Being a voice for downtown Minneapolis — its businesses, residents, employees, shoppers, conventioneers and the rest — is an unwritten but inescapable responsibility for the City Council member from the Third Ward, which straddles the Mississippi River.
We wish the incumbent Steve Fletcher had embraced that responsibility more fully. Instead, in his single term on the council, Fletcher, 44, has become a leading voice for what he calls a "leaner, more focused police force," while offering too little response to legitimate pleas from downtown stakeholders for immediate action to address escalating violence at the city's core.
Michael Rainville, Fletcher's leading opponent, shares that critique of Fletcher's performance. What's more, he's well attuned to downtown's needs. Through 35 years as an official with the Minneapolis Convention and Visitors Association, Rainville made a career of touting downtown Minneapolis. He also provided volunteer leadership on an impressive array of civic projects throughout the city. Rainville gets our endorsement nod.
It's telling that Rainville, 68, blocked Fletcher from receiving DFL endorsement for a second term. Rainville hails from a family with a long history of city service, and is well known in his own right for leadership on projects including saving the Ritz Theater in northeast Minneapolis and creating a memorial for survivors of sexual violence at Boom Island Park. That record has won Rainville an impressive array of endorsements, among them that of former Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton and former council member Don Samuels.
Two other names are on the Third Ward ballot. Merv Moorhead, 55, is a DFL political newcomer with a business bent gained through a 30-year career at General Mills. His willingness to serve and his grasp of city issues are commendable. Also on the ballot is independent Hope Hennessey, who did not seek Star Tribune endorsement.
The Star Tribune Editorial Board operates separately from the newsroom, and no news editors or reporters were involved in the endorsement process. To read all of our endorsements, go to startribune.com/package-opinion-endorsements/.