Election 2018: Hennepin County Commissioner, District 2

(By request.)

The incumbent commissioner, Linda Higgins, is not running for re-election. District 2 includes North and Northeast Minneapolis but also Golden Valley, Medicine Lake, Plymouth, and St. Anthony. (You can find a map of all the districts here.)

On the ballot:

Blong Yang
Irene Fernando (DFL-endorsed)

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Election 2018: Hennepin County Sheriff

I wrote about this race in the primary, but I emphasized what an absolute asshole Rich Stanek is, so I wanted to briefly revisit this race and talk a little about what makes Dave Hutch so cool.

Rich Stanek (who’s an asshole) is a Trump supporter and an ICE lackey. Dave Hutch wants to make sure that anyone, regardless of where they were born, can come to law enforcement if they’re a victim of or witness to a crime, and if they’re suspected of a crime, he wants them treated like anyone else.

(Here’s a really excellent article that talks in more detail about the Sheriff’s role in immigration policy enforcement, and how Dave Hutch will be different from Rich Stanek.)

Hutch wants to require training on mental health crises and de-escalation. He wants transparency in government (Stanek is openly contemptuous of FOIA requests.) He would be the first openly gay Sheriff in Minnesota. He has decades of experience in law enforcement and is also the son of a police officer, so if you’re looking at all this thinking “yes, but can he do the actual job here,” the answer is definitely.

If you live in Hennepin County, please vote for Dave Hutch and talk to your friends about this race. Hennepin is an overwhelmingly DFL county, but a lot of people don’t know a ton about the Sheriff’s office or Rich Stanek. Make sure they know why they should vote for Dave Hutch!

EDITED 10/20 TO ADD: a Facebook Live video of a Stanek fundraiser (which he’s at). He poses with “MAGA-Woman,” there are two people cosplaying Trump, it’s really … something.

Election 2018: Hennepin County Attorney

The Hennepin County Attorney does a bunch of stuff but here’s the aspect of the job that tends to get the most attention these days: this is the person who decides whether to file charges against the cops when they shoot someone.

Currently, the job is held by Mike Freeman, who did file charges against Mohamed Noor for shooting Justine Damond, but did not file charges against the officers who shot Jamar Clark or Thurman Blevins. His opponent is Mark Haase. More below the cut.

On the ballot:

Mike Freeman (Incumbent)
Mark Haase (DFL-endorsed)

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Election 2018: Hennepin County Commissioner, District 4

Peter McLaughlin has been the District 4 Hennepin County Commissioner for approximately forever. (Okay, found it: since 1991. I was starting college in 1991 and didn’t move to Minneapolis until 1995.)

I have a long-running sense of not liking him very much, although in part this is because he was a close ally of Sharon Sayles Belton, who I didn’t like (I really disliked the projects the city undertook during her administration), although she got replaced by RT Rybak seventeen years ago now, so this is a somewhat outdated grudge.

My main ongoing grudge against Peter McLaughlin is that he is a big fan of spending public money on sports facilities. He helped pass a county-wide tax to build the Twins ballpark, and to circumvent the law saying they were supposed to hold a referendum on it. He was less enthusiastic about the county funding the Vikings Stadium, but had this hilarious/infuriating line about why referendums were bad:

A referendum “doesn’t make a bad idea any better,” said Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin, who voted for Target Field but dislikes the Vikings stadium proposal. “I don’t believe in government by referendum. It lets elected officials off the hook for making judgments about these things.”

The point of a referendum isn’t to make “bad ideas better,” it’s to make it possible for people to shoot down the plan of spending their money on sports facilities. It’s not like Minneapolis voters shoot down every referendum that comes their way; they faithfully pass school-levy referendums. People want referendums on sports facilities because it appears to be the only possible way to keep politicians from cramming them down our throats over and over and over.

More recently, he tried to swing a deal for the soccer stadium whereby the “excess capacity” of the Target Field sales tax would go to pay for the soccer stadium, instead. What that means: currently, there is a 0.15% sales tax collected in Hennepin County. Out of that money, $5 million/year goes to libraries, youth and sports programs, and long-term ballpark maintenance. The rest goes to pay off the $350 million in bonds that were sold to fund the construction of Target Field. At the moment, that tax is collecting quite a bit more than they’d expected, allowing the county to pay off the debt early. (They’d planned on a 30-year repayment plan, and they’re going to be done in 20 years. At which point the tax is supposed to just end.)

I mean, there are a couple of ways to look at this. I tend to think, “no, you assholes, pay off the motherfucking debt and dump the tax we never agreed to.” It’s not entirely unreasonable to say, “hey, we’ve planned for that thirty-year term, so let’s just take the extra money and spend it on civic improvements,” but I don’t then say, “…like yet another sports facility!!!!” 

As it happens, that plan fell through and the stadium was built in St. Paul.

On the plus side, Peter is a big fan of bike paths and transit. I am also a fan of bike paths and transit, and I particularly love the Greenway, which he was one of the movers-and-shakers for.

But this is the first time in years that Peter has had any sorts of real opponent; last time, the only person running against him was Captain Jack Sparrow. So I’m excited at the possibility of someone who likes bike paths and transit, and is not and endless booster of circumventing laws about referendums to build sports stadiums. (If you’re a sports stadiums kind of voter, Peter’s your guy, but one of the bizarre things about the whole “yeah, let’s spent a gazillion dollars building yet another sportsball palace!” thing is that public sentiment runs so strongly against these projects!)

Here’s who’s on the ballot:

Peter McLaughlin
Angela Conley
Megan Kuhl-Stennes

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Election 2018: Hennepin County Sheriff

One of those small silver linings to the hurricane of storm clouds that is the current presidential administration: a lot more Hennepin County residents realized in the last year what a flaming dick Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek is.

In 2016, he sent deputies out to North Dakota to the Dakota Access Pipeline protests. He notifies ICE when foreign-born people get booked into the jail.  He’s a Trump fan and lackey.

I’m not sure if it’s fair to blame him for the fact that his son downloaded child porn on a cell phone connected to the Stanek campaign.

In his favor, he punched a Nazi sympathizer while in Reno. I mean, credit where credit is due.

But it’s not like Stanek being an asshole is new news. (Here’s what I wrote about him in 2014 — the quick summary involves use of the n-word, a road-rage incident where he beat up another driver, and an arrest of someone for being on a public sidewalk because she’s previously annoyed him. That road rage incident was back in 1989, but I’m struck by the fact that he got into another fist fight in March, which suggests he’s still got a volatile temper, even if the March dude, as noted above, probably deserved to be punched a few more times.)

Here’s who’s on the primary ballot:

Dave Hutch
Rich Stanek
Joseph Banks

Joseph Banks is hard to Google because he shares a name with a fancy menswear store. He appears to be a decent guy with law-enforcement experience who wouldn’t be Rich Stanek, but he hasn’t gotten a ton of traction.

Dave Hutch (also a decent guy with law-enforcement experience who isn’t Rich Stanek) has the DFL endorsement; I think he’s (maybe) got a shot at beating Stanek, if people actually vote in this race:

The fact is, only about 347,000 people voted in the 2014 sheriff’s race. Stanek snagged 68 percent of those votes. This was after the majority of Stanek’s own deputies endorsed his opponent, Eddie Frizell.

The rub: About 714,000 people were registered to vote at 7 a.m. that morning.

In Hennepin County in 2016, 429,288 people voted for Hillary Clinton; 191,770 voted for Donald Trump. Even with the suburbs, Hennepin County swings very, very blue. But most people, even the ones who vote in the midterms, don’t vote in this race.

One note: I think his name is actually Dave Hutchinson? So on the ballot he might be Dave Hutch, Dave Hutchinson, or Dave “Hutch” Hutchinson, which was probably what he was going for when he filled out the forms.

Vote for Dave Hutch in the primary, and talk to your friends about voting for him, too (especially once he gets past the primary, talk to them about voting for him in the general). Tell them why they shouldn’t vote for Stanek, and why they should vote for Hutch. There are thousands of people in Minneapolis who’d vote for Stanek’s opponent if they knew more about Stanek; maybe enough to swing this race.