Endorsement: Steve Fletcher for Minneapolis City Council in Ward 3

Ward 3 is one where I would urge undecided voters to watch this candidate forum. Incumbent Steve Fletcher is the clear first choice. Michael Rainville is supposed to be the candidate of common sense, the law and order candidate with the famous family name. I spent an hour watching this and decided that Merv Moorhead, who I’d assumed was the kooky one, seemed reassuringly normal.

At one point in the forum, Fletcher brought up the “flood of guns.”

Rainville interrupted to ask: “Why didn’t you do something about it? You could pass laws on gun control.”

Fletcher responded that the city can’t do that. It doesn’t have the power. “Is your argument that you’ll be able to go to the state capitol and win gun reform?”

Rainville: “Yes, I will do that.”

At another point, Rainville strenuously — and wrongly — disputed the accuracy of Fletcher touting the unanimous council support for the handful of ordinances he’s authored.

And it wasn’t just the times when Rainville was doubling down on clueless, cringe-inducing attack lines. Steve Fletcher is incisive, prepared, and has an actual vision for public safety. That vision includes police responding to violent crime while also building up the city’s capacity to dispatch other responders besides police. Rainville doesn’t have a plan. He uses the same crutch as the mayor: he’ll support the chief.

Steve Fletcher has been a part of important work on public safety, housing, and transportation this term. He pays attention to detail, which we need more of on the city council. He consistently asks really good questions at council meetings and initiates important conversations. During a budget hearing a few days ago, he asked a question about whether a budget item for city hall TV broadcasts would cover an expansion to coverage of the city’s boards and commissions (such as the newly relevant Charter Commission, which pre-covid had not been archived or broadcast for viewing). This is a small thing, but Fletcher does it consistently, and the small things add up.

Rainville is the cousin of former Council President Barb Johnson, who was defeated by current Ward 4 Council Member Phillipe Cunningham in 2017. To that point the Rainville family had occupied the Ward 4 seat on the City Council since the mid-1970s (seriously). Since leaving office, Barb occasionally comes to my attention when I see her on the endorsements pages of various Republican candidates for county board. One such Edina Republican has endorsed Rainville’s campaign.

On a conference call with a group of landlords in April (intended to be private, but reported exclusively by Wedge LIVE), Rainville pledged “the number one thing I would do [on housing] is listen to Alisa Mulhair.” Mulhair is the general manager of short term rental company called Sonder. This was probably reassuring to the landlords, many of whom are unhappy with Steve Fletcher’s ordinance banning property owners from operating more than one short term rental besides the one they live in.

Rainville told the landlords they couldn’t count on Steve Fletcher because “His problem is he’s never worked for a living. This job is the highest paying job he’s ever had in his life and will be the highest paying job he ever has in his life.” Note: Michael Rainville makes up weird attacks that have no basis in reality, so we probably shouldn’t trust him when it comes to Steve Fletcher’s previous or future income.

What’s funny about the above comment is Michael Rainville worked 35 years with the Minneapolis convention and visitor’s bureau, Meet Minneapolis. Some would suggest this was a patronage job based on family connections. Note: the street we call Rainville Place by the convention center is named after a more accomplished Rainville (Barb’s mother Alice Rainville).

Rainville concluded the landlord call by telling them “I want to represent the views of the private sector. It’s your blood, sweat and tears that has made the city great.” Again, please consume some video and audio of Michael Rainville before trusting him with any kind of power over our city.

On climate and transportation: Steve Fletcher will stand on principle for safer streets and sustainable transportation. Whereas Michael Rainville announced his campaign from the bed of a truck parked in a bike lane.

On an episode of the Wedge LIVE podcast, David Brauer referred to Michael Rainville as a “sentient Police Federation door decal.” I say “sentient” is too generous. But I agree he’ll be a strong voice for preserving the broken MPD status quo.

Am I self conscious about how harsh some of these endorsement posts might sound? A little. But it’s a reflection of the low quality of the candidates the Downtown Council crowd is sending us. Michael Rainville is the sort of candidate that if he wins, you’ll be glad he takes orders from the private sector, because I’m not sure I trust him to make his own decisions.

The stakes are high. The difference between the candidates is stark. Please vote for Steve Fletcher.