People of color make up more than half of the 56 candidates who are running to get a seal of approval from the Minneapolis Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party for the upcoming virtual endorsement event.
In the past, communities of color have raised concerns about the fairness of the DFL endorsement process and of the party in general. Some have felt the caucus and convention process is rigid and unwelcoming.
But the DFL Party's newly established format to endorse candidates online because of the pandemic has attracted a growing number of candidates of color. For the first time, the party is providing its endorsement information in Hmong, Somali, Spanish and English. And those without access to a computer will be given a number they can call or text in their native language.
Minneapolis DFL Chairman Devin Hogan said what makes this endorsement process different is that people can participate on their own time. People will have a month to register and a week to decide which delegate in their precinct they want to send to the convention.
"This is going to be, in our estimate, the most widely accessible option for endorsement," Hogan said.
Policing and public safety are expected to be top issues in the 2021 races for mayor and the 13 council seats, which are all up for election. Seats on the boards of Estimate and Taxation and Park and Recreation will also be on the November ballot.
All City Council Democratic incumbents with challengers and Mayor Jacob Frey are seeking party endorsement.
Frey challengers Sheila Nezhad, Kate Knuth and Phil Sturm are also vying for the party's endorsement. Another Frey challenger, Jerrell Perry, is running as an independent.
Knuth and Sturm told the party they would end their campaigns if they don't win the endorsement, Hogan said. Frey and Nezhad declined to make that commitment.
Frey was among a group of about 20 candidates who recently signed on to a letter stating that endorsing candidates through a virtual format would be viewed as "illegitimate" by many campaigns and observers and threatens to undermine the integrity of the DFL Party.
The Minneapolis DFL Party has rejected those claims, noting the goal of the event "is to bring people together as Democrats and to give the candidates and their delegates more time to interact with each other."
The seats being vacated by City Council President Lisa Bender, who represents the 10th Ward, and Ninth Ward Council Member Alondra Cano have attracted new faces and are considered to be the most competitive council races. Ubah Nur, Alicia Gibson, Katie Jones, Chris Parsons, Aisha Chughtai, David Wheeler and Steven J. Frich are vying for the 10th Ward.
Candidates running for Cano's seat are Rita Ortega, Jason Chavez, Al Flowers Jr., Carmen Means, Mickey Moore and Haji Yussuf.
Council Members Andrew Johnson and Linea Palmisano now face challengers in their 12th and 13th wards. In the North Side's Fifth Ward, Council Member Jeremiah Ellison faces at least five challengers in the race: Victor Martinez, Cathy Spann, Kristel Porter, Elijah Norris-Holliday and Suleiman Isse.
Sixth Ward Council Member Jamal Osman and Eighth Ward Council Member Andrea Jenkins are so far running unopposed.
Three candidates are seeking the DFL endorsement for a Park Board seat being vacated by Brad Bourn.
For the first time in a decade, the Board of Estimate and Taxation race is also competitive. Four candidates are vying for two open seats; two are seeking the DFL endorsement.
Registration opens April 1 for those who want to vote for delegates or run as one. Convention deadline for ward candidates who want to seek the party's endorsement is May 19. Those running for mayor or Park and Recreation or Estimate boards must submit their forms by May 26 to seek endorsement.
To validate people's addresses, Hogan said, they will mail everyone who registered a postcard with a code on it that they can either enter online or on their phone by texting or calling. More information is available at minneapolisdfl.org.
Faiza Mahamud • 612-673-4203