Hanna, Samuels, Tuthill and Quincy offer experience, new ideas.
Editor's note: The Star Tribune Editorial Board is endorsing candidates in the four Minneapolis City Council races it considers most newsworthy and competitive. The decision not to offer opinions on other council races should not be read as an endorsement of an incumbent or challenger.First Ward: Susan Howitz Hanna
Northeast Minneapolis has done the city a good turn in sending Paul Ostrow to City Hall since 1997. He's been a leader on matters at the core of city governance -- budgeting, public safety, land use and more. His retirement leaves a void on the council.
DFL endorsee Kevin Reich and neighborhood activist Susan Howitz Hanna have the credentials and commitment to represent the ward capably. But Hanna would bring to the job greater political independence, a clearer perspective on the needs of both the ward and the city, and more evident persuasive skill.
Hanna, 50, is an account manager for Qwest Communications who grew up and raised a family in the First Ward, and has a long record of civic involvement. She's sensitive to the pleas of businesses for less city red tape, of senior citizens for property tax relief and of families for safe, walkable neighborhoods. She exhibits the pragmatic maturity needed to balance those interests.
Reich, 42, is a master of governmental processes and intricacies as project director for the Holland Neighborhood Improvement Association. He would approach City Council service as a tactician, with a large problem-solving toolkit at the ready. But his focus on the details could cloud his view of how best to use those tools.
Also running in the First Ward are restaurant manager Tom Alessi; writer/advertiser Mark Fox, and Moose on Monroe bar owner Larry Ranallo. Alessi, 43, who has Republican endorsement, wants to reduce taxes. Fox, 43, has interesting ideas for employing volunteers in service to the city. Ranallo, 47, is a small-business booster. Each of them offers a worthy perspective and should stay engaged in civic life.
A City Council member from the most crime-ravaged part of the city who can point to a dramatic reduction in crime while he headed the city's public safety committee ought to be a shoo-in for reelection. Instead, Don Samuels has a tough five-way fight on his hands in his quest for a second full term. His record should be rewarded with reelection.
Samuels, 60, is a gentle but occasionally outspoken man whose candor has brought him criticism. But his forthright integrity has also won him respect and has contributed to impressive results for his ward. Samuels has battled a fierce headwind from the economy and state aid cuts to snare more than $140 million in realized or scheduled private and public job-producing investment on the North Side between 2008 and 2012. His positive relationships with the mayor and his fellow council members have done much to make that happen.
His reelection bid is bumping into his constituents' impatience for a better economy; resistance to property tax increases, which resulted largely from state aid cuts and debt incurred long before Samuels took office, and a claim that the innately reserved former clergyman is not sufficiently visible or responsive to constituents.
Those sentiments have created an opening for three competent challengers. Former Council Member Natalie Johnson Lee, 45, returns to the ballot after a stint in nonprofit work and personal development consulting. She's joined by two vigorous political newcomers, Kenya McKnight, 32, and Lennie Chism, 44, both engaged in nonprofit work aimed at spurring small-business growth. Also running with the Independence Party label is Star Tribune employee Roger Smithrud. Among the challengers, McKnight, 32, is the comer. She's poised and articulate, and would be an energetic advocate for the North Side.10th Ward: Meg Tuthill
The retirement of Ralph Remington after only one term leaves one of the city's most vital wards in need of a representative with wide-ranging ability. The ideal candidate would combine the community roots and business perspective of Meg Tuthill, the financial skill of Kim Vlaisavljevich, the environmental conscience of Dan Alvin and the new-media savvy of Matt Dowgwillo.
Our nod goes to Tuthill, 60, with some reservations. She has a nearly 40-year history as a retail business owner in the Uptown area. Her public policy thinking will be informed by deep familiarity with the ward and the city. We hope she's also capable of listening, avoiding snap judgments and reaching out to people whose talents complement her own.
She could start with her opponents. Vlaisavljevich, 30, is a business accounting consultant with public service in her genes. Her father was the longtime mayor of Eveleth. Her candidacy is handicapped by her recent arrival in the ward. But she's bright, able and one to watch.
Like Tuthill, Alvin, 36, has a small-business background. He's been an executive chef at three south Minneapolis restaurants and was involved in the Green Party before a recent switch to the Independence fold. Alvin can't match Tuthill's community connections. Neither can Dowgwillo, 30, owner/operator of The Thrifty Hipster online entertainment publication.11th Ward: John Quincy
Voters in the south-central border ward, represented for two terms by retiring Council Member Scott Benson, have a clear choice. Only DFL endorsee John Quincy, a 47-year-old marketing consultant and public schools activist, is ready for City Hall service. He's conversant on a wide range of city issues and has the requisite personal skills to play a constructive role on the council.
Only one of the two other candidates, Gregg Iverson, sought Star Tribune endorsement. The 64-year-old former teacher and Vietnam veteran has run for various offices at least eight times previously. Cab driver David Alvarado, an unendorsed Republican, is also on the ballot.