When I hear about a local election that’s a DFLer vs. a Green, there are certain assumptions I make. Like, I tend to expect that the Green will be to the left of the Democrat, at least on environmental issues. I don’t, as a general rule, expect the Green to be the defender of the status quo. If these are assumptions you, too, tend to bring to elections, and you live in District 1, boy do I ever have a surprise for you this year!
On the ballot:
Mohamed Issa Barre
Mohamed Issa Barre does not really seem to be running — no website that I could find, he’s not filling out questionnaires, etc. He’s a photographer, and I found a MN Daily article and a Northeaster article that covered him.
Chris Meyer is the DFLer; Billy Menz is the Green. (They’re both endorsed by their respective parties.)
Chris Meyer is advocating for urban agriculture, solar power in the parks (and electric vehicles), defending the park workers, and a a ban on glyphosate. He’s car-free (he’s never learned to drive) and really evangelical about biking. One of his big ideas is a program to provide poor kids with bikes and bike-riding lessons to get them in the habit of riding.
Billy Menz wants high-quality youth sports, more collaboration with the local schools, and a better recycling program in the parks. He and his wife used to be a one-car family, but couldn’t manage it after they had kids.
I mean, it’s not like the Green is saying, “build more parking lots and get rid of bike lanes” or anything, but the DFLer’s environmental goals are a lot more detailed and ambitious! This is not what I was expecting.
Possibly given that the Democrat is to the left of the Green, and has a significantly more ambitious environmental program, the Green is backed by the displaced Park Board member Liz Wielinski (she didn’t get the endorsement at the City Convention and dropped out) along with a bunch of other recently-displaced Park Board folks. (Plus all the Greens, as you’d expect.)
Menz is a math specialist at a Minneapolis elementary school. Meyer works for political activist organizations and it’s totally not clear to me what he actually does. His “About” page says, “I now work on election and advocacy campaigns for a living, fighting for progressive causes at organizations such as Working America, AFSCME, Clean Water Action, Democracy For America, and numerous candidate campaigns” and his “Issues” page mentions that he’s a “field manager” for Working America. I’m sort of assuming that he’s not one of those people that goes around knocking on doors asking for money because very few people do that for more than about a summer. His LinkedIn page is super basic and calls him a “Political Organization Professional.” (I can tell you that I checked the “Our Team” page for Mothership Strategies and didn’t find him on it.)
(Something I noticed this year: many political candidates re-did their LinkedIn page with an eye toward providing additional information for those looking for it. That is a terrific idea and I found a lot of useful information on people’s LinkedIn pages. Not so much in this race: Chris Meyer barely has a page, and Billy Menz’s page mostly just lists his teaching jobs plus he wrote a recommendation for a guy who’s been providing coaching and organization on his campaign.)
Overall: I am impressed by Chris Meyer’s endorsements, which include Lisa Bender, Ilhan Omar, and Karen Clark; I also like his ideas for bike programs for kids. I would list Chris Meyer as my #1 for Park Board District 1.
Thank you Naomi, I appreciate your coverage of local politics.
To the voters, if getting more youth to bike is important, Mr. Menz (he was my daughter’s teacher) has real experience that makes him the best candidate for Park Board District 1.
Billy started Boys on Bike club at the elementary school where he teaches. Utilizing the school’s bicycle fleet, the club encouraged and taught safe biking practices to 4th and 5th grade boys, many of whom did not know how to ride at the time. Billy also has been involved in youth bike trips at parks.
If you would like to know more about Billy, please reach out to him.
School volunteer and year round Minneapolis bicycle rider
Hey Naomi, My friend Scott directed me to your blog post. I agree, my opponent is a strong environmental candidate and is pushing some serious reform and climate action during his Park Board race. I think his passion for these issues is apparent but also believe that many of the ideas he has for climate action on the Park Board take experience and action. The Sierra Club endorsed me over him for a reason. I am a proven leader in the schools on environmental issues. I started an organics recycling program at our school where we currently divert 92% of our lunchroom waste to organics or recycling. Imagine if we could do that across the city. The impact would be tremendous. I have utilized the bike paths in South Minneapolis with kids who did not even know we had these resources available to them. Biking with kids is not easy and takes organization. I have done that and have the partners to make it happen in the parks. Additionally, I have organized student volunteer groups to remove invasive species along the Mississippi in efforts to restore our native habitat. So, while my opponent has great ideas and good intentions, I have proven action oriented on these issues and I think my experiences will help ensure more action while on the Park Board. Thank you for your participation on the issues.