Election 2021: Minneapolis Mayor

If you’ve been waiting for my Kate Knuth vs. Sheila Nezhad deep dive, that’s not going to happen in this post. There are seventeen people running for Mayor of Minneapolis, and I’m pretty sure only three of them have any chance of winning (Kate, Sheila, and Jacob). This is going to be the post where I give you an overview of all the other candidates, because you do get three slots, and if you don’t want Jacob, you should not rank him at all.

Of the fourteen I’m going to talk about today, some are real candidates with serious policy proposals. But if you look for an endorsements page, you mostly won’t find one; if you look them up on social media, they have a handful of followers. (Or they have thousands but they never interact — you can purchase Twitter followers but it’s super obvious when you do.)

Here’s who’s on the ballot:

Jacob Frey
Kate Knuth
Sheila Nezhad

(I’ll talk about those three in another post.)

Marcus Harcus (Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis)
Bob “Again” Carney Jr (Republican)
Laverne Turner (Republican)
Troy Benjegerdes (Farmer-Labor)
Paul E. Johnson (Equity in Motion)
Doug Nelson (Socialist Workers Party)
AJ Awed (DFL)
Nate “Honey Badger” Atkins (Libertarian Party)
Christopher W David (DFL)
Mike Winter (Independence-Alliance)
Kevin “No Body” Ward (Independent)
Clint Conner (DFL)
Mark Globus (DFL)
Perry, Jerrell (For the People)

AJ Awed (DFL)

I put AJ Awed at the top on this page because he’s one of the only candidates who I don’t think is viable this cycle but could be worth listing on your ballot because you want to see him make a viable run in the future. He ran in 2020 for the open Ward 6 City Council seat and made an excellent case for a lot of leftist policies. I think he’s actually gotten a bit more centrist? In 2020 he was clearly a police abolitionist, and he’s less clearly abolitionist now (though he certainly wants changes: “We must come together around a new model of public safety – one where peace officers are not warriors, but rather guardians of us all.  And more importantly, are no longer the only option when it comes to public safety.”) Anyway — he’s worth a look but don’t feel like you need to spend a whole lot of time deciding whether you prefer him vs. one of the likely-to-win candidates, he’s not going to win. Listing him on your ballot is mainly a vote of confidence in a future race.

Editing to add: when I looked at his platform earlier, I’d missed that he was voting no on the public safety amendment. Not, mind you, because he likes the status quo, but because he wants to “commission a ‘Citizen’s Assembly’ with a mandate to architect and recommend to the city’s people a completely new model of policing.” When he ran last year in Ward 6, I commented that I worried that he would chronically make the perfect the enemy of the good, and this is a pretty spot-on example of that.

ETA #2: His swing to the right on public safety is really startling, and I would encourage anyone who still views him through the lens of his previous positions to watch the (short) mayoral candidate debate that aired on Almanac (skip in 18 minutes to get to the debate.)

Marcus Harcus (Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis)

His website has a picture of a windmill, says it’s under construction, and suggests that I check back soon. If you don’t have your website in place by September, you’re not actually running. Next!

Bob “Again” Carney Jr (Republican)

Speaking of windmills, if I needed to describe Bob in one word, that word would be “quixotic.” I appreciate his determination to persuade the Republican party that Trumpism is not what they stand for. Good luck with that, Bob.

Bob has a website that he periodically updates to reflect whatever he’s currently running for. It currently references his 2020 run for US Senate, not the Minneapolis mayoral race.

Laverne Turner (Republican)

Laverne Turner has a mostly-Republican platform about giving raises to cops, “removing 1619 style education from Minneapolis public schools” (dude, even if we pass the strong mayor amendment, I’m pretty sure that doesn’t give the mayor veto power over school curricula), reducing property taxes, and removing bike lanes, but he also wants rent control, which is emphatically not a typical Republican stance. I’m going to hazard a guess that he’s a renter, and this is a classic example of that Republican thing where a problem you’ve personally experienced actually exists.

Troy Benjegerdes (Farmer-Labor)

Troy is a crypto enthusiast who’s also into agriculture, and his link goes to a blog that’s only slightly a campaign site. This is the third time he’s run for mayor. The first time he ran, in 2013, he apparently used 3 Bitcoin to pay the fee, which is an interesting illustration of how even the people who were very enthusiastic about crypto clearly didn’t think it was going to amount to all that much.

Paul E. Johnson (Equity in Motion)

Paul’s website has a lot of big, sweeping statements (“I am running for Hope / I am running for Change / I am running for Justice”) and zero policy anything other than the statement that he wants everyone to have residential Internet and a link to an article about Camden, NJ’s police reforms. He also says nothing about who he is, what he’s done in the past, etc. He has a video of himself giving a speech where he’s largely being drowned out by the background noise and … it’s a bunch of “who could argue with this?” stuff like “We must educate our youth! We must hold them dear to us!”

Doug Nelson (Socialist Workers Party)

As is standard for Socialist Workers Party candidates, instead of a website that might in any way talk about Minneapolis, Minneapolis issues, and what a Socialist Workers Party mayor might be like, he just links to the Militant (the Socialist Workers Party newspaper.)

Nate “Honey Badger” Atkins (Libertarian Party)

As a Libertarian, Nate brings both unqualified enthusiasm for private gun ownership and a desire for massive restructuring of the police department to the table. He also has this to say about homelessness: “[We should] No longer permit homeless to occupy city parks or city property in Minneapolis. Homelessness will not be illegal, however, Minneapolis must ensure public health and safety on city property and in the parks of our community.” Where exactly are the homeless people currently camping on city property supposed to go? Presumably that’s covered in the next one: “Minneapolis should identify a location for a mental health hospital, connected to a city-run homeless facility, where individuals experiencing homelessness or mental health crises can be provided adequate resources in a safe, and controlled environment.”

Liberty for me but not for thee! One of these days I’m going to write up a libertarian platform on housing for future reference of guys like Nate even though I’m not a libertarian, ffs. His Twitter feed also features a video of him swearing at Biden for the vaccine mandate.

He’s an exception to the “no endorsements” generalization — he’s endorsed by the Libertarian Party.

Christopher W David (DFL)

Christopher David’s website is a single blank page that says “VOTE CHRIS DAVID MAYOR. LESS TALK. MORE ACTION” and then has a password box. That’s it. He also has a campaign Facebook page with no posts. Idk man, there was a $500 filing fee to get on this ballot and I am pretty sure I could come up with a more rewarding way to spend $500.

Mike Winter (Independence-Alliance)

Another exception to the “no endorsements” generalization, Mike Winter is endorsed by the Independence-Alliance party, what’s left of the Jessecrats (I seriously did not realize they were still a going concern). His priority is more cops. I think he also wants to get rid of the Park Board and appoint people to run the parks, instead.

Kevin “No Body” Ward (Independent)

Kevin Ward wants to decriminalize marijuana and shrooms but charge opiate dealers with attempted murder and also first degree murder if they sold fentanyl or carfentanyl (note to Kevin: that would require action from the state legislature); he wants the police to actually enforce fireworks laws and arrest people who set off fireworks anytime that isn’t July 4th or January 1st; he wants police to be armed only with less-lethal weapons and if an officer kills a suspect he wants them immediately charged with first-degree murder and he wants any other officers present to be required to immediately arrest the cop who did the killing or else they’ll be charged with murder as well; he wants to fire everyone appointed by Frey and appoint people he likes better; he wants more recreational facilities for youth; he wants cops to walk a beat instead of driving around; and he wants social workers dispatched with police.

He then notes he doesn’t actually know what a mayor can and can’t do.

He says he won’t take donations from anyone who makes less than he does but doesn’t say where the cutoff is (I’m not sure he’s in any danger of getting any donations fron anyone).

Clint Conner (DFL)

Clint Conner is a lawyer who’s done a lot of pro bono work for renters, so not surprisingly, he has a fairly detailed housing platform that’s focused almost entirely on addressing common problems tenants face, including finding the process of getting legal aid or rent help confusing, and landlords who won’t fix major problems. He also thinks that Jacob Frey hasn’t done enough to kiss up to the Minneapolis Police: “We need a Mayor who will immediately reset the narrative so that our police know their service is appreciated.”

Mark Globus (DFL)

Mark Globus is another “we need to be more appreciative of the police” candidate — he’s promising to do a ride-along with the police weekly as mayor, which is one of those campaign promises it would be really interesting to see someone try to implement, kind of like the guy who said he’d give everyone his personal telephone number. He’s also apparently campaigning on being 55 years old, unlike that whippersnapper Jacob.

He’s another one who wants to get rid of the Park Board and replace it with appointed people, and he sounds similar enough to Mike Winter to make me wonder where this idea originated. (Mike Winter: “I recommend we change the city charter, and start appointing experts In the fields of botany, irrigation, and landscaping to keep our parks in excellent condition for generations to come.” Mark Globus: “We need people who are experts in botany, black top, road surfaces, irrigation systems, drainage, architecture and landscape architecture.” I think it was the “experts in botany” bit that caught my eye.)

Also of note: Mark’s “Parking and transportation” page is 100% about parking and 0% about transit, walkability, or any other non-car forms of transportation. Also, his page about policing says that he wants the Minneapolis police to be more a part of the community, “like the New York City cops you see playing stickball with kids in the neighborhood.” Do you actually see this, outside of Hollywood? Because I am skeptical that it happens outside of the occasional highly choreographed media-friendly copaganda event.

Jerrell Perry (For the People)

Jerrell Perry’s name is listed as “Perry, Jerrell” for some reason, and the “who’s on your ballot” page links to http://www.perry4thepeople.com, which then attempts to forward you to http://www.face.perry4thepeopleofminneapolis, which … might be a mis-typed version of his Facebook page? Anyway, I’m just linking here to his Facebook page, where he posts religious memes, fundraising pleas, and videos. I tried to watch one video but gave up because you can’t actually hear what he’s saying over the background noise, despite the fact that he’s using a megaphone. The first video on the page is him harassing someone who organized a mayoral forum because they only invited Jacob, Sheila, and Kate.

ETA: I still can’t get his website to load but he responded to the Star Tribune voter’s guide and the Neighbors for More Neighbors housing questionnaire.

Anyway: I can imagine scenarios where AJ Awed actually leaps from “also-ran” to “genuine contender,” but they are extreme long shots, and no one else on this list has any chance. If you see someone you like, you do get three slots — but you’ll want to save two for Kate and Sheila if you don’t like Jacob.

Did you know that I had a book released this April? Chaos on CatNet is a sequel to Catfishing on CatNet and takes place in a future Minneapolis. Signed copies are usually available from Dreamhaven and from the current mail-order-only incarnation of Uncle Hugo’s. Books make great holiday gifts, but should be ordered early this year — supply chain issues are happening all over.

I do not have a Patreon or Ko-Fi, but you can make a donation to encourage my work! My readers have now bought a refrigerator for the school nurse at Olson Middle School, and I’ve found several more worthwhile fundraisers for high-poverty Minneapolis and Saint Paul schools:

An 8th grade math teacher at Floyd Olson Middle School needs three-ring binders to help her students stay organized. She notes: “most of my students do not have money for basic school supplies. With this donation, I will be able to supply them with items their neighboring suburban 8th grade students use in their Algebra classroom.”

An art teacher at Andersen United middle school is starting a ceramics program and needs a pug mill to recycle dried out clay back into usable clay. (Over time, they’ll save a lot of money on clay if they have this!)

A Technology teacher at Humboldt High School in St. Paul would love to have a 3D printer for his students, who learn to design things in their classes and with this printer will be able to create actual prototypes.


15 thoughts on “Election 2021: Minneapolis Mayor

  1. It’s pretty obvious that Mr. Honey Badger doesn’t think of homeless people as part of the public whose health needs to be protected. Which is, alas, unsurprising, but still relevant.

    We know how his proposed plan works: the homeless are chased out of the city, he gets to talk about how “we” no longer have homeless people sleeping in the parks, and at some point he maybe starts the process of setting up that hospital and shelter, but that would cost money, and I suspect that it’s against his religion to spend public money to help poor people he doesn’t know.

    As for Globus, even if the cops are playing stickball in the streets, that won’t stop them from beating up, raping, or casually murdering people. Also, I lived in New York City for half a century and never saw anyone play stickball, that’s not just a media-choreographed thing, it’s a seriously out of date one. Baseball and pickup basketball and double-dutch jump-rope and tennis and handball and soccer, yes, but not stickball, I suspect that outside an organized old-timers thing, the cops would chase away any possible stickball game for blocking traffic.

  2. Hi Naomi, thanks for the write-up on the candidates. As a heads-up, you misspelled my last name, which ends in “er.”

    Regardless of how you characterize it, I do believe that supporting our good police is the only way to keep them and avoid a future where 30 kids being shot in an eight-month timeframe (like this year) is the norm or, worst case, the low mark. We are down well over 200 police since George Floyd’s murder. My kids are my life. If we do not protect children, we have failed completely as a society.

    You can read more about my platform at: https://www.clintconner2021.com. There, you can sign up to get involved or make a contribution!

    Best regards,
    Clint Conner

  3. Hi Naomi,

    I respectfully disagree with many of your characterizations, including about myself and Jarrell, who is from North Minneapolis, is raising kids there, was homeless himself, is a great speaker, and an inspirational person. I have developed a friendship with Jarrell. I think both he and myself would be the best leaders of the group.

    What are you basing your dismissal of everyone but your chosen three on? Polls, surveys, etc?
    We launched our campaign only 5 weeks ago, the reception on the street is unbelievably positive, and if you drive around Minneapolis you will be sure to see my lawn signs.

    I have much respect for your writing.

    I am not seeing support for some of your conclusions.

    Best regards,

    • You ask me what I based my dismissal of your campaign on, and then follow that up by saying that you launched your campaign only five weeks ago. But this is a question that comes up a lot, so let me just go down the list of things I look for when I’m wondering if someone is a viable candidate or not.

      * Candidates with any chance of winning elections do not launch their campaign in August when the election is in November, unless something really strange happened, like a plane crash or a massive scandal that takes down one of the candidates expected to win.

      * One of the things that Twitter is pretty good for is getting a sense of whether people are talking about a candidate. If I go to Twitter and search for Kate, Sheila, or Jacob, I can find a LOT of people talking about them and their positions. If I look up AJ Awed, I find a lot of posts from him, and a handful of posts from other people talking about him. Almost no one is talking about you at all. (Quick tip: you need to change your display name on Twitter to “Clint Conner for Minneapolis Mayor” or at least “Clint Conner,” with the space, so people can find you. When I plug in “Clint Conner,” you don’t come up, because your display name doesn’t have a space in it. I find a pastor from another state, instead.) You also have 13 Twitter followers and your handful of posts have netted a single reply — if you’re a political candidate on Twitter and you’re not even being heckled, that means no one’s listening.

      * On your website, your “News” page has your announcement of candidacy from August and nothing else.

      * Your Facebook page shows you going to stuff (Open Streets, the Fair), but you don’t have the coordination to have a current “Events” page anywhere so people know about them in advance; also, people can sign up to volunteer, but you don’t have anything set up to show prospective volunteers events (like Open Streets or whatever) they can come help with. What this shows is that you have energy but not really a campaign per se — serious campaigns have a mix of volunteers and staff who know how to keep information in sync across platforms.

      * You appear to have zero endorsements.

      I’ll note that Jarrell doesn’t even have a functional website, just a Facebook page that lacks readily-accessible answers to extremely basic questions like, “what does this person want to do as mayor of Minneapolis?” There are ways to set up a Facebook page to make things like that easier to find — and Jarrell hasn’t done so.

  4. Jerrell Perry may not be “ready for prime time” in terms of becoming mayor, but I will say…he did quite well in the Racial Justice Network Mayoral Forum, and … I *would* like to hear more of what he has to say. Do I think he’s ready and likely to be one of my top rankings? …Probably not. Not this year. Do I agree with everything he says? No probably not everything, and I am not a fan of injecting any more religiosity into our civic institutions, so I could do with a little less of the “god talk” on the website personally. But do I think he has a good community focus? Do I think he has a voice that should be in the mix? Yeah. I do.

    Also, I will point out both his website and FB page seem to have actually stepped up a bit in the past week. So…I wonder if lack of funding etc. had him set behind on getting things set up, but there is more now.

  5. Great work, as usual. Now how about a solid essay on the other three? Plus, I am hoping that one day *soon* you’ll write about charter questions 1, 2, and 3 in Minneapolis.

  6. Thank you so much for all of your writing work on our local elections. I appreciate it so so so much. I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts and analysis of the three top mayoral contenders!

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