On to the next four candidates! (Just to reiterate: I’m profiling candidates four to a post. I’m going in alphabetical order. If you’re looking for Frey, he was in the last post. If you’re looking for Levy-Pounds, she’ll be in the next post.)
In a conversation on Facebook, a couple of people piled on Frey a bit. Someone noted that he had taken a $250 donation from the Police Federation a few months back, then defended this with “it wasn’t that big a donation.” Someone else noted that he called himself “the BLM candidate,” adding, “I can honestly say that I never saw his butt at the 4th Precinct or anything else. Dehn was there regularly.”
And this kind of touches on two issues I was thinking about last night but was too busy to pull into focus. (I started that post nine days ago and had it sitting in an open browser window and kept getting bogged down so I really wanted to get it done.)
- Frey is really working from an outdated script on police issues. While I would not vote for him for mayor, I feel like browsing Al Flowers’ history with the Minneapolis Police puts a lot of stuff out there pretty clearly. He is a Black man who has been repeatedly beaten up by the cops for no reason. And this isn’t new. This isn’t remotely new. But since 2014, thanks to the Black Lives Matter movement, there’s increasingly an expectation that people like mayors take action to actually deal with out-of-control, brutal police officers, people who use their badge as a license to abuse and even kill with impunity and to endanger the communities they allegedly serve.
But Frey is still talking about how having beat cops will solve this problem. Having Christopher Reiter patrolling your neighborhood every day is not going to help anything. (That link leads to an article with a video of Reiter kicking the man in the face. This guy had been ordered out of his car; he obeyed immediately and got on his hands and knees, like you literally could not ask for someone to be more obviously unresistant and unthreatening. Reiter broke his jaw and left him with a permanent brain injury.)
- Frey is also really fond of claiming credit for stuff, and maybe he actually did a lot of stuff, but there are thirteen people on the city council and it’s kind of hard to believe that he was as personally responsible as he claims to be for as many things as he says he led on, piloted, ran, authored, etc. I hesitated to say this last night because it felt unfair; there are people who are just that energetic. But … I mean … there are also a lot of people out there who will unhesitatingly claim sole credit for a team effort. And someone who will claim to be the BLM candidate (as a white guy! in a race that also includes Nekima Levy-Pounds! when you weren’t showing up at the protests!) …hearing that made me think, “maybe I was trying too hard to be fair about the ‘claiming credit for everything good that’s happened since he took office’ stuff.”
Finally, someone e-mailed me an article about the use-of-force policy stuff that Frey was probably talking about. (Noting that it probably wouldn’t have made a difference for Justine Damond.)
I have never been entirely clear about the extent to which the mayor can impose policy on the police department, in part because the Minneapolis Police Department seems to operate so thoroughly without oversight of any kind. But this bit:
[Police Officers Federation President Bob Kroll] also challenged a provision that would hold an officer accountable “if their actions unnecessarily place themselves, the suspect, or the public in a deadly force situation.” That would make it easier to punish officers even if their actions comply with a law allowing the use of deadly force to protect themselves from great bodily harm or death, he said.
That is exactly the sort of policy change we need, whether cops like it or not. If you shoot a person dead because you put yourself in a bad situation where you then felt the need to kill someone to protect yourself? Yeah. You should be fucking held accountable. I’m sorry that it offends you that the people you supposedly are here to protect want you to actually prioritize not killing people as you do your job?
(And not firing at moving cars ought to be standard policy. You will miss and your bullet will probably hit someone else, so yeah, just get the hell out of the way. I had a friend years ago who watched a security guard fire his gun at a car that was backing out at about 5 mph as the guard tried to block the parking space to keep a shoplifter from getting away. It was in the parking lot of the Lake Street Cub Foods, which is in the same plaza as the Lake Street Target — this is a parking lot that is routinely full of people, day and night, and a bullet that misses its target could hit any number of random people, some of them children. I was so incensed I got in touch with my City Council rep and demanded an investigation. The guard claimed that they were “coming at him and trying to hit him” and as far as I know, absolutely nothing came of this.)
I also heard a bunch of complaints about my comparison between upzoning and deregulation. And, fine. Upzoning isn’t removing zoning, it’s just changing the zoning. But fundamentally, someone found a fancy-pants real estate term to avoid pointing out that the complaint here is that there are a bunch of regulations put into place by well-meaning people that are restrictive, annoying, and having results you don’t like, and you are hoping that removing some of these restrictions will result in market-based solutions to things that everyone agrees are a problem (like “not enough affordable housing.”)
I just find that funny! I mean, on a local level, there are plenty of places where the conservative/liberal divide starts to fall apart. Almost everyone agrees that Minneapolis has a lot of pointless and annoying regulations that are not effectively accomplishing any useful goal; that’s not a Republican stance, that’s the stance of anyone who’s ever found out they were supposed to have their dishwasher installation officially inspected by someone from the city. (To name one minor example.) I am in favor of regulations (including zoning) that accomplish the goals I think are a good idea, and we can join hands across the partisan aisle (although in Minneapolis, the partisan divide is Democrat vs. Green) and remove the regulations that discriminate against the already marginalized (and also the regulations that do literally nothing other than annoy everyone and possibly provide full employment for dishwasher inspectors.)
Finally, I got an e-mail from a friend about this “naturally-occurring affordable housing”:
I’m kind of stuck on the notion of “naturally occurring affordable housing,” as if this is some kind of natural resource that just sprouts out of the ground or something. Do you know if that’s, in fact, code for “older housing stock that is cheaper because of smaller square footage”?
I’m pretty sure that’s an example of what they mean. That in general, it’s housing that’s cheap, not because it’s subsidized or was built as part of a planned affordable housing development, but because it’s just not all that desirable. It’s old, dumpy, small, run down, not terribly private, ugly, in someone’s finished basement to which they added egress windows… anything like that.
I mean, I’m glad we’re talking about this. I’ve lost track of the number of newspaper articles I’ve seen over the years, celebrating the fact that we’re tearing down a “problem property” or unsightly 70s-era apartment complex, glossing completely over the fact that these apartments were actually affordable and are being replaced by trendy condos for the affluent. (There’s usually a single resident who gets quoted saying “I don’t know where I’m going to go,” then back to the “but neighbors said they won’t miss the peeling paint,” etc.)
OKAY. ::cracks knuckles:: Let’s get this election-blogging-show on the road. The first set of four (edited to note: these are the first four alphabetically, I will be covering all sixteen candidates):
Four years ago, I suggested that when picking three candidates (out of 35) to rank, the two most basic questions are, “who here could plausibly do the job?” and “who here could plausibly win?”
Occasionally, candidates show up really mad when I say they’re not a serious candidate. Here’s how I know that you are definitely not a serious candidate for a job like “mayor” — if you have no campaign manager, no fundraising link, no way for interested people to volunteer, no one who appears to be volunteering for you, and no one who’s endorsed you. (If I can’t even figure any of that out because you have no website, then you definitely are not a serious candidate.) Even if all your ideas are perfectly sensible, if you’re not doing this fairly basic stuff, you’re not a serious candidate.
In most cases, not all their ideas are perfectly sensible. They’re a crank. Or they have no actual ideas. Or they’re running 100% on platitudes. (There are serious candidates who run 100% on platitudes, but they also have high-powered endorsements. This might seem unfair; you can take comfort from the fact that I, for one, do notice when someone’s running 100% on platitudes.)
Anyway, on to the first set of candidates!
Here’s the list of everyone running for Mayor of Minneapolis, broken up into convenient chunks of four because I’m thinking I’ll do four people per post.
Troy Benjegerdes FARMER LABOR
Raymond Dehn DEMOCRATIC-FARMER-LABOR
Jacob Frey DEMOCRATIC-FARMER-LABOR
Al Flowers DEMOCRATIC-FARMER-LABOR
Charlie Gers LIBERTARIAN PARTY
Tom Hoch DEMOCRATIC-FARMER-LABOR
Betsy Hodges DEMOCRATIC-FARMER-LABOR
Gregg A. Iverson DEMOCRATIC-FARMER-LABOR
Nekima Levy-Pounds DEMOCRATIC-FARMER-LABOR
Ronald Lischeid PEOPLE OVER POLITICS
L.A. Nik INDEPENDENT
Aswar Rahman DEMOCRATIC-FARMER-LABOR
David Rosenfeld SOCIALIST WORKERS PARTY
Ian Simpson THE IDEA PARTY
Captain Jack Sparrow BASIC INCOME GUARANTEE
David John Wilson RAINBOWS BUTTERFLIES UNICORNS
Some of these people have web pages that are linked from the MyBallot site. Of those, some of them also work. (John David Wilson’s site has not yet loaded for me, which is very disappointing as I’d like to know what the principals of the Rainbows Butterflies Unicorns party are.)
I really need to get going on election blogging, but I have a novel that’s due in November, and I wanted to get a first draft done before I dived into this.
The draft is done! Done-ish. (I need to do a first pass before I send it to beta readers.) It is a YA novel based on my short story Cat Pictures Please, to be published by Tor YA. Anyway, I’ll be getting to this soon, and I took a peek at the city ballots to see just what I was in for.
Both Minneapolis and St. Paul have city races this year. St. Paul’s mayor, Chris Coleman, is not running again, so it’s an open seat. Minneapolis’s mayor, Betsy Hodges, is completing her first term and a number of people are dissatisfied with her, so she’s viewed as vulnerable. Minneapolis also has races for Park Board, City Council, and There are also races for Park Board, City Council, and Board of Estimate and Taxation. (That one’s not a competitive race; if I’m reading it right, there are two seats up for election, and exactly two people running for those seats, both of them incumbents.) In St. Paul, there’s also a School Board race.
Last time, Minneapolis had thirty-five candidates running for Mayor. In the intervening four years, they raised the cost of filing to run from $20 to $500, which has significantly cut down on the number of people doing it — it’s now only 16, so a little under half the number who ran last time. Of those 16, there are 5 or 6 with a reasonable shot at actually winning; 2-3 more who are treating their own candidacy seriously even if no one else is; and a couple of weirdos. I’m really curious whether David John Wilson of the Rainbows Butterflies Unicorns party is John Charles Wilson the Laurist Communist but with a new name and political party? His website isn’t loading for me.
There are three people running for City Council in my old ward; not sure about other wards, and I need an address to plug in to get the Secretary of State site to cough up a sample ballot.
Nine people are running for three Park Board At Large seats. There’s also three people running for the District 5 Park Board Seat. (Again, I’ll need to go hunting for the info on who’s running in the other districts.)
Minneapolis residents can rank three candidates in each race.
In St. Paul, we have ten people running for mayor. There are three I’d describe as front-runners, a couple more who are serious candidates, and one person who I think gets messages from space aliens through her dental fillings. We also have six people running for three School Board seats. In St. Paul, we get to rank up to six candidates for mayor. We get to vote for three school board candidates (because there are three open seats) but we don’t get to rank them, because the method of choosing school board candidates is determined by the State Legislature. (Don’t you envy the people who get to hand over ballots and explain that to people? If you do, you can sign up to do it! They are ALWAYS looking for election judges.)
Anyway! I will be back to start work on this soon. If you live in Minneapolis and want to be sure I cover your City Council race and/or your Park Board race, please leave an address in your precinct in my comments so I can plug that in to the SoS site. (And if you want to just pull up your own sample ballot, you can get it here: http://myballotmn.sos.state.mn.us. This site will also tell you where you go to vote.)
So there’s a declared candidate for the St. Paul School Board who’s (a) a TERF (trans-exclusive radical feminist), (b) apparently also an anti-vaxxer, (c) this is apparently just the tip of the iceberg of her overall awfulness, according to people who know her from Facebook neighborhood groups and so on.
I do not normally start blogging in March for a race that’s going to happen in November, but she’s upsetting enough to have already attracted a bunch of attention. And in fact, there is something worth bringing to the attention of my St. Paul readers that they can participate in if they’re concerned about making sure that TERFs (and other potential assholes) don’t slip by and onto the St. Paul School Board: the DFL Caucuses and City Convention are both still upcoming.
Caucuses are being held next month: which day depends on your ward (if you live in St. Paul). It’s possible that you went to the caucuses a year ago and are already cringing. Just put that thought right ouf of your mind. Caucuses that are not trying to be a presidential primary are completely different events. They are calm, pleasant, celebratory little meetings, and you will be able to drive right over, find a place to park, stroll in, and chat casually with people who are running for School Board and Mayor and who want to earn your support. (And you can ask them things like, “so. Trans kids. Any thoughts?” and see what they say.)
At a lot of caucuses, you basically just raise your hand and sign up if you want to go to the convention to Be a Big Powerful Decider of Endorsements. This is not guaranteed, however. If you have more people who want to go than you have slots, you figure it out with Walking Subcaucuses. But you can, among other things, propose your own Walking Subcaucus for Undecided St. Paul Citizens Who Support Trans Kids and round up a bunch of likeminded people and send some of you on to the City Convention to focus on this particular issue. (Also, if you don’t get to be a delegate, you can easily sign up to be an alternate, and with a City Convention, odds are extremely high that if you show up on the day of the convention, you’ll get upgraded. I mean, for one thing, it’s June 17th. There will always be committed delegates who get up on a nice day in June and think, “fuck spending an entire day stuck inside the Washington Tech high school cafeteria. It is June in Minnesota and I am going to spend the day in my garden.“)
The City Convention is on June 17th, at Washington Tech High School, and will likely be a fairly long day, as they will be endorsing both School Board people and a Mayoral candidate. (Or possibly they’ll fail to endorse a mayoral candidate! That can happen, too. I expect they’ll settle on some school board candidates, though.)
But you can go to your caucus, and you can either sign up to be a delegate, or you can go to a walking subcaucus to send delegates who pledge not to support a transphobic asshole, and you can make absolutely damn sure that this woman doesn’t wind up with DFL endorsement.
(I think she’s very unliikely to get it. VERY VERY VERY. For a whole lot of reasons, including the very basic one of, “when neighbors who barely know you dislike you so strongly that they are actively out there warning people against you, your odds of finding diligent, helpful volunteers who will help you get through the endorsement process are really quite low.” But also, most of the people who show up at the DFL City Convention are quite progressive, and this woman’s views are not going to be a selling point that will impress many people. Note, I have no idea whether she’s even going for DFL endorsement; I don’t get the vibe that she actually knows what the hell she’s even doing politically. She could, I suppose, ask for Republican endorsement, instead, but most St. Paul residents consider that endorsement to be a big old warning label, so that certainly won’t get her any closer to the school board.)
DFL endorsement is extremely important in St. Paul for down-ticket races like school board, because the list of DFL-endorsed candidates get printed on ALL THE THINGS that come from the DFL, and lots of people just use those brochures as a checklist. There’s money that comes from the DFL, and volunteers who drop lit for everyone, and lots of other stuff.
Here’s a post I wrote last year about how a caucus runs:
https://naomikritzer.com/2016/02/28/minnesota-caucuses-what-actually-happens/ Ignore the stuff about (a) crowds and (b) counting presidential preference ballots, that’s no longer current.
And here’s a post I wrote about political conventions, and why you might want to go:
This includes a detailed explanation of Walking Subcaucuses, but one additional note I’ll make: if you’re at your Senate District Convention picking delegates for the State Convention, you’re trying to divide up like 30 seats between 500 eager volunteers. Whereas if your precinct caucus DOES have to run a walking subcaucus to sort out delegates to the City Convention, it’ll be something more like, “50 people want to go and we only have 40 slots.” Very different dynamic.
If you become a City Convention delegate, you can expect a lot of phone calls and visits from people who’d like to serve on the School Board or be the next Mayor of St. Paul. Candidates will likely call you personally and ask to discuss your personal concerns. So among other things, if there’s an issue you feel strongly about, this is a GREAT opportunity to make sure that school board people and possible future mayors hear about it. (Note that these are not fundraising calls: what they want is your physical presence and votes at the City Convention, and hitting you up for money will just encourage you to dodge their calls. Although possibly you’ll get super excited about someone, and if that happens, they will be ecstatic if you want to volunteer, particularly at the City Convention — they need people to come in super early and stake out table space and hand out t-shirts and tell everyone who asks why you are thrilled to be supporting so-and-so… A lot of smaller candidates rely heavily on family members and personal friends to do this particular work, but when they can get convention delegates who are excited about supporting them, that is great news.)
AND ONE FINAL NOTE:
Everyone in Minnesota has caucuses upcoming! And Minneapolis ALSO has very interesting city elections coming up, so if you are a Minneapolis resident, by all means go to your Caucus, Ward Convention, and City Convention. (The Minneapolis DFL page has a list of who’s running for endorsement — not just for Mayor, but for the City Council, Park Board, and BET positions as well. Lots of excitement upcoming!)
St. Paul mayor Chris Coleman is not running for re-election (instead, he’s going to run for governor) so people are starting to announce that they’re running to replace him. I am paying at least a little bit of attention because for one thing, although the election isn’t until next November, the St. Paul DFL caucuses are in April and the St. Paul City Convention is in June, and if I’m a delegate to the city convention I could help decide who (if anyone) gets the DFL endorsement.
I’ll note that the DFL has a lists of people who were delegates to conventions in the past, and during the race for State Rep four years ago, the people interested in the soon-to-be-open seat used this list to contact people who’d been delegates in the past to ask for their support. I got letters, phone calls, and personal visits. A legislative district is pretty small, and it’s harder to do that when you’re running for mayor, but still, much more achievable than individually contacting every individual resident of the city.
You can also buy a broader e-mail list and start e-mailing people, and if you do that, here is the free advice I promised up top: start by introducing yourself. Tell me who you are, what you stand for, what your experience is, and why you deserve my support.
This honestly seems pretty obvious.
And yet, the first contact I got from one candidate looked like this:
I hope this note finds you and your family well this holiday season!
As the year comes to a close, my campaign to be Saint Paul’s next mayor is really starting to heat up. Just a couple of weeks ago Mayor Coleman announced he is not running for reelection; he’s been a strong leader for our city and I look forward to building on his work.
I’m ready to lead our city, building on our growth and progress while making sure that every family in every Saint Paul community grows and prospers along with it.
And that means I need your help at our year-end deadline. We’re building a strong campaign, but we need the resources to keep growing and win. Please contribute today and help me become Saint Paul’s next mayor!
There is a lot at stake, and Saint Paul is at a turning point. Our next mayor will shape our city for decades to come. I am committed to making sure Saint Paul is a city that serves everyone.
Your help today is critical. At our year-end deadline we’ll report how much we’ve raised, and we need to show our campaign’s strength and viability. Will you help before 2016 ends by making a contribution today?
I’m looking forward to working with you in the coming year and beyond to make our city stronger, more prosperous, and more welcoming than ever.
“I look forward to building on (Chris Coleman’s) work; I’m ready to lead our city” is not a useful introduction. “I need your help at our year-end deadline” is what you say to someone you already know is a supporter, not a person for whom this is your first attempt at contact. At this stage, you should be telling me who you are and what your experience is, not hitting me up for money. You should be inviting me to your meet-and-greet, not your fundraiser.
Someone named Chris Kluthe (his campaign chair? I don’t know, as he doesn’t introduce himself either) followed up later the same day with:
Naomi – I wanted to be sure you saw Melvin’s email. With our deadline less than 72 hours away, it’s critical that we end the year strong. Please, click here now to chip in and help make Melvin our next mayor!
Is Melvin Carter III awesome? He might be awesome, I have no idea. Having looked him up, he’s apparently a former Council Rep for Ward 1 and quit midway through his second term to work for the Department of Education. He started running a year ago (because he guessed that Chris Coleman wouldn’t run again). He would be St. Paul’s first black mayor.
I got fundraising e-mails from Melvin Carter or Chris Kluthe on December 29th (twice), December 30th, December 31st (twice), and January 2nd. On the 30th I e-mailed a reply to the “it’s critical that we hit our goal before this deadline” message with, “Who even are you? Nonstop nagging me for donations is not how you introduce yourself to possible supporters!” to see if anyone would reply to me in a more personal way. Nope!
It’s maybe a little early to say that he’s lost my vote, because … maybe he’s awesome? But I find it obnoxious to be hit me up for money, six times in ten days, via a mailing list I did not sign up for, from someone I’d never heard of before he started asking me for money. (Should I have heard of him? Maybe? But remember, I only moved to St. Paul in 2012, and he quit his council job in 2013, and at that point I was still trying to remember the name of the rep from my own ward, let alone anyone else’s.)
I probably ought to unsubscribe from his e-list, but at this point I’m honestly curious how many times his campaign is going to ask me for money before reaching out to tell me anything about him.
Also, hey, if you live in either Minneapolis or St. Paul, both mayoral races are shaping up to be pretty interesting. Chris Coleman is not running again, and Betsy Hodges has a bunch of serious candidates running against her. You can go to your local caucus and become a delegate to your City Convention and help decide who gets the DFL endorsement! (Or, as has happened at many such conventions, help block the person you don’t like from getting the DFL endorsement! It’s exciting either way.)