Naomi (naomikritzer) wrote,

Election 2013, Volume 4, Issue 3: Minneapolis City Council, Ward 10. Meg Tuthill vs. Lisa Bender

So, we're getting into the home stretch of the election and interestingly, people honestly have NO IDEA who's going to win. When I chat with Minneapolis friends I often ask them who they're voting for and most of them haven't decided and don't know much about the candidates.

If you're one of the people who's reading this because you want to see if my opinions mesh with yours (as opposed to one of the people reading because you're hoping I did your homework for you) and you have a strong attachment to a particular candidate, I would STRONGLY suggest that you TALK TO YOUR FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS and ask them to vote for your favorite. Chances are excellent that they haven't been paying attention to the race, and if you talk to them, they'll figure, "well, he always shovels his walk promptly and I like his dog. Sure, I'll vote for his mayoral candidate for my first choice. Or at least my second choice, or my third choice." For that matter, if you don't have a yard sign for your candidate, put one up! This could be a race where the yard signs actually matter.

Anyway! Today I'm going to write about the Ward 10 race. There are four people running:

Meg Tuthill (DFL, Incumbent)
Scott Hargarten (Pirate Party)
Nate Griggs (Independence)
Lisa Bender (DFL, endorsed by the DFL)

Meg Tuthill

Looking at Meg's website, the first thing that makes me raise my eyebrow is this statement: "She has been one of the Council's strongest supporters of the City's firefighters and police." In a city that has had some serious ongoing issues of police misconduct, saying that you're one of the "strongest supporters of the police" without any caveats makes me think you might be kind of an asshole. She's endorsed by the Police Federation, making me further concerned that she's not a great person to have weighing the costs vs. benefits of the current oversight system.

Also, she voted for the stadium. You know, one of the things that has made me happy in this election is that a LOT of the Council Members who voted for the Vikings Stadium deal have paid a political price for it (or are on the brink of doing so).

She's in favor of snow shoveling, she's opposed to cars running over pedestrians, and she's in favor of re-opening Nicollet at Lake Street. I don't think any of these are particularly controversial stances.

One of the other things that strikes me about her website is that for lots of the warm, cozy, kittens-and-unicorns stances, she says she "supports" or "favors" stuff, not that she worked on it in any way. "Meg supports increased recycling by Minneapolis residents and businesses by switching to single sort recycling. East Calhoun was one of the two neighborhoods chosen for the single sort pilot program, which was a huge success. Citywide implementation of single sort recycling began in November 2012 and will be completed in April 2013." Note the lack of agency here -- she wants you to think she deserves credit for the implementation of single-sort, but she's not actually claiming it. I doubt that's out of modesty.

Moving on. Meg failed to get endorsement at the DFL Convention; she'd previously said that she would suspend her campaign if she failed to get endorsement, and then a month later jumped back in the race. (I had this memory of her insisting that she'd said she would "suspend" her campaign and she hadn't said for how long! and she DID suspend it and now she was un-suspending it so shut up with your complaining. However, I think I may actually be remembering something an entirely different candidate did. Possibly in another state. Meg's statement is all about how people were calling and begging her to keep running so IT'S THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE and we need STABILITY in the 10th Ward, which is totally why she ran in the first place four years ago against an incumbent, who incidentally bowed out of the race because she got the endorsement.) (Edited to add: found it! "The Uptown convention may prove to be the most decisive, since Tuthill pledged during the proceedings to suspend her campaign if someone else took the endorsement. When Bender won after five ballots, however, Tuthill questioned what 'suspend' really meant. 'It didn't say for how long, it didn't say permanently, it didn't say for 20 minutes, it didn't say for four years,' Tuthill said. 'I don't know.'")

The City Pages describes her as a patio-hating joykill and has the audio of an incredibly snotty, patronizing voicemail she left for a would-be brewpub owner. She's a patio-hating joykill because she picked a fight with the Uptown restaurants in 2011 over patios. Her website talks about "finding balance" and yeah, I can imagine that if you live in Uptown it's probably annoying to deal with parking problems and late-night noise, but you know, you chose to live in Uptown and for the vast majority of Uptown residents, there was a thriving restaurant/bar district up the block when they moved in, so my sympathy is limited. (Apparently there was/is a particular business that generated a lot of obnoxious drunks. So, you know, there are ways to deal with businesses that generate surplus obnoxious drunks that don't take down all the other nearby businesses.

(Her defense of both the patronizing voicemail and her patio-hatred is here, if you're interested.)

Anyway. I have lived in Minneapolis for long enough that I remember when the stretch of Lake Street that was east of 35W and west of Hiawatha was a miserable stretch of mostly-empty buildings, broken up by the occasional "Checks Cashed Here!" place. (That's not Uptown; Uptown was already doing pretty well when I moved to town. But that stretch on the border of Powderhorn and Phillips was in terrible shape.) Meg says that Uptown doesn't need to be revitalized; that it's VITAL and thriving. And it is. But that can change, if you're an arrogant dick to business owners and jerk them around and treat them like the enemy. And as annoying as parking problems undoubtedly are to Uptown residents, a sea of empty buildings just to your north would be a lot worse.

I actually remember the voicemail message from the time, and I would be strongly disinclined to vote for any politician who would respond to a request -- even an unreasonable request, which this IMO was not -- with that sort of condescension and scorn. You can say "no" without being an asshole about it. The fact that she felt the need to be an asshole (and doesn't even apologize for it, in her defense! she basically doubles down!) says a lot about her, none of it good.

Scott Hargarten (Pirate Party)
No website; you can find his Twitter here:

Scott appears to be an Occupy activist. The Pirate Party website says, in its summaries of the candidates, "Scott has advocated for electoral reform and direct democracy for almost 3 years. He has helped found multiple projects dedicated to the involvement of citizens in their democracy, and has advoated for comprehensive campaign finance reform at the state capitol." (Typos theirs.)

The Southwest Journal put together a voter's guide to the ward 10 candidates that doesn't have a lot about him, but says, "Top priorities: Hargarten is promoting the concept of 'liquid democracy.' Policy would be developed through regular community forums." The Pirate Party website talks about Liquid Democracy, which appears to be a project to direct policy decisions by way of Internet polls. That might be a little unfair, but it's hard to say; the first link on that page doesn't work, and the second link (to the Liquid Democracy Beta) gave me a warning that the security certificate was forged and someone might be trying to hack my computer.

I'm not impressed, but I'll admit that I was not expecting to be.

Nate Griggs (Independence)

So, let me just say that I am truly impressed that he scored that particular URL. I really would have expected one of the mayoral candidates to have scooped that up. It's an overly flashy website that's kind of difficult to read, though the "Pro-Love, Pro-Indiana Jones, Anti-Michele-Bachmann" rolling bit on the front page is amusing.

The most important thing to know about Nate Griggs is that according to the campaign Facebook page, he dropped out of the race yesterday due to taking a job that requires relocation. Dear Nate: update your campaign website, not just your Facebook page which lots of people looking for info won't even see.

Lisa Bender (DFL, endorsed by the DFL)

I looked at her Vision statement and she looks like a pretty standard-issue Minneapolis DFLer. Pro-bikes, pro-curbside-composting, pro-small-businesses. She doesn't talk on her website about patios or her ability to respond to phone calls in a non-assholish way, so I'm not sure where exactly she stands on the hot-button issues of Ward 10.

But there's also this excellent interview: There were a couple of pieces here that made me think, "Oh. I would like being represented by her." She talks about improving pedestrian infrastructure: "Pedestrian improvements can be expensive. While it's important to find funding for improvements, this makes it even more important to take advantage of every street construction project possible to improve our pedestrian environment." And -- yeah. That's an excellent way to approach it. A lot of pedestrian improvements actually AREN'T that expensive if they're being done with other stuff, and if you're paying attention, you can improve things in lots of ways. And then this, later, in response to a question about conflict: "One thing that is very important to me is authentic public engagement. I hate the public meetings that are designed to keep everyone quiet and where staff explain what can't be done. I've been in that position myself, and it's important to let people's voices be heard. We learn a lot from hearing our neighbors' priorities and concerns."

So yeah, THAT is important to me.

She also had her second baby on the 14th. Campaigning while pregnant is seriously badass, IMO.

So, the key info:

* Nate Griggs dropped out; this is actually a three person race.
* Scott Hargarten fails the "is this person a real candidate" test (no website of any kind, unless you count Twitter. I don't count Twitter.)
* That leaves Meg Tuthill vs. Lisa Bender. I'm endorsing Lisa. If you really hate Meg Tuthill, mark Nate as your second choice; he'll still be on the ballot and plenty of people don't know he's dropped out. (The bottom line, though, is that it's really Meg vs. Lisa; you don't need to make a second choice unless your first choice is Scott.)

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