Mpls City Council: Ward 3

(Wondering where Ward 2 is? Ward 2: your City Council Rep will be Cam Gordon. If you don’t like him, you can run against him yourself in four years.)

Ward 3 is Jacob Frey’s ward, so there is no incumbent. The four candidates:

Ginger Jentzen (Socialist Alternative)
Samantha Pree-Stinson (Green)
Tim Bildsoe (DFL)
Steve Fletcher (DFL, has the actual endorsement)

It doesn’t look like Tim Bildsoe sought endorsement (the article I found about that ward convention doesn’t mention him). In this Minnesota Daily article, it sounds like the socialist is the one who’s raising the most money. (Dear Minnesota Daily: an actual date on each article is nice. “Last updated 20 hours ago” doesn’t mean nearly as much as you seem to think it does.)

Ginger Jentzen

The first thing I noticed on Ginger Jentzen’s website was her pledge to donate half her City Council salary to social change movements. I tend to be deeply suspicious of people who make pledges like this and this made me curious what she currently does for a living. She’s not on LinkedIn (maybe that shouldn’t surprise me from someone who’s literally a Trotskyite?) but with some digging I turned up the following:

  • Before she was an advocate for the $15/minimum in Minneapolis, she was running a similar campaign in Seattle.
  • She’s been to lots of socialist conventions in other countries.
  • Back in 2009 she was a contributing fiction editor to this tiny Minneapolis-specific literary zine that said in her bio that she was “a graduate of Colorado College with an English degree in Creative Writing and a minor in Francophone studies. […] Currently, she works with developmentally disabled individuals promoting an “active engagement” philosophy, and she’ll gladly serve you wine at Scusi’s wine bar in St. Paul on the weekends.”
  • In this Q&A she mentions working as a server for over a decade.
  • She really appears to have made her living as a labor organizer at least since 2014.

The second thing I noticed (as I scrolled through all her issues) is that her solution to basically everything is to tax the rich. This platform would make a hell of a lot more sense if she were running for state legislature. If you look around by state, the high-tax, high-service states are not short on rich people. (See: Massachusetts, California, New York.) Moving out of a state is a big deal for most people, especially if they have a job, unless they can leave the state but stay in the same metro area. (You can kinda sorta do that in the Twin Cities, but you have to live with a genuinely annoying commute unless you work at 3M.)

Changing cities, on the other hand, is easy. You don’t even have to give up living in a city(ish thing) since you can move to St. Paul.

If you’re living in a large house in Minneapolis, you’re already paying significantly more in property taxes than you would if you moved to a large house in Bloomington, and you’ve made your peace with this, but most people have their limits. And if you hit it, people will sell their houses and move, which will create a massive crash in the value of the fancy houses, which will result in a huge overall drop in the tax base. (And this is all pretending that a municipal income tax is even legal. I’m pretty sure it’s not.)

I think she should run for State Legislature instead of City Council, but I wouldn’t vote for her there, either.

Samantha Pree-Stinson

The Green candidate, Samantha Pree-Stinson, is running to the right of the socialist and possibly to the right of the endorsed DFLer: “You cannot be anti business and pro worker. Businesses provide jobs. The issue is business practices when it comes to scheduling, time off, wages, workplace safety, and work life integration.” Her priorities are an interesting mix of centrist (“Bring back efficiency to city hall”) and modest (“Increase the low-income rental rate from 2% to 5%.”)

Samantha was a combat medic in Afghanistan and works in tech support at Medtronic. (She also serves on what looks like a diversity committee and is on the board of a non-profit radio station.) Her website is incredibly badly designed. This article from earlier in the year makes her look better than her website does.

Tim Bildsoe

Tim Bildsoe has one of the most unusual resumes for a Minneapolis City Council candidate I’ve ever seen: he previously served on the Plymouth City Council for almost 20 years (with maybe a two-year break in there somewhere when he switched to an at-large seat.) In 2014, he and his wife moved to Minneapolis, where he promptly became president of the North Loop Neighborhood Association. He apparently decided to run for City Council after getting annoyed about the condition of the local streets. His campaign is emphasizing “basics.”

Since he used to be a City Council rep, I could look to see what he did in Plymouth, and whether I liked it or hated it. In 2008, he wanted to eliminate Dial-A-Ride, because it was expensive. (It looks like Dial-A-Ride still exists, so apparently that didn’t happen.) In 2012, there was a fight over whether people in Plymouth could keep potbelly pigs as pets. Bildsoe rejected the idea of allowing pigs that were under a certain weight: “I’m not going to ask someone to keep their pigs on a diet, that’d be an issue and I don’t think it’s appropriate in some neighborhoods to have them as more and more homes are closer to each other.” (This made me wonder if Minneapolis allows pigs. No. Eagan does, though.) In 2013, there was some dispute over a traffic study and Bildsoe went out to observe the traffic himself. In 2014, he advocated for building a million-dollar ice center, although at that point they were just exploring the option, I think. There was also some profoundly suburban argument over neighborhood design that he participated in.

So yeah, overall: not … blown away by the guy. I don’t really care one way or the other about pet pigs, but Dial-a-Ride is a service that provides rides mostly to the elderly and disabled, and it sounded like he was suggesting that the money could be better spent on express buses for commuters.

I’d take him over the Socialist, but probably not over the Green.

Steve Fletcher

Steve Fletcher helped found Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, which incidentally had the Ward 3 folks fill out the same questionnaire that I found so enlightening over in Ward 1. He is a solid, progressive Democrat who gives the sort of answers you want to hear on basically everything. (“The failure to bring charges and examine the facts of Clark’s death in open court vividly exposed a system that has always featured too high a tolerance for police violence, and too little respect for black lives.” “The issues workers have raised around fair scheduling are serious ones that need to be addressed, and underscore a more fundamental problem: a lack of full-time jobs in low-wage industries that have been deliberately ‘part-timed.'”) He’s worked at a progressive think tank. He has endorsements from almost everybody, including Our Revolution. (Our Revolution also endorsed Ginger, apparently, but didn’t list her on their website, which resulted in them getting some really confused e-mail messages from me last night.)

Steve Fletcher would absolutely be my first choice. For my #2 I’d probably put down Samantha Pree-Simpson, although if I hit a pothole on my way to the polls I might switch to Tim Bildsoe at the last minute.

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