I keep saying “I’m going to do this one quickly and just get it DONE” and then getting sucked down another rabbit hole. Anyway, I’m going to try to do this one quickly and just get it done.
On the ballot:
tl;dr vote for Nick Kor as your #1. I would also list Teqen Zéa-Aida as my #2.
Lisa Goodman (DFL, incumbent, DFL-endorsed)
Lisa Goodman is the longest-serving City Council member and for all her mix of accomplishments (good and bad) the thing I will always remember first is that she handed Teqen Zéa-Aida her used gum (like, straight into his bare hand) right before a debate. Even in less-germophobic 2017 that was gross.
As I noted in the 2017 post: Lisa has done stuff I like. But she was obstructing a policing charter amendment all the way back in 2018 and her website summarizes the public safety charter question as “abolish the police,” which is just a shameless lie. She also talks on her website she’s committed to ending pedestrian traffic deaths but according to multiple friends has been a chronic roadblock on redesigning Hennepin Avenue (one of the deadliest streets in the state) and refused to support a 4-to-3 lane conversion on 3rd Avenue (per comments) which wound up not happening.
(I don’t understand resistance to 4-3 conversations / road diets on any road that can possibly handle it. The three-lane approach is not only less terrifying to pedestrians and safer for bikers, it’s also so much nicer to drive on because it moves the stuff that stops — buses and people turning left — out of the flow. Even when it’s backed up, it’s less stressful. But also, if you’re saying on your website that you’re super concerned about pedestrian safety, and you’re also opposing or quietly killing a proposal to convert a dangerous 4-lane streets that carries less than 10,000 cars per day to a 3-lane streets because some businesses whined about it, you’re not prioritizing pedestrian safety and your website is full of shit.)
I would not vote for Lisa Goodman.
Teqen Zéa-Aida (DFL)
Teqen has a really interesting background (transracial adoptee, long-time small business owner, HIV+ LGBTQ Black man), was a Humphrey Public Policy and Leadership Fellow, and served on the MPRB Upper Harbor Terminal Community Advisory Committee.
Teqen’s website doesn’t have an “Issues” section or a “Policies” section but an “Opportunities” section, which — sorry — gave me an instant flashbacks to corporate motivational seminars. His “Comfort and Safety” section talks about a “Comfort and Safety Node Plan” in a way that suggests it’s an existing plan that he’s advocating for (I don’t think that’s the case). Having read the section and looked at his diagram at the bottom, I think what he’s proposing is that we basically have more and smaller precincts that are outfitted with a mix of police (“Peacekeeping Officers”) and other professionals (mental health professionals, mediators). He describes this as “beat cops meet Sesame Street.”
I’ll note that I really don’t think this is a remotely feasible redesign unless the public safety charter amendment passes and we’re putting together a Department of Public Safety. Which I think Teqen opposes. I couldn’t actually find a clear statement anywhere, but he’s endorsed by Operation Safety Now, which means he was at least willing to tell OSN that he opposed the Public Safety charter amendment.
Elsewhere on his website, he talks about supporting the “Downtown Academic Arts District initiative” — this sounds extremely cool but I couldn’t find any info about it elsewhere and wish there were a link. Probably the section that grabbed me the most was on downtown development — he brings an arts orientation and an attachment to preserving stuff that’s cool. We’re going to have to seriously re-imagine downtown, because people did not rush back to work from offices as soon as they were vaccinated, and I don’t think business travel will ever bounce back.
I am wary of his OSN endorsement, but he is, at least, genuinely committed to police reform and I think he’d be a step up from Lisa Goodman. I would rank him #2.
Joanna Diaz (DFL)
Joanna’s main page has a Q&A:
Are you qualified to be a city council member?
There is a common misconception that in order in run for city council you have to be a politician or an activist when in reality anyone can run that is eligible.
The city council’s job is to adopt a city budget, approve mayoral appointees, levy taxes, and make/amend city laws, policies and ordinances.
I have worked in business for 12 years and I am very familiar with regulations/laws, budgets and finding solutions to issues that occur. I also have a common sense approach to problem solving concerns of my clients.
So okay: I would actually disagree that it’s a misconception that you have to be a politician to run for city council. You totally have to be a politician. It’s just that in the moment that the city staffer takes a notary seal and presses it down on your signed affidavit of candidacy, you become a politician.
You might still be completely unqualified for office in any way and that seems to be pretty much the case here. (City Council is a reasonable entry-level political office, but there’s still stuff I look for when people run for it without having held office before. Possible qualifications: having served on some of the many city, county, or state commissions or advisory boards (you can apply to those, no election needed); prior involvement in politics; having worked in any position where you write or implement policy; neighborhood organization work; activism, especially the kind where you’re the one organizing stuff. This is not a complete list.)
She has a set of three priorities (policing — she’s for it, businesses, and homelessness). Her entire platform on ending homelessness is, “My Priority #3: Find a multifaceted solution to help reduce the homelessness. It will take a lot of interdepartmental team work and cooperation to help with this issue but I know Minneapolis can solve this dilemma.”
(That noise you might have heard just now is from all the aides to current City Council reps who read my blog, scream-laughing in unison. Ending homelessness is one of those things that’s harder than it looks, unless you wake up one morning transformed into Jeff Bezos and possessed of the conviction that you can return to your own form by spending all his money.)
Anyway: I would not vote for Joanna.
Nick Kor (DFL)
Nick is young (well, young to me — he graduated college in 2011) and was hired in 2012 to work for Minnesotans United for All Families, where he “played a leading role developing the conversation-based training program that led Minnesota to secure the freedom to marry.” He’s since worked on campaigns, for the Alliance for Metropolitan Stability, and for the state Department of Human Rights.
Nick supports creating a Department of Public Safety, he supports Tenant Opportunity to Purchase regulations and just-cause eviction requirements, and expanding composting.
He’s endorsed by TakeAction and Our Revolution and by a number of City Council reps who don’t live in Minneapolis (Mitra Jalali in St. Paul, Gary Anderson from Duluth). No one from the Minneapolis City Council, but weirdly, none seem to be listed as endorsements on Lisa’s site, either?
Anyway, I would vote #1 Nick Kor. I would list Teqen Zéa-Aida as my #2 because I’d prefer him to Lisa.
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 — Tubby & Coo’s bookstore explains why.
I do not have a Patreon or Ko-Fi, but you can make a donation to encourage my work! I get a lot of satisfaction watching fundraisers I highlight getting funded. My readers have now helped buy a refrigerator for the school nurse at Olson Middle School, outfitted 8th grade Algebra students at Olson Middle School with binders to stay organized, bought a 3-D printer for students at Humboldt high school in St. Paul, equipped a classroom at Whittier with an air purifier, bought a pug mill (a clay mixer that allows you to reuse dried-out clay) for art students at Andersen United, bought copies of We Are Not From Here for North High students to read in 9th grade English class, and funded snacks for kids at Jefferson and Lucy Laney. Here are some other worthwhile fundraisers for high-poverty Minneapolis and Saint Paul schools:
A teacher at Green Central Elementary would like a book/curriculum set that covers “themes such as racism, cultural identity, homelessness, immigration, gender and sexuality, and social activism.” (Your conservative aunt on Facebook who scaremongers about “critical race theory” would keel over in horror at this one.)
A first-year teacher at Bryn Mawr would like a variety of classroom supplies, including individual dry-erase boards, a big easel, a classroom rug, a selection of books, and some educational games.
Two science teachers at Washington Technology high school in St. Paul would like learning materials for their chemistry classes: glassware and microscopes, and equipment that will allow students to “see how adding nanoparticles to a conductive solution affects voltage.”
And a different kind of school fundraiser:
Kaytie Kamphoff is a special education resource teacher at Patrick Henry High School and the co-director/producer of Henry Drama Club. (Christopher Michael is her co-director and their full-time theater and dance teacher.) She initially asked for funds on Twitter just so the Henry Drama Club could stage a couple of plays this year. Ms. Kamphoff has now set her sights higher: she’s hoping to raise enough to run a summer theater program for Northside kids, free for participants, paid for the recent grads/Drama Club alums who work. You can donate to her by Venmo or Paypal: Venmo is Henry_DC and PayPal is Kaytie.Kamphoff@gmail.com. Note “Henry Drama Club” in the memo and if Paypal insists you need the last four digits of her phone number, it’s 5548.
Her Twitter thread is solidly worth reading if you’d like some heartwarming stories of the transformational power of theater in the lives of high school students.