Minneapolis City Council Members Linea Palmisano and Alondra Cano on Saturday won DFL endorsement for re-election, but it was again an otherwise difficult day for incumbents as delegates met at five wards across the city to try to endorse candidates ahead of November’s election.
Council Members Kevin Reich and John Quincy failed to win endorsement in northeast and south Minneapolis.
Andrea Jenkins, running for a seat that will be vacated by Council Member Elizabeth Glidden, won endorsement in the Eighth Ward, becoming the first transgender candidate to win DFL backing in a Minneapolis City Council election.
Palmisano won in the Thirteenth Ward, which is in the southwest corner of the city, after challenger Adam Faitek suspended his campaign.
In the Ninth Ward — which was expected to be hotly contested — Cano won endorsement over challengers Mohamed Farah and Gary Schiff, after a contentious convention at South High School. Challenger Jillia Pessenda won more delegates than Reich in the First Ward, and Jeremy Schroeder won more than Quincy in the Eleventh Ward.
Cano and Palmisano are the only two incumbents with a challenger to win endorsement thus far, with four more conventions to go.
Through four ballots, Cano’s support hovered just under 60 percent and she couldn’t break the threshold to win endorsement. But her number was rising gradually, and before the fourth ballot results were announced, Farah went to the microphone up front and ordered his delegates to walk out, calling the convention the “worst” political process he’d witnessed.
He and his supporters then walked out of the auditorium into the school’s cafeteria, leaving a quorum made up mostly of Cano supporters, who quickly voted to suspend the rules and endorse Cano by voice vote.
Despite a battle over delegate credentials in recent weeks, the convention ran smoothly until after the third ballot, when Farah supporters began to complain that they were being “held hostage” and Cano supporters argued that all delegates should honor the process and try to endorse a candidate.
Farah never won more than 35 percent of the delegates, and Schiff’s support hovered around 4 percent.
“Our communities cannot afford to turn against one another,” Cano said. “We need bold and brave leaders like myself who take stances when they matter, not when it’s safe, and regardless of the attacks that come our way.”
Delegates in the First Ward in northeast Minneapolis voted three times without endorsing a candidate, though challenger Pessenda won more delegates than Reich, the incumbent, in each vote. A second challenger, Zachary Wefel, dropped out of the race after garnering only 2.1 percent of delegates in the first vote.
Pessenda campaigned on issues including local action against climate change, development of affordable housing and support toward local minority and LGBT business owners. “I will show up, I will listen, and I will work with you to make our ward the ward we deserve,” she said.
On the last ballot before adjournment, Pessenda won 50.9 percent, and Reich won 49.1 percent before both campaigns threw in the towel.
Jessie Bekker is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.