Opinion editor's note: Editorials represent the opinions of the Star Tribune Editorial Board, which operates independently from the newsroom.
Fourth Ward: LaTrisha Vetaw
The Fourth Ward covers the northwesternmost corner of the city with the Mississippi River as its eastern border. Its racially diverse residents tend to have higher rates of unemployment and poverty and are most concerned about the city addressing livability issues, public safety, policing, jobs and economic development.
North Siders have been well served by first-term incumbent LaTrisha Vetaw, who merits re-election (latrishaforward4.com). Vetaw was a voice of reason during her four years on the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and has maintained that quality as a City Council member. Her major focus has and will continue to be on the basics that make the city a place where people want to live and do business. So, she and her office spend considerable time responding to concerns about things like illegal dumping, street and alley plowing, littering and problem properties.
While on the council, she has stood firmly against a 3% rent control limit, against allowing homeless encampments indefinitely, and in favor of funding police officers at the authorized levels. As chair of the council's Public Health and Safety Committee, she's been part of bringing new leadership to the Minneapolis Police Department and is regularly working with the department on reforms and recruitment.
The incumbent has the DFL endorsement and a deep understanding of how government works and what it takes to get things done. She helped secure more than $1 million in funding for safety efforts in her ward, including improved lighting and partnerships to reduce violent crime. And in her next term she vows to continue work on economic development, bringing more jobs to her ward and expanding affordable housing.
A former community clinic health policy director, Vetaw knows the community well and has worked successfully to reduce youth smoking and sponsor food drives for seniors. And she told editorial writers that she'll put her public health know-how to work to combat the opioid crisis.
Challenger Marvina Haynes works with a cleaning service and told editorial writers that the city has not responded to her requests for subsidized housing in a timely manner (marvinahaynesward4.com). She seems eager to work for North Side community but has little knowledge about management or city operations.
Also running are Angela Williams and perennial candidate Leslie Davis (angelawilliamsforward4.com, lesliedavis.org). Both were invited but did not participate in Star Tribune Editorial Board interviews.
Fifth Ward: No endorsement
Three candidates are running to represent north-central Minneapolis' Fifth Ward neighborhoods. None earned the Editorial Board's endorsement. Our thoughts on each:
Incumbent Jeremiah Ellison, an artist, is running again (jeremiahforward5.com). He was first elected in 2017. While he declined an invitation to interview with the Editorial Board, he participated in a Fifth Ward League of Women Voters' forum, and his knowledgeable answers reflected his years of experience. We also applaud his focus on increasing homeownership.
Our concerns stem from policy differences. He was one of the council members who called for disbanding the city's Police Department after the 2020 murder of George Floyd. That background isn't helpful as the city grapples with hiring difficulties amid concerningly low police staffing levels and the need for sweeping reforms.
The council would be better served by moderate voices focusing on local issues, not trying to right global injustice from Minneapolis, which is what Ellison appears most passionate about. Community concerns continue about Ellison's constituent service, though his campaign points out that he's held "office hours for constituents every Saturday for these past three years."
Victor Martinez, a pastor at an Assemblies of God church, is Ellison's strongest challenger, with two commendable signature issues: improving constituent services and attracting new businesses after the closure of two key North Side retailers earlier this year (victor4citycouncil.com).
Martinez's opposition to rent control is also the right call given scant evidence that it works. In addition, he supports more funding for police and grasps how critical crime control is for constituents' well-being and economic growth.
Concerns include whether Martinez is a good fit for this ward given his leadership within a religious denomination known for conservative views. Questions also linger about delegate irregularities earlier this year and a dispute that led a local DFL leader to seek and win a temporary restraining order against Martinez, claiming that she was harassed by his supporters after he shared her contact information.
Martinez told an editorial writer that he'll be vindicated as this is further adjudicated and claimed that some local politicians don't like him, so they've "weaponized" the court system.
Also on the ballot is Phillip Peterson, a baker at Lund's (phillip4the5thorg.godaddysites.com). He's a likable political newcomer who would strengthen a future candidacy by acquiring additional community and volunteer service.
Sixth Ward: Kayseh Magan
Implementing the sweeping police reforms required after damning state and federal investigations is one of the most daunting challenges ahead for Minneapolis' elected leaders.
Magan, who aims to unseat incumbent Jamal Osman (jamalosman.org), has worked in corrections and as a fraud investigator for the Minnesota Attorney General's Office. That experience will inform decisionmaking as the city continues to navigate the reforms required after the Minnesota Department of Human Rights and the U.S. Department of Justice detailed longstanding discriminatory policing.
But Magan also understands what it's like to be on the receiving end of disturbing public safety practices. In 2022, Fairview Health Services apologized to Magan after he accused its security of racial profiling. The city must strike a balance to control crime while respecting individual rights. Magan's lived experience would be invaluable in calibrating this.
Magan proposes a responsible approach to rent control, one that would allow exceptions for inflation and new construction. He also advocates robust enforcement of housing codes and for striking a sensible balance on homeless encampments — connecting people in need with services but also heeding nearby neighbors' concerns about crime and drugs.
Osman, who also is Somali American, was elected in a 2020 special election and earned the Editorial Board's endorsement in the 2021 regular election. He tends to be a swing vote, a welcome contrast to stridently progressive colleagues. A notable achievement: advocating successfully for allowing all five Muslim daily calls to prayer to be broadcast in the city year-round.
Osman's family, however, is entangled in the Feeding Our Future fraud investigation. On Oct. 18, a lawsuit filed by the Minnesota Attorney General Office accused Osman's wife of creating a nonprofit for the "purpose of directing funds to herself, her family members and her co-conspirators." Another nonprofit that Osman incorporated and left is also under scrutiny. Neither Osman nor his wife have been charged with any crimes, but the household nexus is troubling.
Worku, who said he works at a hospital front desk, is a polished speaker, but his 2021 resignation from the Seward Neighborhood Group, along with allegations of delegate irregularities in this race, give pause.
For more on the Nov. 7 elections, see the Star Tribune newsroom's voter guides for Minneapolis and St. Paul. Our recommendation for approval of St. Paul's ballot question on a 1% sales tax increase is here. See also our full list of endorsements in City Council races in Minneapolis and St. Paul. The Editorial Board operates separately from the newsroom, and no news editors or reporters were involved in the endorsement process.