included in the filing. He's mentioned in the meeting minutes starting with his appointment in June, but the minutes are filled with untranslated acronyms and I was unable to get any sense from these minutes what sorts of positions he holds on anything.

Elected official with no way to contact by e-mail, AND he's endorsed by the Republicans. That's two strikes one definite strike against him, so I'm going to vote for Eleonore unless someone gives me information I didn't have before.

UPDATE 10/22. I got an e-mail today from a Republican who had spotted this post and wanted to correct my impression that (a) they had endorsed Haefs, and (b) they had more information on Haefs than I did.

The SD-48 Sample Ballot (which I'd found googling) is divided into two sections (and I totally failed to notice this) -- there are endorsements (Mitt Romney and on down) but also a section of "recommendations," which were the result of researching information on the candidates and picking the one that seemed like the best fit for their constituency. Haefs was a recommendation, not an endorsement.

You know how I said, "I know nothing about Brian Peterson, but Marjorie Holsten is a Tea Partier. So I'll take my chances on Brian"? Apparently they had exercised pretty much the exact same thought process in reverse regarding Wesserle vs Haefs. They knew nothing about Haefs, but Wesserle was clearly not their cup of (organic fair trade) tea, so they recommended Haefs.

And fair enough! So that leaves me with two candidates, one of whom is the incumbent but has no contact information anywhere, and one of whom is running for office and does have contact information but doesn't respond to her e-mail messages.

I'm probably still going to vote for Wesserle, but frankly, I'm really not happy voting for either.

Andrew K. Moller
Richard B. Strong

Strong is a sustainability professor at the University of Minnesota and replied promptly to my e-mail, the only candidate to do so. I found an Andrew K. Moller on Twitter, and registered for Twitter so that I could Tweet at him and attempt to get in touch with him that way, but he didn't reply.

So I am going to vote for Strong.

Although I will note something else, which is that apparently the legislature has several times considered legislation to just dissolve the board entirely and hand its duties over to the County Board. (Here's a PDF of the Conservation District board's statement arguing against this.) They say that a citizen board, especially an elected citizen board, provides transparency. Except guys, you're incredibly difficult to find on the web and there's no way to e-mail you. Moreover, let's revisit my endorsements in 2008 and 2010 and then look again at that list of board members.

District 1 is currently represented by Jeremy Haefs. He was appointed in June or July of this year.

District 2 is represented by Erik Cedarleaf Dahl, who is the Chair. He was appointed to the board in 2012 (and apparently his term ends in 2014; I'm not sure why he's not up for election this cycle).

District 3 is vacant. I'm not sure how long this has been true. It appears that Amber Collette was on the board and then at some point in the summer stopped being on the board, but I'm not sure if that was her seat. She actually ran for District 2, lost, but wound up appointed and on the board anyway at some point.

District 4 is represented by Richard Strong, who was appointed to the board in 2012.

District 5 is represented by Jeffrey Beck, who alone of all the board members was elected, in 2008. His term ends this year and he is not running for re-election (the guy in that district is running unopposed.)

I don't know why this is an elected board, but in any case, the elective nature of this board is entirely theoretical. I'm not convinced that they need to exist at all and this can't be handled by the Hennepin County Commissioners. Given that, I should probably go ahead and vote for the Tea Partier, because she's probably running for it to try to get rid of it (they DO cost money -- everyone gets a $50 stipend per meeting). But I loathe the Tea Party movement so thoroughly that I'm unwilling to give a Tea Party politician even the tiny shred of credibility offered by holding this particular elected office.

If she really wants to do the job, though, she can stick around, and within two months there'll be a vacant seat and she'll be able to get appointed, because that just seems to be how it works.

UPDATE 11/2/12: This race was covered in the Star Tribune voter's guide! Also, Wesserle e-mailed me back. You can get the scoop in a separate post, here.

Naomi [userpic]

Election 2012: Minneapolis School Board, St. Paul Levy

October 17th, 2012 (09:45 pm)

Unless I've forgotten a race, or suddenly get a flurry of useful new information, this should be the last post and then I'm going to do a Grand Post of Links to put up on Facebook.

Minneapolis is having a school board race. The two candidates are Carla Bates (incumbent) and Doug Mann. I'm going to vote for Carla Bates. I explained my rationale here on my post about the primary so I'll just C&P:

Carla Bates is the incumbent. Despite being deeply unimpressed by the Minneapolis School Board overall, I have a strong pro-incumbent bias because almost no one wants to do this job more than once. They get paid $13,800/year; they generally work far more than 40 hours a week; and everyone hates them. Getting blamed for everything that goes wrong with the Minneapolis public school is pretty much the job, right there.

Anyway, the typical candidate comes on to the board bright-eyed and optimistic, is crushed into misery and despair within months (maybe weeks), and decides not to run again because really, being hated by 387,753 people for $13,800/year is a shitty gig. And the net result is a complete lack of institutional memory that makes a not-terribly-effective school board even less effective. So if someone wants to do it more than once? Unless I really, really hate them I'm probably going to vote for them.

I'm pretty sure Carla Bates has pissed me off, but I can't remember what she did so it can't have been all that bad. Therefore, she gets my vote.

In St. Paul, there's a school levy referendum. The "Vote Yes for St. Paul Kids!" signs are apparently worrying to the Vote No campaign, and I've seen quite a few yards with both a purple Vote Yes sign and an orange Vote No sign.

I am in favor of the levy. It is mostly a renewal of an existing levy; the proposed increase is very small. Funding schools well is IMO a win for everyone. So vote NO on both amendments, but (if you live in St. Paul) YES on the school funding levy.

Naomi [userpic]

ELECTION 2012: My Endorsements for Minneapolis and St. Paul

October 17th, 2012 (09:59 pm)

I did all the research: now you can just follow my bidding and vote like I will (or would).
National and Statewide Races
President: Barack Obama
U.S. Senator: Amy Klobuchar
(Anti-)Marriage Amendment: No
Photo ID Amendment: No 
U.S. House for Minneapolis and St. Paul
U.S. Representative, District 5: Keith Ellison
U.S. Representative, District 4: Betty McCollum
State Legislative Races
MN State Senate, District 63: Patricia Torres-Ray
MN State House, District 63A: Jim Davnie
MN State Senate, District 64: Dick Cohen
MN State House, District 64B: Michael Paymar
Soil and Water Conservation District, Ramsey County
Soil and Water Supervisor District 2: Gwen Willems
Soil and Water Supervisor District 5: Matt Ledvina
Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court
Lorie Skjerven Gildea
All the Other Judicial Races

Minneapolis only:
4TH DISTRICT COURT -- JUDGE 22: Elizabeth V. Cutter
Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisors, Hennepin County
...but it totally doesn't matter who you vote for, this board has more turnover than a pancake house.
Minneapolis School Board, St. Paul School Levy
Minneapolis School Board: Carla Bates
St. Paul School Levy: Yes

You can click the links for my full rationale, or just take me at my word and print off this post for quick reference when you go to the polls! (Although if you live anywhere other than 63A or 64B, you will still have some races to check on). DON'T FORGET TO VOTE ON NOVEMBER 6TH.

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