Endorsement: Elliott Payne for Minneapolis City Council in Ward 1

Elliott Payne is a bright spot in a rough year. A mechanical engineer turned designer who has has also worked on policy in the city’s Office of Performance and Innovation. At the city he helped develop an ordinance to prevent renters and victims of crime from being evicted without due process. He has incredible talent and energy to offer this city at a time when we desperately need it.

I had a conversation with Elliott earlier this year (listen or watch) where he talked about how any given policy proposal needs a champion at City Hall. It’s about more than showing up for votes. I believe he has the right vision — and I have confidence in his ability to see it through.

On public safety, Elliott Payne is the kind of council member we need to help flesh out the details of what comes next with a new department of public safety. On transportation he says Kevin Reich hasn’t done enough to make streets “as safe for cyclists, pedestrians, and disabled neighbors as they are for drivers.” We need that kind of urgency.

In a difficult election year, I’m a little more optimistic about the future when I think about Elliott Payne’s campaign. If we see significant turnover on the Council, I am reassured by his experience and his interest in the policy details. His vision — for housing, transportation, public safety, and more — are in line with my own. I have more than a little anxiety about how this election will turn out. As we head into the next City Council term, Ward 1 and Minneapolis will surely be better off with the leadership of Elliott Payne.

Kevin Reich is the incumbent in Ward 1. Watching him for two of his three terms, I’ve seen him stay mostly quiet, and often side with the council’s conservative wing. During that time he has chaired the City Council’s Transportation and Public Works Committee. While he is knowledgeable, he does no distinguish himself as a leader on transportation — he’s more of a caretaker. I wanted to go to his website and find him bragging about the city’s ambitious new Transportation Action Plan, and see him talking about how excited he is to implement its goals. I didn’t find it. Though I did find some of his enthusiasm in my tweets of a meeting from last November. And that’s Kevin Reich. He’s just there, along for the ride. He might disappoint you, but he’s not going to offend you, and mostly you’re just not going to notice he was there.

Though Kevin Reich is against Question 2, the public safety charter amendment, I’m going to give him credit for not using the status of Chief Arradondo in a dishonest way, as I’ve seen his allies do. I remember him asking some reasonable and fair-minded questions about the charter amendment at a committee meeting in July. So I went to look through his website and survey answers to find him being a hypocrite. I couldn’t find him demagoguing the chief, but in his answer to a Minneapolis Realtors questionnaire he was pretty aggressive in opposition to the public safety question. He’s asked what I think are justifiably skeptical questions about the strong mayor charter amendment, Question 1, about which he says he’s undecided.

Some recent Kevin Reich moments that come to mind:

The truth is, if this election gives us a more conservative council, Kevin Reich will go along and stay mostly quiet. And if it results in a more progressive council, Kevin Reich will go along and stay mostly quiet. But Ward 1 can do so much better than Kevin Reich. Vote for Elliott Payne.