With more than two years to go before they will have to face another election, some Minneapolis City Council members aren’t taking a break from raising money.
At least a handful of the council’s 13 members have held fund- raising events in the past few weeks, or have them planned soon. Some of the most active are among the seven new members elected in 2013 and are now establishing themselves as powerful forces on the council.
Lisa Bender, who represents Uptown, recently held a June 23 “Summer Celebration” with suggested contributions of at least $50. A day later, a group called Minneapolis Progressives organized an event for Alondra Cano, whose ward covers Phillips and other south-central Minneapolis neighborhoods. And on June 25, Jacob Frey drew a few hundred people to his own “Summer Soirée.”
Frey, who represents the North Loop and part of northeast Minneapolis, said he and other council members typically do a couple of big fundraising events a year. He called it a “necessity” that most would prefer to avoid.
“I don’t think any politician enjoys doing it, but we have the overarching goal of dramatically increasing voter turnout and engagement and it certainly helps if you can pay organizers a decent wage,” he said.
Andrew Johnson, who has two upcoming events, said for some new candidates in particular, keeping up the pitch for cash is crucial because they are still paying off campaign debt. Johnson said he’s proud that he didn’t focus his campaign on building a sizable war chest — but now has to deal with reality.
“My philosophy when I was running for office, was that I want to spend all my time reaching out to voters, talking to constituents, building relationships and not on fundraising,” he said. “I made it a priority during my campaign, and the flip side of that is now I’m doing some fundraising to pay that off.”
The amounts council members had stashed in their campaign accounts at the end of 2014 vary wildly. Council newcomer Blong Yang’s account is empty, while veteran Lisa Goodman has more than $95,000.
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