Minneapolis mayoral candidate Nekima Levy-Pounds said late Monday night she will not seek the DFL endorsement, a “conscious decision” announced on the eve of the city’s precinct caucuses, which are the first step toward party endorsements.

Levy-Pounds, in a joint statement issued with City Council candidate Raeisha Williams, questioned the legitimacy of the endorsement process and of the Minneapolis DFL Party in general.

They said the DFL’s control of Minneapolis for decades has yielded some of the worst racial and economic disparities in the country, that the caucus and convention process is “confusing and unwelcoming,” and that conventions are a waste of time for mayoral candidates since they typically fail to result in an endorsement.

“Women of color, especially, are often discouraged and sometimes even blocked from pursuing political office by DFL leaders and insiders. The DFL endorsement process … severely limits the possibility of viable candidates of color from competing for office during November elections,” said a statement from Levy-Pounds, a civil rights attorney and prominent figure in the Fourth Precinct occupation. “In the advent of ranked-choice voting, it makes little sense to keep in place an antiquated process that limits voter choices and keeps power in the hands of the few.”

Succeeding in the caucuses requires recruiting supporters to show up on a Tuesday night and commit to being delegates at a convention later this spring and summer, all in the hopes of winning the endorsement in a DFL-dominated city.

In two mayoral forums thus far, Levy-Pounds has been a forceful communicator with a clear message of sweeping away the status quo. But she faces well-funded and well-organized opponents. Mayor Betsy Hodges is running for a second term. Other challengers include Council Member Jacob Frey, state Rep. Raymond Dehn, former Hennepin Theatre Trust chief Tom Hoch and young filmmaker Aswar Rahman.

Williams, who is running against Council Member Blong Yang and challenger Jeremiah Ellison in the Fifth Ward, which includes the Near North Side, also said she rejects the DFL process.

“Through my experience with the DFL, I have witnessed the means that they will take to silence the voices of black women running for political office,” Williams said. “I refuse to allow my voice to be silenced and I am committed to running for office to uplift and revitalize the north Minneapolis community. Win or lose, it will be by the hands of north Minneapolis residents who turn out at the polls … and not by a small group of people who participate in the DFL Convention.”

Both Levy-Pounds and Williams are seeking “the people’s endorsement,” a campaign they say is meant to amplify and uplift the voices of all Minneapolis residents.

“No matter what,” Levy-Pounds said, “I am going all the way to November and I would ask for the continued support of all who are ready to see a paradigm shift in city politics and a break from ‘business as usual.’ ”


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