I saw Steve Fletcher compete for the DFL nomination earlier this spring. He won on the first ballot at the Ward 3 convention, as the candidate of the left. Before the emergence of Ginger Jentzen’s campaign, it seemed like Fletcher would glide easily to an election victory in November.
My first impression of Fletcher, based on his bio, was as an activist; but when you hear him talk, he has the ease of a policy wonk. I was not surprised to hear him say all the right things on police reform and worker’s rights. I was pleasantly surprised to hear him talk about building a transportation that serves people who bike, walk, and take transit. While Fletcher is no full-blown YIMBY, I consider him an ally. He readily acknowledges that market-rate housing is a necessary part of the solution on affordability. He has my strong first choice endorsement. I’m very confident he’ll be an effective council member.
Because of the successful campaign of Ginger Jentzen, the conversation in Ward 3 has been dominated by discussion of developers and rent control. My position has always been that, while developers are often rich assholes, that doesn’t mean building a bunch of new housing isn’t a net benefit to the cause of housing affordability (obligatory caveat: that’s not to say it’s the only thing we need to be doing, just that it’s a necessary part of the solution).
Jentzen’s campaign has raised a record-breaking amount of money with a message focused on rent control and the idea that new market-rate housing (built with no public subsidy) is the problem. It’s mostly working out pretty well for her. It’s popular! But it’s still not a set of policies that work the way people hope.
I still like Fletcher’s chances, but I think he’s become a victim of circumstance, caught up in the improbable rise of a talented opponent who’s become a sudden national cause. If you don’t believe me when I tell you Fletcher is well to the left of current Ward 3 council member Jacob Frey, just look at Fletcher’s fundraising. The usual big-donor suspects refuse to support him. Despite being a smart, amiable, DFL-endorsed candidate, Fletcher’s getting badly out-raised from the left. And now there’s a well-funded (though longshot) Republican candidate charging in from the right, with the aid of big business.
I have no preference between Samantha Pree-Stinson and Ginger Jentzen for second and third choice, but I’d encourage you to use every line on your ballot. Please leave Ward 3 Republican candidate Tim Bildsoe off your ballot entirely (yes, he’s an actual Republican pretending to be DFL).