Notes from the Minneapolis mayoral campaign trail

  • Updated: August 14, 2013 - 9:47 AM

Ostrow; Paul T. Ostrow; Minneapolis City Council member, Ward 1; ; 2005 ORG XMIT: MIN2013080914060324

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Eighty-three days remain until Election Day in Minneapolis, which features the most competitive political races in the state this year.

Not only does the city have an open mayoral seat — the first in two decades — but aggressive challengers and incumbent departures have left a majority of the City Council wards up in the air. Candidate filings officially closed on Tuesday, with about 30 people stating their intent to run for mayor.

Several of those candidates have been in the race for a while, including council members Betsy Hodges and Don Samuels, former county commissioner Mark Andrew, wind energy attorney Cam Winton, and former council president Jackie Cherryhomes.

But other serious candidates have recently jumped in the fray. They include park commissioner Bob Fine, software executive Stephanie Woodruff and former alderman and council president Dan Cohen. And then there’s Bob Carney, who has run for office so many times that he registered as Bob “Again” Carney.

The next major forum will be held at the State Fair on Aug. 24. Here is a sampling of news from the campaign trail last week.

Woodruff boasts endorsements

A latecomer to the mayoral race, Woodruff announced last week that the City Council’s former president will chair her campaign.

The news that Paul Ostrow, who retired in 2009 after more than a decade on the City Council, is supporting Woodruff could give her a boost as she seeks to separate herself from an already crowded field of candidates.

Woodruff, a Democrat, is currently a citizen member of the city’s audit committee.

She also said in a statement that the Fifth District Independence Party had endorsed her bid. The exact implications of that endorsement, beyond a tagline for posters and campaign literature, remain unclear. The local Independence Party endorsed Lisa McDonald in the 2001 mayoral race and “Papa” John Kolstad in 2009.

“Stephanie is bold and she’s an innovator,” Ostrow, now an Anoka County prosecutor, said in a statement. “She will work tirelessly for a better quality of life for everyone in the city. She is a natural leader and will be a great mayor.”

Ostrow was president of the City Council from 2002 to 2005. He later served as budget chair from 2006 to 2009.

Candidates weigh in on police misconduct

Following a number of recent reports concerning police misconduct, several candidates said they would fight for improvements.

Hodges said during a City Hall news conference that the city needs to improve its system for monitoring officer behavior.

“We need to enhance our early intervention system that we have right now,” Hodges said. “Because we have an early warning system, but ... we also need to intervene when we see that problems might come. I think we need to enhance that in general.”

Just how she would do that remains unclear. She said the system “needs to be stronger” and “more widely throughout the community.”

She also emphasized the continuation of a number of existing efforts. She said the city should continue to hire officers that better reflect the city’s population, for example.

As for the replacement of the Civilian Review Authority (CRA), which investigated complaints against police, with a Police Conduct Review Panel comprised partly of police officers, Hodges said it was the result of a change in state law. She did not support the change, but is “waiting to see the results” of the new panel.

Andrew said in a statement that the CRA was treated like a “political football” and eliminated instead of strengthened. He said he was “troubled” by the nixing of the CRA.

“The Police Conduct Oversight Commission has yet to even begin work,” Andrew said. “How can we as a city claim to take seriously issues of racial bias when we haven’t done the most basic things like ensure there is proper oversight?”

Eric Roper • 612-673-1732 Twitter: @StribRoper

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