After decades of population loss, Minneapolis is growing again. That’s great news. But along with the city’s success are growing pains — particularly in popular neighborhoods like Uptown. Managing between desirable growth and livability issues is difficult, as evidenced by the challenges faced by Tenth Ward first-term incumbent Lisa Bender. While her approach to this balancing act isn’t perfect — and she needs to be more serious about combating crime — Bender deserves another term at City Hall.
Bender’s educational background and experience in city and regional planning as well as environmental and transit advocacy are important assets to the ward, which is facing an affordable-housing problem. Bender, 39, acknowledges this challenge, and if re-elected she should focus on building City Council coalitions needed for effective solutions.
Development pressures are also a priority for Saralyn Romanishan, our second choice in the race. Romanishan, a University of Minnesota graduate who works for Metro Transit, is close to her community through leadership roles on her neighborhood association and as founding member of the Minneapolis Residents for Responsible Development Coalition. While Romanishan, 48, has rightly identified key concerns in the ward, her approach may not be as favorable to continue the city’s steady growth, let alone leap ahead with an Amazon headquarters-like opportunity.
Like Romanishan, David Schorn, our third choice, has contributed much to his community, previously in the St. Cloud area and now in Brooklyn Center, where he has taught history and coached for 30 years. Schorn, 54, a past Education Minnesota union leader, also helped advance efforts to legalize same-sex marriage. He, too, emphasized rent stabilization, parking and traffic issues but did not make a compelling case to elect yet another new council member from a ward that has not seen an incumbent return for years. Nor did Bruce Lundeen, 67, a self-styled “urban Republican” who emphasized more support for the police force, among other issues.
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Voters in the south-central corner of Minneapolis have the chance to elect a fresh, energetic voice who can represent their ward, but also use its stability as a perch for building coalitions across more fractious parts of the city. Jeremy Schroeder, 42, is our choice for the Eleventh Ward. Schroeder has a deep background in forging such cooperative ties and appears to combine a progressive passion tempered by a needed pragmatism and a willingness to listen to opposing viewpoints.
As evidence of the latter, Schroeder points to his work in Illinois as the leader of an effort to repeal the death penalty, which required building a carefully balanced coalition that succeeded in making that state the fifth in the nation to make that change. “I’ve been successful because I listen to the other side,” Schroeder said. “And not just listen, but really work to understand their viewpoint.” As policy director for the Minnesota Housing Partnership, Schroeder understands the need for affordable housing and would push for such tools as inclusionary zoning. But he is also a former landlord mindful of property owners’ need for stability and the limits of developers. Working toward that balance is an approach more likely to yield results than the extreme viewpoints of more doctrinaire progressives. A former executive director for Common Cause Minnesota, Schroeder has pushed for greater transparency and accountability in government, and we would expect those efforts to continue on the City Council.
John Quincy, 55, who has represented the ward for two terms, is our second choice. Quincy is the council’s DFL majority leader and heads the Ways and Means and Budget committees, along with serving on a host of other committees and groups. That should make him a powerful leader on the council, and the relative stability of his ward should give him a perch to pursue creative solutions that might be tougher for members from more problematic areas.
But Quincy appears overly comfortable with the status quo and is more follower than leader. His list of accomplishments is thin for one of the more senior members of the council, and he does not appear to have a clear list of specific goals he would work toward in a third term. If he should win re-election, we would urge that he take a higher profile on issues. Leadership requires risk-taking and active consensus-building, and Quincy could do with more of both.
Erica Mauter, 39, director of the Twin Cities Women’s Choir and a former chemical engineer, is also running. Smart and engaged, Mauter nevertheless has some drawbacks that should concern voters. Even though the vast majority of homes in her ward are single-family dwellings, Mauter said she favors “upzoning” the entire area, allowing developers to “build a triplex on the footprint of a single-family home.” Requiring parking would only increase the cost, she said, adding that parking close to one’s home is “a privilege.” The Star Tribune Editorial Board strongly supports public transit, but Mauter would do well to gain more sensitivity to those with young children, infirmities or concerns about safety at night or inclement weather that make parking an issue not to be so lightly dismissed.
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For additional information about the candidates, including links to their websites, news stories and an explanation of ranked-choice voting, go to the Star Tribune’s 2017 Minneapolis and St. Paul voters guide at http://strib.mn/2yJxgmk. To read all of our endorsements, go to http://startribune.com/2017endorsements.