Minneapolis' 11th Ward, tucked away at the southernmost corner of the city, is a quiet place to live — except for the airport noise.
But this election season, two candidates challenging City Council Member John Quincy say the ward has been flying under the radar for too long.
Jeremy Schroeder and Erica Mauter said they're hearing complaints that Quincy isn't accessible to constituents and doesn't communicate enough about what he's doing at City Hall. Both said if they're elected, residents can expect a more visible and communicative council member.
"If our City Council member is passionate about housing, then we should hear about housing. If they're passionate about fixing the streets, then we should hear about it," Schroeder said. "When people say, 'I didn't hear anything from my City Council member,' that's a problem."
Quincy, who is pursuing his third term, disputes the charge that he's unresponsive but said if that's what constituents are feeling, he'll try to find ways to better connect with them.
"Overall, the conversations I'm having with people are that they're pleased with the city," he said.
The 11th Ward is mostly single-family homes, and most residents are college-educated and white, according to demographic information from the city. There's not much of a police presence, because most crimes are property crimes. There are plenty of parks, and the main commercial node at Chicago Avenue and 48th Street, which stretches into the Eighth Ward, is lined with quaint, well-kept storefronts.
Craig Paulson said he opened his electric bicycle shop there about a year ago. He and his wife live in Owatonna, Minn., and own a second shop there but are considering relocating to south Minneapolis permanently.
"This is the spot we want to be," he said.
But 11th Ward residents say they are concerned about a lot of the same issues as people living in other parts of Minneapolis — rising housing costs, public safety and policing, racial equity — even though those issues may not affect them directly.
Mauter said she thinks the ward could be an example to the rest of the city for how to tackle big issues, from housing to public safety to climate change.
"As a place in the city that is in general better-resourced, how do we show leadership?" she said.
An engineer by training, Mauter has a background working with arts and social justice nonprofits and is executive director of the Twin Cities Women's Choir. Her platform falls in line with a group of candidates with activist backgrounds running in wards throughout the city.
Schroeder, an attorney who works as policy director for the Minnesota Housing Partnership, has a range of experience in political organizing — including working to raise the state minimum wage and abolish the death penalty in Illinois — and is the vice chairman of his neighborhood board.
Both Schroeder and Mauter spoke out earlier this month about the flow of outside money into the 11th Ward race, after downtown business leaders sent out an e-mail sounding the alarm about left-leaning candidates and soliciting donations for a PAC called Minneapolis Works. Though Quincy stands to benefit from that money, he put out a statement saying he was "disappointed that independent expenditure groups have inserted themselves into the 11th Ward City Council race."
Quincy's campaign raised about $26,000 in the first part of 2017, according to a campaign finance report. Mauter raised about $15,000 and Schroeder raised about $12,000 during the same period.
Still, Quincy said he's encountering undecided voters, including people who voted for him previously. He responds by talking about his track record, he said, including his leadership positions as chairman of the Ways and Means and Budget committees, and about the work he plans to do on racial equity, affordable housing, business growth and youth development.
But he recognizes that people are still making up their minds.
"They're going to make independent decisions," he said, "which I have to respect."