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Election 2013, Volume 4, Issue 5: Minneapolis City Council, Ward 9

October 22nd, 2013 (10:13 pm)

Minneapolis Ward 9 is where huge number of my Minneapolis friends live -- it includes a big chunk of Longfellow (though not the chunk I lived in) and a big chunk of Powderhorn and pretty much all of Corcoran (if I'm reading the map right). It's been represented by Gary Schiff, who is pretty popular with his constituents, but he stepped down to run for Mayor, and then ended up endorsing Betsy Hodges instead of running.

I actually have no clue who's endorsed, if anyone, but I have faith in my googling skills. Here's who's on the ballot:

Ty Moore (Socialist Alternative)
Gregory McDonald (Democratic-Farmer-Labor)
Abdi Abdulle (Democratic-Farmer-Labor)
Alondra Cano (Democratic-Farmer-Labor)
Charles Curtis (Politics with Principle)
Pat Fleetham (Democratic-Farmer-Labor)

Ty Moore (Socialist Alternative)

Ty Moore lists himself as a socialist, but is also endorsed by the Greens. I find it interesting that he went with "Socialist Alternative" on the ballot rather than "Green" -- has the Green brand just gotten too corporate? Ty Moore is a genuinely serious candidate, unlike most of the people who list as socialists ("serious" as in "the dude has actual yard signs that I've seen when driving around Powderhorn").

He wants a $15/hour minimum wage, an end to corporate welfare ("City Council's $678 million give-away to billionaire Zigi Wilf for his Vikings stadium is just the tip of the iceberg") and for the city to use eminent domain to seize foreclosed homes from banks. (Also, he wants the city to refuse to use police resources for evictions "until quality housing is treated as a basic human right.") He wants to allow non-citizens to vote in city elections (actually, looking at this, he says "extend voting rights in city elections to all Minneapolis residents who live, work, and pay taxes here," which also suggests that working minor teens should be allowed to vote). On public safety, he says that good youth employment options are the best public safety measure and so "the city should create hundreds of living-wage, part-time union jobs for young people, providing necessary community services."

He's a little vague about where the money would come from for hundreds of living-wage part-time union jobs for teenagers. Raising the citywide minimum wage to $15/hour would cause the city to lose a lot of the jobs that currently employ teenagers because it's relatively easy to relocate a business to the suburbs. (If you raise a minimum wage statewide, this is also a risk, but a lower one. Basically, the smaller the entity that's making it a little more expensive for businesses to do their thing, the easier it is for them to move elsewhere. I favor a higher minimum wage on the state level and the federal level but really not on the city level.) I think probably the policy suggestion here that I most dislike is for the city to refuse to do evictions. It's an appealing idea when you're talking about homeowners who've been screwed over by predatory loans and are losing their houses to foreclosure. But people also get evicted from rental property and sometimes it's for PROFOUNDLY legitimate reasons like that they were an asshole who was threatening their neighbors, smoking in a non-smoking building, or keeping an aggressive dog in violation of their lease.

Many (most? I'm not actually sure about the percentage) of the landlords in Minneapolis are small business people who own a handful of units. Some own duplexes and live in one of the units. Many depend on the rental income to pay the mortgage on the house. If you make it impossible for people to evict tenants for not paying rent, no one in their right mind will become a landlord and the problem of affordable housing in Minneapolis will very quickly get much, much, MUCH worse.

I guess you could say that my fundamental issue with this guy is that I'm not a socialist.

He could totally win this, so don't vote for him unless you actually want him as your City Council rep.

Gregory McDonald (Democratic-Farmer-Labor)

Greg McDonald has a website. He sure does. It has a URL and a home page and everything. Well, maybe not "everything," if by "everything" you might mean things like "policy statements" or "a contact address." But it is TOTALLY a website and, in case you were wondering when Election Day will be, the website will tell you.

Abdi Abdulle (Democratic-Farmer-Labor)

Hey, it's another Abdi! This one's a real candidate. I would say that his distinctive feature is that he thinks the City Council rep should have a neighborhood office where they spend most of their time, which is an interesting if somewhat impractical idea -- there's a reason you put everyone in city hall, which is that while it's important to listen to your constituents, you actually work with the other City Council members and you should have an office near your coworkers. (I think a somewhat more practical approach would be to hold an "office evening" at a local cafe on a weekly basis, although let me just note that I imagine there's a reason most City Councillors don't do this, which is that a disproportionate number of the people who would show up for something like that are precisely the constituents you most want to avoid. Would YOU go to coffee with an aggressive 9/11 Truther? WHAT IF THEY WERE ONE OF YOUR CONSTITUENTS? Yeah, me either.)

I found a Star Tribune blog post about a candidate forum (which Greg McDonald didn't show up for) and I would characterize most of Abdulle's answers as "comfortably vague." He wants to "find a solution to the gap between the city, the police, and the community members." On the issue of protecting tenants from awful landlords, he says that "citizens need to be part of the solution." Usually, I think that vague platitudes are an attempt to not piss people off, but he also stood up for Xcel, which is probably NOT a winning move in the 9th Ward. So, who knows.

I'd probably go for Ty Moore over Abdi Abdulle since at least he's willing to embrace specific ideas.

Alondra Cano (Democratic-Farmer-Labor)

Alondra Cano is the DFL-endorsed candidate, but I missed that when I first looked at her website because she puts it in cursive script at the top and I guess I have started just mentally filtering that sort of thing out as being probably just decorative. I clicked on her Endorsements page, and she doesn't mention the DFL endorsement there. Dear Alondra: maybe you should put it on your endorsements page, just in case?

She's worked as an aide in City Hall, apparently. For Lilligren. Now she works for the school district. She's an immigrant from Mexico.

If you visit her website, she's got little essays "on the issues" which get into some decent specifics (although she's still fond of platitudes, like saying she'll bring stakeholders together to find solutions on various issues without, you know, actually talking about the sort of solutions she'll push for...) I like that she specifically mentions finding a permanent home for the Midtown Farmer's Market, which is definitely a priority for me even though I've moved out of Minneapolis. (It is a FANTASTIC farmer's market that incidentally accepts EBT and brings fresh, farm-raised vegetables into a poor neighborhood. There is absolutely nothing not to like here, so to be fair, this is a little like saying that you favor petting kittens. Mentioning it on her website, though, at least elevates it to a PRIORITY and the Midtown Farmer's Market is a specific kitten I'm very attached to.)

She was one of the LEADERS in trying to buy out Xcel, but let's face it, in Ward 9, that's practically the conservative position. (I don't know who the Republicans vote for in Ward 9, but I'm actually not sure whether any Republicans live in Ward 9. If so, I imagine they avoid political conversations at the neighborhood barbecues. It would just lead to a lot of awkwardness.)

Charles Curtis (Politics with Principle)

Let me start by saying that I hate his mustache. I KNOW, IT'S SHALLOW TO START WITH THAT, I'M SORRY. If he had a full-on scruffy beard I would probably withhold judgment because hey, maybe he hates shaving? But he's obviously shaving anyway, just not the upper lip.

The fact that he wasn't claiming to be a Democrat (or a Socialist!) made me wonder if he was a closet Republican. I imagine that probably half of the dozen or so Republicans living in Ward 9 will totally vote for him because NOT A DEMOCRAT but his website makes it clear that he totally is a Democrat which makes me think that putting "Politics with Principle" after his name on the ballot was pure snottiness on his part. Yeah, that Ty Moore: he is ALL ABOUT DOING FAVORS FOR DEVELOPERS, that unprincipled pig. Alondra Cano: SUCH A SELLOUT.

(At least they don't have mustaches although Ty Moore has a scruffy hipster goatee. It's still better than Charles Curtis's mustache.)

He does, however, understand why a city-based minimum wage is a stupid idea. (Also, that article notes that it's an open question whether the city CAN raise the minimum wage on its own; Gary Schiff rather snarkily says that this idea suggests that Ty Moore doesn't actually understand the job he's running for.)

His statement on safety focuses on domestic violence (apparently he used to work as a prosecutor and that's what he prosecuted). He wants a residency requirement for newly hired Minneapolis police officers (I'm not sure that'll help, but it probably won't hurt). He wants the Minneapolis animal shelter to be a no-kill shelter. (Here's the thing about every no-kill shelter I've encountered -- if you need someone to take your cat today, they can't. They don't have space. There are good ways and bad ways to discourage surrenders -- the Animal Humane Societies in the area have started requiring people to make appointments, which makes it little harder and gives them an opportunity to do some counseling and figure out if there's a way they can help you keep your animal. On the other hand, if you need to surrender your cat because you were just evicted from your apartment and you're moving in with your sister who has a cat allergy and lives in a building with a no-pets policy, you really need a place that can take your cat TODAY.) San Francisco has a no-kill public shelter; when I looked at their website, it says that if you adopted your pet from the shelter, they'll always take it back; they'll take kittens and puppies if they were born in SF; and they may be able to accept your cat or dog that you got from somewhere else.

When no one will take surrenders, you increase the abandonments. It's a balance, and just saying, "animals deserve it!" is not really a useful way to frame the issue, IMO.

He opposes municipalization of utilities for the same reason I do (i.e., the city already does a lot of things really badly, so let's not add "electricity" to the list). He wants to rehab existing homes, and notes that seizing foreclosed homes via eminent domain is essentially a city-paid bailout of the bank (since you don't actually get to just TAKE the property -- you have to pay fair market value for it).

So -- he's totally a Democrat but from the Republican perspective might be the least of the available evils? Except for the mustache. (You know, he's extremely young looking; possibly he grew his mustache because he was hoping to stop getting carded every time he ordered a beer. I bet it's not working.)

Pat Fleetham (Democratic-Farmer-Labor)

Pat's website has a section on goals for the ward; he starts with #4 (traffic calming on Cedar Ave), then #3 (raise the minimum wage to $9.50), then #2 (a housing renewal program to fix up distressed properties.) And then it stops, so I have no idea what his #1 goal is.

He also has an "Issues that Matter" section, so I guess these are the issues he thinks matter: safer streets; enforcement of environmental regulations; traffic calming and prohibition of heavy trucks on Cedar Ave; improved access to transportation; better traffic control; addressing housing stock; developing employment opportunities; plan to replace "fading grey industries" with green jobs; term limits for City Council.

I'm going to say given how much he highlights it that he's running for City Council because he's really annoyed by Cedar Avenue. (Although to be fair, he also really hates the garbage burner.)

Of all the Minneapolis wards, Ward 9 is the one that most reminds me of Madison. Reading some of these platforms has filled me with the weird of mix of nostalgia and loathing that I get whenever I read an editorial page from a Madison paper.

So! If I lived in Ward 9, I think I would vote for Alondra Cano first. She's solidly progressive and has good connections at City Hall. My second choice would probably be Charles Curtis, despite my irritation with his party name and his facial hair; he has an actual campaign organization and most of his views line up with mine. #3, well, the fact is, it doesn't matter; Pat, Abdi, and Gregory aren't going to win, so I might as well list Ty Moore as #3 so that when I send him an irate e-mail later I can claim to have voted for him.

Election 2013 Index of Posts


Posted by: Fighting Crime with a Giant Dandelion Since 2013 (pameladean)
Posted at: October 23rd, 2013 03:47 am (UTC)
Libellula julia

If you have the bit between your teeth and have the time, I'd love to see what you think of Ward 8. I don't think it's as interesting as these others, so I'll understand if you decline.


Posted by: Naomi (naomikritzer)
Posted at: October 23rd, 2013 04:21 am (UTC)

Elizabeth Glidden is running unopposed, so I wasn't going to write about that one -- love her or hate her, you're stuck with her for now.

Posted by: Fighting Crime with a Giant Dandelion Since 2013 (pameladean)
Posted at: October 24th, 2013 05:57 pm (UTC)
Libellula julia

Oh, good grief. I've been so befuddled by the mayoral race that I just assumed that her opponent was too incompetent to send me any election material.


Posted by: coho29 (coho29)
Posted at: October 23rd, 2013 12:50 pm (UTC)

Again with the imminent municipalization? :)

I don't think "trying to buy out Xcel" is the fairest characterization. I feel like Xcel will steer negotiations any way it wants to, unless the city takes steps to assert its side. I think of it as a little bit like CM Tuthill's patio ordinance, only with a faceless multi-zillion dollar for-profit corporation/climate change instead of human restaurateurs/a few drunken customers. An old friend who's in the wind energy biz told me that renewables don't fit well with for-profit utility business models; there's reason to believe that Xcel will need some serious prodding to give us energy that's both clean and affordable.</p>

Anyway, thank you for yet another set of comprehensive profiles. I may end up preferring Alondra even more than you do :)

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