Tensions build as Minneapolis election nears

  • Article by: MAYA RAO and ERIC ROPER
  • Star Tribune staff writers
  • October 25, 2013 - 7:14 PM


A public housing forum Thursday was largely tame until Mark Andrew shot back at Cam Winton’s answer to a question about creating programs specifically aimed at Somali ex-convicts — one of the first times Andrew has jabbed back at Winton, a frequent critic. Winton had said he believed in “colorblind ladders of opportunity.”

“Would I create more programs targeted specifically to Somali-Americans?” Winton asked. “No, I would not. Nor would I create any programs that specifically targeted any other person of whatever ethnic makeup. In our modern multiethnic Minneapolis, targeting programs to particular ethnicities does not make sense.”

Andrew responded: “I actually have to take issue with what I just heard. I think that was an ignorant statement. That’s unbelievable. We have to target government resources to specific communities because different communities have different needs.”

Feedback from the microphone soon drowned out Andrew’s voice, prompting Winton to say, “That’s the stupid meter. It turns people off for saying things that are stupid.”

Winton clarified in an interview that he was referring to Andrew’s comments, not Andrew himself, and that he was alluding to Mayor R.T. Rybak’s comment to MinnPost in September about Andrew making a “deeply stupid” remark.

Subtle criticism

Council Member Betsy Hodges said Friday she would not back a publicly subsidized 1,000-room Convention Center hotel, in a veiled attack on Andrew, who has expressed support for the idea in recent months.

Hodges did not name Andrew until pressed by reporters.

Hodges also took a subtle shot at Jackie Cherryhomes by asking whether they would go back to the days of public subsidies for downtown’s Block E, which Cherryhomes supported as City Council president in the 1990s — but never named her, either.

Cautious answers

A forum Tuesday featuring several Somali candidates and City Council member Robert Lilligren grew tense when candidates were asked their position on same-sex marriage.

There was a long pause and some rumblings from the audience about the relevance of the question.

Abdi Warsame eventually said, “I feel like everybody else,” adding that same-sex marriage is the law of the land and he respects the law.

Abdi Addow also paused before answering. “It’s a very touchy question,” he said, adding that he believes marriage should be between a man and a woman, “but everybody has the right to choose whatever they want.”

Mahamed Cali voiced similar sentiments, saying, “a rule is a rule, but as a Muslim, no, I don’t support it.”

Lilligren, who is gay, said he supports same-sex marriage.

Free on Nov. 5?

Just over a week before Election Day, the city still needs approximately 300 more election judges.

City Clerk Casey Carl said that they are particularly interested in finding judges who speak Spanish, Somali and Hmong.

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