What’s making news in Minneapolis, reported by the Star Tribune’s team of city reporters. Send news tips to baird.helgeson@startribune.com.

Mpls. native running on Green Party ticket returns to MN

Posted by: Eric Roper Updated: October 22, 2012 - 5:43 PM

Minneapolis' hometown hopeful in the presidential race, Green Party vice presidential candidate Cheri Honkala, is coming home.

Honkala, who was born in Minneapolis and rose to prominence here as an anti-foreclosure activist, is stopping in town starting Friday for an event at the Capri Theater and a house party at Lake of the Isles.

Honkala and her running mate, presidential candidate Jill Stein, were arrested last week trying to get into the last presidential debate at Hofstra University.

The 49-year-old had a rough beginning in Minneapolis, as a single mother who eventually became homeless. Her mentions in the Star Tribune archives date back to at least 1987, when an op-ed writer cited her case of being accused of welfare fraud for accepting a job and not reporting the income to welfare officials.

In 1990, she and other protestors occupied vacant buildings owned by the government -- a predecessor to a similar Occupy Homes movement. Honkala eventually moved to Philadelphia, where she worked as an advocate and made an unsuccessful bid for sheriff. In 2008, she organized a "poor people's march" in St. Paul during the RNC.

City Council Member Cam Gordon, likely the highest-ranking Green Party member in Minnesota, is co-hosting the Lake of the Isles party. Stein and Honkala will be on the ballot on Nov. 6, and Gordon plans to vote for them.

“I think they’ve got a great message they’re putting out there," Gordon said. "And one of my theories is in Minnesota, I think it’s so clearly going Obama’s way that I’m hopeful maybe more people will be willing to vote for a platform or vote Green.”

As for the Hofstra arrests, Gordon wishes the debate rules allowed in candidates who are on the ballot in enough states to be viable. Current rules require candidates to score at least 15 percent support in five national polls.

“I think it’s really a missed opportunity that we can’t hear the ideas and even compare the candidates," Gordon said. "And sometimes it’s even an opportunity for smaller or newer candidates or parties to develop their platforms, develop their message, hone their skills. But also for the public just to hear the ideas and even for the other candidates to hear the ideas and realize what’s out there.”

Photo: Honkala leads a foreclosure protest sponsored by ACORN and the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign at the office of the Hennepin County Sheriff in 2009.

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