In no corner of Minneapolis are the opportunities and challenges of population and economic growth more evident than in the Tenth Ward, home to booming Uptown and the eastern shore of Lake Calhoun. It’s also home to what may be the city’s most hard-fought council race this year. It leads today’s recommendations for next Tuesday’s city election.
In seeking a second term despite being denied DFL endorsement, Meg Tuthill is offering Uptown residents an often underappreciated asset — City Council seniority, and the experience and clout that go with it. That’s an advantage the 10th Ward has not enjoyed since Lisa McDonald left the office in 2001. It’s something voters should not cast aside lightly.
While challenger Lisa Bender is a standout among this year’s many first-time city candidates, her case for replacing Tuthill is not compelling. Voters should stick with Tuthill.
Tuthill, 64, is a longtime Uptown small-business owner who won election four years ago on the strength of decades of civic involvement. She’s hardworking and responsive. She understands the balancing acts that healthy urban growth requires — small local businesses with large corporate investment, homeowners with renters, affordability with gentrification, large-scale development with human-scale livability, high-performing city services with affordable property taxes.
While she’s so attached to the Tenth Ward that she speaks of it as family, Tuthill is attuned to the entire city’s needs. For example, she supported the Vikings stadium deal in 2012 for its potential to create jobs for unemployed people in the city’s less fortunate precincts — even though she knew diverting tax money to professional sports facilities was not popular in the ward.
Tuthill acknowledges that she was too heavy-handed in 2011 when seeking to quiet outdoor music at Uptown bars and restaurants after 10 p.m. with a tough new city ordinance. But she navigated through the storm that ensued by negotiating with the hospitality industry to creatively mitigate noise without curtailing summer evening fun.
If Bender and Tuthill were a pair of neophytes vying for an open seat, our recommendation might be different. Bender is impressive. At age 35 and only four years a resident of Minneapolis, she demonstrated appeal and savvy as she wrested DFL endorsement from Tuthill in five ballots. An urban planner educated at the University of California, Berkeley, Bender has focused on transportation policy in two state government positions and as founder of the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition.
But Bender’s claim that Tuthill is an opponent of greater population density does not jibe with the huge growth that has occurred on Tuthill’s watch. Some 1,200 new housing units are today in various stages of construction, by Tuthill’s count, many of them coming in large apartments along the Midtown Greenway.
We disagreed with Tuthill’s support for a moratorium on development in Dinkytown this summer. But we appreciate the attention she pays to development’s effect on jobs, neighbors, recreation and the environment. She says she wants the Tenth Ward to grow in such a way that it attracts not just transient 20-somethings, but people at every stage and station of life. That’s a goal worthy of a second term.
Also on ballot is Scott Hargarten, 26, of the Pirate Party. Hargarten, a personal-care attendant for people with mental disabilities, makes a passionate critique of big-money influence in politics but does not propose a plausible remedy.
DFL endorsee Alondra Cano gets our nod in the Ninth Ward’s six-way race, in which two other candidates, Ty Moore and Charles Curtis, accepted our invitation for screening. They are all first-time candidates, vying for an open seat created when three-term council member Gary Schiff stepped aside in the south-central, demographically diverse ward.
Each of them would have a lot to learn if elected. Cano, 32, seems likely to be a quick study. She already has the knowledge and relationships in City Hall acquired as an aide to City Council Vice President Robert Lilligren. She also has worked this year for Minneapolis public schools to improve their communication with immigrant families. She hails from one herself, having come to the United States from Mexico at age 10.
Her experiences include a staff position at the Minnesota Immigrant Freedom Network, which successfully lobbied the Legislature for more opportunities for children of undocumented immigrants to attend college. Her career has focused on bettering the lives of minority and disadvantaged people.
Moore, who will turn 36 on Monday, is an organizer for Socialist Alternative who has Green Party backing. He calls for aggressive city action to end housing foreclosures with schemes that could prove costly to taxpayers. While Curtis, 30, faults Moore’s ideas for keeping housing affordable, his aren’t much better. He would use taxpayer dollars to subsidize the down payments of foreclosed homeowners attempting to buy back their homes. In this field, Cano is the pragmatist.
This south-central area of Minneapolis has relatively stable neighborhoods, along with challenges such as airport noise, traffic speeds and increasing property taxes.
Incumbent John Quincy, 51, is seeking a second term and deserves to be re-elected. He is endorsed by the DFL Party, TakeAction Minnesota and several major unions.
Quincy has an MBA and had his own marketing consulting business before joining the council in 2009. He has become an expert advocate for his ward on airport issues and uses his business background to raise important city budget questions. He wants to continue to focus on growing the city’s property tax base, supporting affordable housing, rebuilding infrastructure and expanding transit options.
As a longtime volunteer with youth and school programs, he serves on the city’s Youth Coordinating Board and works with the county, park and school boards to improve outcomes for kids.
Also running are Matthew Steele, 27, a bank information technology employee, and Bob Schlosser, 67, a retired Hennepin County deputy sheriff and former small-business owner. Steele is endorsed by the Independence Party but says he is running as an independent progressive.
To learn more about the candidates we recommend, go to their websites: www.megtuthill.com, www.alondracano.com and johnmquincy.org.
An earlier version of this editorial listed Nate Griggs as a candidate in the 10th Ward. Although his name will be on the ballot, Griggs states that he is no longer seeking election.