Mayor Betsy Hodges and nine others on Wednesday delivered a letter asking the Minneapolis DFL to move its June 24 city convention to avoid conflicts with Ramadan and the Twin Cities Pride Festival.
“We urge the committee to consider changing the date of [the] Minneapolis DFL City Convention to allow more members of our communities to partake in their local government,” the letter said, adding that the date of the convention runs counter to the DFL’s “values of inclusion and advancement for all members of our diverse communities.”
The letter writers didn’t suggest a new date. The event, where the Minneapolis DFL chooses which citywide candidates to endorse, is slated to be held at the Minneapolis Convention Center.
Rep. Ray Dehn, DFL-Minneapolis, who is running for mayor, signed the letter along with two Somali-American candidates for the Park Board, and six others.
“I’m really concerned about a 12- or 13-hour convention when people aren’t eating or drinking water,” said Abdi Mohamed, a candidate for Park Board who signed the letter. “This will not include people.”
Two of Hodges’ opponents in the 2017 mayoral race — Nekima Levy-Pounds and Jacob Frey — were absent from the letter.
Levy-Pounds said on Facebook that Hodges’ campaign manager contacted her campaign manager seeking a meeting, but gave no details.
“I was not aware of the letter or the issue with [the] convention,” she wrote. “I am always on social media and I have an e-mail address. Some direct communication or specifics would have been nice.”
Frey said his campaign was never asked by Hodges’ campaign to sign the letter, and he first learned of it Thursday night.
Jorge Contreras, Hodges’ campaign manager, said one of Frey’s staffers, Conrad Zbikowski, was contacted by someone from the Dehn campaign. The Dehn campaign confirmed this but said nobody left Zbikowski a voice mail.
“We want a totally inclusive process, and feel so strongly that we would chip in to help offset expenses resulting from the date change,” Frey said. “If the intention were really to unite, all Mayor Hodges had to do was communicate.”
Hodges and Frey have offices on the same floor of City Hall.
This year, Ramadan runs from May 26 to June 25, making the date of the often grueling citywide convention the second-to-last day of the Muslim month of fasting. It will also be the Saturday of Twin Cities Pride.
The convention date was chosen July 14, confirmed Aug. 11, and the lease for the Minneapolis Convention Center was signed in September.
Representatives from both the Frey and Hodges camps have been involved in several of the meetings, said Dan McConnell, chairman of the Minneapolis DFL. He’s left a message with the Convention Center to see about a new date, he said. June 17 isn’t available at the Convention Center, and he’s reluctant to move the convention to July 1, which will be the Fourth of July weekend.
“It’s tough to find a date that works for 3,000 people,” he said.