One of the most competitive races against a sitting member of the Minneapolis City Council is shaping up in the Uptown area, where four people are vying to replace Meg Tuthill.
On Tuesday, more than a hundred residents packed into the First Universalist Church for the first candidate forum of the 2013 Minneapolis election season. Tuthill, who has served on the Council since 2009, faces a challenge from Lisa Bender, Kendal Killian and Ken Bradley. The last candidate, Nate Griggs, is overseas serving in Afghanistan.
Bender founded the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition. Killian is the Public Affairs Coordinator for the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees. Bradley was formerly the Program Director for Environment Minnesota.
As Uptown is currently a hotbed of development activity, here are their answers to questions about high-density construction and mass transit.
Tuthill: Important to have density and also repurpose historic properties like the Buzza building. “I do firmly believe that we need smart development. And just because the zoning states one thing does not necessarily mean that that project is going to fit into that community.”
Bender: Density is important to grow the population of the city. She added, “We’ve seen a lot of growth in our neighborhoods, but…I think we often miss some of the critical elements, which is how these buildings look and feel as you’re passing buy, as you’re walking by.”
Killian: There is a need to retain the character of Uptown’s core streets. “If we gentrify and just kind of tear everything down too quickly, I don’t know if we’re maintaining that character.” He added, however, that “we need to at least initially listen to people and be open to things and not say no immediately.”
Bradley: Supports urban density. “Throughout history, whether we’re looking at K-Mart on Nicollet and Lake Street or the CB2 on 31st and Hennepin, when we do suburban-style development, we fail our city. Because we’re not embracing who we are and what we are as a city.”
Mass transit improvements:
Tuthill: There is too much disparity between transit options north and south of Lake Street. “We do need to ramp up, certainly, our bus service or any mass transit south of Lake Street.” She said more limited bus stops will reduce travel times and incentivize transit use.
Bender: Streetcars may not be the best decision for Nicollet and Central Aves. – enhanced bus could be completed faster. Also, she said, “We need somebody who’s going to advance Hennepin to make sure we are planning for improved transit on that corridor. Because we need a better connection to downtown.”
Killian: Need to take an expansive view of what constitutes Uptown when considering transit. “To me that includes Nicollet Avenue. It includes the whole Midtown Corridor, and how we’re going to connect the Hiawatha light rail line over to the Southwest light rail line at West Lake [Street].”
Bradley: Hennepin needs enhanced bus service to ensure faster travel. “I understand that there are still discussions to be made about [streetcars], and I’m open to other ideas. But as a bus user I’m going to say I think modern streetcar is a pretty darn good idea, and will really enhance our city.”
Photo: Tuthill, Bradley, Bender and Killian