This post comes a little late! But I’ve been busy volunteering for a candidate (you should be too!) Election day is Tuesday. This is your abbreviated Wedge LIVE! Voter Guide for competitive city council races in Minneapolis. (For a non-partisan voter guide please see our sister publication, MSP Votes.)
Ward 1 Endorsement: Jillia Pessenda
Pessenda is the credible challenger from the left. Got lots of endorsements, to the point I assumed at one point months ago that Kevin Reich was toast. Pessenda had more delegates than incumbent Reich at the Ward 1 convention. Pessenda believes Minneapolis needs more housing, and has said things that make me think she’s a real ally on zoning reform. Thinks that actually implementing the city’s Complete Streets policy will serve to reconnect Ward 1 to the rest of the city. Pessenda looks to be dependable ally for the Bender/Gordon wing of the city council when it comes to transportation, housing, police reform, and many other issues.
Kevin Reich is a strongly pro-Barb Johnson (Ward 4) incumbent. Will vote with Team Barb on close votes. Has weird habit of using words like “grievable.” Reich doesn’t like it when you point out he voted for Vikings stadium subsidy. Barb sends him campaign donations from her own campaign account.
John Hayden is the fiscally conservative, anti-Vikings stadium crusader in Ward 1. I’d rank him ahead of Reich but that’s because I sometimes enjoy him on Twitter.
Ward 3 Endorsement: Steve Fletcher
Fletcher is good. If you want an ideological model, he roughly fits with Lisa Bender. That means police reform, workplace protections, more housing, good on the environment and transportation (if you’re a fan of walking, biking, bussing). I was very impressed with his Q&A session at the Ward 3 DFL Convention and his performance at candidate forums. Read my longer endorsement of Fletcher here.
You may be wondering why not Socialist Ginger Jentzen? I’ll just say I think her housing platform is unworkable and hugely counterproductive.
Samantha Pree-Stinson is the Green Party candidate in Ward 3.
Definitely do not rank Tim Bildsoe, who is an actual Republican.
Ward 4 Endorsement: Philippe Cunningham
I like Philippe Cunningham’s policy experience in the mayor’s office. Go with him. But certainly rank Stephanie Gasca too.
Incumbent Barb Johnson is just relentlessly terrible. She thinks garage apartments cause prostitution. She spends campaign money on her cable TV, internet, and phone bills. She’s by far the most law-and-order, police-can-do-no-wrong politician in Minneapolis. Which I believe to be a bad thing. We all need to be done with Barb. We need Ward 4 to get it done.
Ward 5 Endorsement: Jeremiah Ellison
Ellison is DFL-endorsed which is an impressive thing to have done against an incumbent (nobody else did it this year). Ellison is an artist, which could be a red flag. But many people tell me he is incredibly smart. I saw him in person at a candidate forum, and that checks out. Politically gifted, which makes sense considering his dad is Keith Ellison. From a distance, I say he’s running an impressive campaign (which is a definite skill to be measured, considering all the candidates out there phoning it in).
Ideologically speaking, Ellison lines up as an ally of the Bender/Gordon wing of the council, so if you like the sound of that, you should love Ellison. I’m optimistic and prepared to love him.
Blong Yang is a close Barb ally, who looks feeble to me, politically speaking. He doesn’t show up to forums. Doesn’t answer candidate questionnaires. He lost the DFL endorsement. Yet still some people tell me he’s on track to win. This makes me less confident in my prediction that Blong is toast. Still, I don’t buy it. Blong Yang gives the appearance of a candidate who is running scared.
One essential Blong Yang story: as chair of the Public Safety committee during the Jamar Clark protests, Yang engaged in a weird procedural move to allow racist police union president Bob Kroll to speak, while excluding dissenting views from the hearing.
Raeisha Williams is also running in Ward 5. I’d rank her ahead of Yang.
Ward 6 Endorsement: Mohamud Noor
I have no reason to believe Mohamud Noor is a great candidate. I didn’t look very hard. Maybe he’s great. I do know he’s become the chosen candidate of Minneapolis progressives (Ilhan Omar, Ray Dehn, other state senators and representatives, Mayor Hodges, and others) who think Abdi Warsame is a dick. And Abdi Warsame legitimately seems like a dick, so that’s good enough for me. Vote Noor.
Ward 7 Endorsement: Janne Flisrand
Janne is a friend of mine. But you should still believe me when I tell you, Janne is amazing. She has run a truly impressive campaign. One of the smartest, hardest working people I’ve ever met. Has a genuine talent for bringing people together to accomplish big things. She has all the skills you’d want in a leader. Read my full endorsement of Janne here.
Lisa Goodman has a well-earned reputation for favoring her wealthiest constituents and big business. She was hostile to action on the minimum wage and workplace protections in the last council term. Goodman is a Barb Johnson ally, and is an opponent of police reform. Lots of people are afraid of Lisa Goodman, feel bullied by Lisa Goodman, and are ready to see Lisa Goodman go away.
Ward 9 Endorsement: Wedge LIVE is not getting involved in Ward 9.
Your choice is between incumbent Alondra Cano and “guy who was the Ward 9 incumbent four years ago” Gary Schiff. I refuse to help you decide! Just don’t vote for Mohamed Farah, the GOP-funded. Minneapolis Works! candidate.
Ward 10 Endorsement: Lisa Bender
Obviously, we’re bringing Lisa Bender back for another four years. She’s smart, she’s committed to doing the right thing for the most people, regardless of power dynamics or the political cost to herself. I really admire Lisa Bender. Read my full endorsement of Lisa Bender here.
The other candidates in Ward 10 turned out much weirder than I could have imagined in 2017. Saralyn Romanishan, the person who runs the zany NIMBY Facebook page decided to run. She compares city government to Hitler and genocide, among other atrocities. She once called an equity plan put forward by the city a “pogrom.” Though in her defense, I’ve often questioned whether Saralyn knows what words mean. (Read a selection of Saralyn’s horrific commentary over the years.)
I served with Saralyn on the Lowry Hill East neighborhood board. She didn’t even get along with people who agreed with her. She took on a lot of responsibility and was incompetent at most of it.
Here’s the really beyond the pale disqualifying stuff: a friend of Saralyn’s once threatened my girlfriend with an anonymous email; this person put my girlfriend’s name, description, and location in a Craigslist ad, inviting strangers to come visit her. How have I determined the source of this anonymous threat? Because Saralyn’s friend was stupid enough to reference, within the anonymous email, the particular private disagreement I’d had with Saralyn just days before.
My message to you: don’t support terrible people with stupid, malicious friends. Don’t rank Saralyn on your ballot.
David Schorn is another candidate of questionable quality. He shares Saralyn’s anti-everything ideology without the maliciousness. Though he did show up to a protest where people held signs comparing bikers to Nazis. If you want to rank your ballot defensively to avoid Saralyn, I’d put Schorn second.
There’s a third challenger in Ward 10 who is a Republican who has said many jaw-droppingly racist things at candidate forums, and I’d rank him ahead of Saralyn too. Which I feel like I could defend morally, if I took the time to write four or five more paragraphs.
Ward 11 Endorsement: Erica Mauter
I really like Erica Mauter for a few reasons and you can read that full endorsement here.
Jeremy Schroeder is also great. With enthusiasm I say rank him second.