Challengers to Minneapolis City Council incumbents had strong showings at DFL ward conventions Saturday.
Jeremiah Ellison won the endorsement in the Fifth Ward, beating Council Member Blong Yang and Cathy Spann. In the Fourth Ward, Council Member Barb Johnson and Phillipe Cunningham were neck and neck until the convention adjourned with no endorsement. In the Seventh Ward, challenger Janne Flisrand was able to block Council Member Lisa Goodman from getting the 60 percent of delegates necessary to win endorsement.
Four wards held council conventions Saturday, including the Tenth Ward, where Council Member Lisa Bender won without opposition. All 13 council seats are up for grabs this year.
In the Fifth, only Raeisha Williams did not seek the endorsement. Ellison and Spann said they would support whoever won the party nod; Yang did not.
Since being elected in 2013, Yang has faced criticism from those who say he’s out of touch with the North Side. In a speech to nearly 200 delegates, he emphasized efforts to bring resources to the ward.
“We can talk about equity until we’re blue in the face, but if resources are not directed to the North Side, it won’t mean a darn thing,” he said.
Ellison, campaigning as “A Northsider for the North Side,” revved up delegates talking about the minimum wage, support for small businesses and police accountability. “I was raised in this community. I was raised by this community. I will fight for and with you,” he said.
Ellison won about 56 percent of votes after one round, just shy of the 60 percent needed for the endorsement. The second round pushed the vote tally over the edge.
Conventions were more complicated elsewhere.
In the Fourth Ward, a field of four candidates was narrowed to two after a round of ranked-choice voting eliminated Marcus Harcus and Stephanie Gasca. For the next two rounds, council veteran Johnson trailed Cunningham with slightly more than 40 percent of votes. The convention adjourned after three rounds of voting.
Meanwhile, more than 400 delegates convened in Ward 7, where Goodman, who won about 55 percent of the delegates, and Flisrand, who won about 45 percent, held a substantive discussion covering the minimum wage, pedestrian safety, downtown vitality and affordable housing.
Goodman, who was first elected in 1998, was most at home diving into specific policies and her track record. She said public safety is the center city’s primary challenge.
Flisrand found her rhythm talking about pedestrian safety and bike lanes, and pressing Goodman on the minimum wage.
Ward conventions are set for April 29 and May 6.