This is one of those races where I like multiple candidates, which actually makes it a lot harder to write about. On the ballot:
John Quincy (DFL, incumbent)
Erica Mauter (DFL)
Jeremy Schroeder (DFL)
John Quincy is one of those City Council reps that just doesn’t wind up in the news all that often. There were kind of two things that stood out to me.
First, in the backroom fight between Barb Johnson and Elizabeth Glidden for Council Presidency, Quincy really wanted to avoid taking a side at all:
“John Quincy actually told me he was going to be undecided and that he was going to be nobody’s seventh vote,” Gordon said. “Eventually he and Jacob ended up aligning with Barb.”
“I intentionally did not want to be the seventh vote,” explained Quincy, acknowledging that the seventh vote on a 13-member panel is a great source of power. But rather than grabbing the power for himself, he decided to let someone else take the lead.
His view: “There’s equal power in not being the decider and letting other people decide.”
I guess I firmly disagree that there’s equal power in “not being the decider.” This just feels like nonconfrontational Minnesota nice-ness taken to a ludicrous extreme.
Second, “how responsive is this guy?” is a weirdly contentious question. Quincy says he’s responsive: the most responsive. He says he talks to most people at coffee shops — I’m guessing he’s referring to his monthly coffee-shop get togethers for constituents. It’s definitely a good thing for City Council reps to host a regular “come talk to me about whatever” gathering, but not everyone can go to those: they may have work conflicts, they may be caregivers, there are lots of reasons you might have to contact your city council rep from your house. How is he on e-mail? Phone? This article, which admittedly is part of the ongoing City Pages series, “We Found A Pissed-Off Person,” cites a resident dealing with stormwater seepage (with a lot of neighbors struggling with the same problem). That’s a significant issue in some parts of Minneapolis, and it’s one that absolutely can’t be dealt with by the homeowner alone. The resident in the article, Deanna Boss, called Quincy repeatedly and got ignored. Eventually he passed the buck to the Park Board. (In a footnote to the article, he stands by “putting her in touch with the city’s public works department” as a proactive response, which doesn’t super impress me.)
He also voted for the Vikings stadium, and although he acknowledges that affordable housing is an issue, he’s uninterested in approaches like inclusionary zoning or changing the zoning code to encourage more mid-density development in his ward (what Erica Mauter calls the “missing middle” — two-unit through six-unit buildings.)
Running against him are Erica Mauter and Jeremy Schroeder, and here’s where this got really hard. I like both of these people! They are both smart, committed, progressive, and experienced. (Our Revolution dealt with this problem by endorsing both of them.)
Erica Mauter’s experience is more city-oriented. She’s on the City of Minneapolis Capital Long-Range Improvements Committee and has served on the board of the Fringe Festival.
Jeremy Schroeder’s experience is somewhat more oriented toward state-level (or higher) stuff. He’s worked for Common Cause MN and the Minnesota Housing Partnership; he’s been on the board of Amnesty International.
Jeremy has at least one really impressive resume item: he served as the director of the Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and Illinois in fact abolished the death penalty. That is one hell of an accomplishment.
I wrote to both of them and they both wrote back to me really quickly (and they’re both clearly readers of my blog). There’s some video up from a forum: I watched it, and they’re both thoughtful speakers. This is one of those races where whichever one you list as your #1, definitely list the other as your #2. (And if you can’t make up your mind but don’t like Quincy, flip a goddamn coin or something, or Quincy will just take it while the Quincy-dislikers waffle about which opponent is better. We have IRV, so use it! There’s a conservative group spending money on lit for Quincy and trying to drum up support, so don’t skip this one because you just couldn’t decide which non-Quincy person you liked better.)
My sister wrote to me last week to note that Erica is a former coworker of hers. They worked at different sites, but she noted that Erica had a strongly positive reputation: “she was good at being the one to get really challenging projects through all their obstacles to completion.”
If I lived in the ward, I would list Erica #1, Jeremy #2, because in fact, as a voter, if it comes down to “I like both of these people” and someone I know personally vouches for one of them personally, I will swing to that one nearly every time. (And now you know why candidates door-knock, or ask their volunteers to door-knock! This stuff is powerful.)
I’ll also note that people of color are significantly under-represented on the Minneapolis City Council at present and Erica would bring that perspective to the council. At DFL conventions, there’s a statement that’s read at the beginning of the convention, and before delegates are chosen, as well as at various other points:
“The DFL seeks to end discrimination and bigotry in all its forms and to inspire broad participation in our party. As part of our commitment to outreach and inclusion, we will take affirmative steps to increase the participation of members of all underrepresented communities. When you vote today, remember this commitment includes electing members of underrepresented communities to positions both within the DFL party and in public office.”
I thought about this while writing about the Ward 9 race, because there are supporters of Alondra Cano who are very angry at Gary Schiff for running against her due to the fact that she’s a Latina woman and he’s a white guy. This stuff matters! …but not enough (in my opinion) to override the fact that Alondra doxed her constituents. It’s absolutely legit as a tie-breaker, though.
But please: regardless of whether you personally list Erica Mauter or Jeremy Schroeder first, list the other one second! And I really hope that both of them stay in politics and look for other offices to run for, because we need people like both of them involved.
FWIW, Quincy and Schroeder stopped by and talked to us. (I think Mauter came around as well, but we were not home.) We liked Schroeder a lot. Quincy was nice but seemed somewhat clueless and politician-y.