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Fourth council member leaves convention without DFL nod

Posted by: Eric Roper Updated: May 4, 2013 - 5:50 PM

Updated at 5:53 p.m.

Upstart City Council candidate Jacob Frey handily won the DFL endorsement on Saturday after incumbent Diane Hofstede withdrew from contention, citing irregularities in the caucus process.

Hofstede, who plans to run in the November election, is the fourth council member who has left their local DFL convention without the party's nod in recent weeks. Her ward covers much of the central riverfront, including parts of downtown and northeast.

She announced her withdrawal to an auditorium at DeLaSalle High School filled with red Jacob Frey campaign shirts. Frey campaign staff estimated that more than 70 percent of the delegates were their supporters.

"The process has become flawed," Hofstede told the crowd. "Older residents and our new Americans have been discouraged and sometimes disrespected while trying to participating in the endorsement process."

Hofstede had made several pledges to political groups and media outlets that she would abide by the endorsement, but will now challenge the DFL endorsee. "I will take my campaign to the people and let them decide," she said.

Council Member Robert Lilligren made similar accusations when he withdrew from his DFL convention last week, which was also packed in his challenger's favor. 

"This process has been legitimate," Frey told a crowd of cheering supporters. "It has not been flawed in any way."

Two delegate challenges, one from each campaign’s supporters, were filed but never came to the floor because the convention did not get that far, said city DFL chair Dan McConnell.

Following the convention, Hofstede said in an interview that several precincts had “problems communicating the process to people who wanted to be engaged,” particularly members of the city’s East African community. She later added some people were recorded as alternates — a backup delegate — ­who wanted to be regular delegates.

In one precinct with a large East African population, however, nearly 40 people were elected delegates from one address inhabited largely by East African residents, McConnell said. A reporter in attendance on caucus night witnessed some initial confusion which caused many East Africans to volunteer as alternates, but the process was later repeated. One of the attendees helped translate proceedings into Somali.

About ten of the precinct’s 30 listed alternates appeared to be East African, McConnell said. Mohamed Barre, who was coordinating some of the East Africans in the precinct that night, said there were challenges understanding the process. “We did not want to be alternates as long as we could have more delegates,” Barre said.

Frey spokeswoman Julie Harrison said the Hofstede campaign had "borrowed a page from the playbook of what happened in [Lilligren's ward] last week."

In North Minneapolis on Saturday, council president Barbara Johnson cruised to an early victory on the first ballot of her ward convention. Her challenger was Kris Brogan.

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