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North Side leads in spending for City Council election, but much is loaned

Posted by: Eric Roper Updated: September 11, 2013 - 10:53 AM

Updated at 10:53 a.m.

Those following the City Council races may be surprised to learn that more money has been spent this year in the battle for North Minneapolis' open seat -- $90,000 -- than any other race in the city.

Most of that hasn't been raised, though. Two of the three DFL candidates battling for the open council seat have made substantial loans to their campaigns.

Brett Buckner has loaned his campaign about $45,000 this year, in addition to about $7,200 last year -- more than any other council candidate citywide and all but one mayoral candidate. He has also spent more than any other council candidate in the city.

Blong Yang loaned his campaign nearly $13,000. Yang and Buckner both raised about $8,000. One other candidate, the Green Party's Kale Severson, has yet to report.

The loans were pointed out by the treasurer for the third candidate, attorney Ian Alexander, in an e-mail to supporters this morning. Bruce Center noted that Alexander's haul of $20,000 was more than the combined fundraising of the other two candidates, though they both surpassed him in spending.

"Please, read these reports and decide for yourself," Center urged. "I think you will be as shocked as I was."

(About $3,000 of Alexander's funds came from owners and people affiliated with three two downtown strip clubs and Sneaky Pete's bar.)

Buckner's $52,600 in spending is unusual for council races (see our breakdown). The largest chunk of that went to his full-time campaign manager, Trayshana Thomas, while the rest largely helped pay for a team of nearly a dozen canvassers and helpers.

The former consultant -- now full-time candidate -- says the money was an inheritance from a family member who passed away. Buckner noted that the economic situation in North Minneapolis makes it harder for residents to volunteer for a campaign.

“I’m using it right now to be able to further our message, to ensure that people have an understanding of what is possible within this community," Buckner said.

Yang said that the loan was necessary because of fundraising fatigue from his last campaign -- he ran for Hennepin County commissioner last year -- and the number of candidates running across the city. Yang, a former investigator in the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights, forgave a $33,000 loan to his commissioner campaign in January.

“A lot of it is just from credit cards," Yang said of his recent loan. "We think we’ll be able to raise a good chunk of it in the next two months so that it can be covered. But if we don’t, yea, I’ll have to take it out of my pocket.”

Pictured: Alexander, Buckner and Yang.

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