Minneapolis City Council could see up to 7 new faces

  • Article by: ERIC ROPER and MAYA RAO , Star Tribune staff writers
  • Updated: October 29, 2013 - 9:31 AM

The 13-member body also could gain its first Hispanic member or first Socialist in years.

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Voters are likely to make history next week in south Minneapolis.

The City Council could see its first Hispanic member ever — or first active Socialist since the 1920s — if either front-runner wins an open seat representing the Powderhorn and Phillips communities next Tuesday. Overall, seven of 13 seats could have new representation next year because three sitting members are facing stiff challengers and four incumbents are not returning.

Six candidates are vying for the Ninth Ward seat being vacated by longtime Council Member Gary Schiff, but the leading contenders are Ty Moore, a Socialist Alternative candidate backed by the Green Party, and Alondra Cano, endorsed by the DFL Party.

Schiff, a DFLer, said he has not endorsed a successor because he believes that the candidates have similar values, but different leadership styles.

“Ty Moore has the strong street organizing skills but risks being seen as a protester who won’t be effective in City Hall,” Schiff said. “Alondra’s challenge is convincing people that a DFL candidate can hold strong against corporate welfare.”

Moore is an activist who co-founded the local Occupy Homes movement, which stages sit-ins to prevent banks from seizing particular foreclosed houses. His campaign has focused heavily on stopping foreclosures and raising the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour — the latter of which would require state action. He has been endorsed by the Service Employees International Union, and he accuses Cano of being too close to corporate interests and the mainstream DFL.

At a protest Monday criticizing outside spending in the race, Moore said the DFL runs the city “more in the interest of big business than the interests of working people.”

Cano is a communications specialist for Minneapolis Public Schools who would be the first Mexican-American on the council. She is a former aide to Sixth Ward Council Member Robert Lilligren, worked as an activist on Latino issues, and has billed herself as the candidate with the most relationships at City Hall and elsewhere to help advocate on behalf of the ward. Mayor R.T. Rybak attended a fundraiser for her earlier this month.

Cano views Moore’s campaign platform as too narrow and has pushed a broader focus. She said that foreclosures are important, but that there is much more to the issue: promoting homeownership; supporting those who will never have the down payment or credit score to buy a house; helping property owners reduce their utility bills through energy efficiency; and providing living-wage jobs.

She said when she talks to small-business owners on Lake Street about Moore’s plans to hike the minimum wage to $15, they say such a change would close them down.

The other registered candidates are Charles Curtis, Patrick Fleetham, Abdi Abdulle and Gregory McDonald.

Here’s a breakdown on the other three open seats:

Fifth Ward, including Willard-Hay, Near North, Jordan

Safety and economic development are the driving issues in the competition to represent the city’s most challenged ward, where Council Member Don Samuels is leaving his seat to run for mayor.

Attorney Ian Alexander came within two votes of winning DFL backing this spring, but the convention adjourned without an endorsement. He is focused on economic development more than crime, because crime is a symptom of “economic inopportunity,” he said.

Brett Buckner, a community organizer, wants to stabilize neighborhoods, create living wage jobs, and ensure that the city and especially the police are better public servants.

Attorney Blong Yang said that safety is the most important issue for voters and that the Police Department is understaffed by about 100 officers based on national standards. He wants to have a more workable civilian police review board with subpoena power.

Those candidates are all DFLers.

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