John Quincy touts the Working Families Agenda, new small business programs and infrastructure improvements when highlighting his accomplishments as the Ward 11 City Council member.
He’s hoping those efforts, along with others in senior housing and budgeting, among others, will help him win a three-way race for the seat this fall.
Quincy, who had a career in marketing before joining the City Council in 2009, faces challenges from Jeremy Schroeder, a lawyer who works in the nonprofit sector, and Erica Mauter, an engineer by trade who administers an arts program. None earned the DFL endorsement this summer, but Schroeder won the most votes from delegates.
In an interview, Quincy, said he considers the advancement of the Working Families Agenda, infrastructure investments, work to help youth and record-setting development in Minneapolis to be key City Council accomplishments over the past four years.
He said the city has made a lot of investments in small businesses, noting programs like Business Made Simple, which aims to reduce barriers for business owners. He also noted passage of the $15 minimum wage, and the paid sick time policy.
He said he played significant role in ensuring street funding was part of a 20-year infrastructure plan passed last year. The deal ensured that the City Council didn’t need to ask voters to increase property taxes to pay for the improvements.
He also noted other infrastructure improvements in areas such as stormwater treatment, resurfacing of roads and the addition of bike and pedestrian infrastructure.
“Everything the (city government) does, we try to put a youth lens on,” he said. “…As a result, we’re seeing great changes, especially in our hiring processes (and) our pathway programs with the Fire Department and the Police Department.”
Other accomplishments include ensuring the city’s fiscal stability and leading development of a senior housing policy, he said. He also appeared proud of the city reaching $1 billion in development for a sixth straight year, a figure that included $300 million in public development.
He noted his roles chairing the Ways & Means and Budget committees and as the council’s DFL majority leader, adding that he’s earned great respect among city staff and has strong relationships with local elected leaders. He noted support from state Sen. Scott Dibble, state Reps. Frank Hornstein and Jean Wagenius and Mayor Betsy Hodges, among others.
“You just name somebody, and I’ll have a relationship with them,” he said.
He said he has great relationships with neighborhood associations, too, noting that he helped ensure they received funding the city had promised them. He said he convenes neighborhood leadership and staff from all Ward 11 neighborhoods on a quarterly basis to talk about common issues.
Quincy said priorities for a third term would be equity, investing in public safety and building trust between public safety and the community. He added that the city needs to continue investing in small and local businesses, noting trust issues after new regulations on minimum wage, earned sick time and Styrofoam containers.
He also said he would like to expand relationships with neighborhoods, continue strong fiscal management and move forward with senior plans.
Affordable housing debate
One issue on which Quincy and his opponents appear to somewhat disagree is how to spur affordable housing development, something all agree is needed. As part of their strategies, Schroeder and Mauter want to change zoning codes to allow for higher-density housing projects in hopes of spurring development.
Mauter said there’s a “missing middle,” of two-, four- and six-unit apartment buildings that could be added to the 11th Ward, potentially near commercial nodes in neighborhoods. “We can add a little bit and everybody will still be okay,” she said.
Quincy said he thinks some higher-density development would be appropriate but that existing zoning code provides for that density in the ward. He added that those mid-density projects will happen organically.
Quincy downplayed the feasibility of inclusionary zoning, or requiring developers to make a certain percentage of units affordable or pay a fee. Schroeder and Mauter have advocated such a policy.
It’s something limited by state law and wouldn’t lead to developers investing in properties, Quincy said
“The only way we can actually stimulate affordable housing production with a control and a requirement is to put a subsidy (on a project),” he said. The city does that through several funds, including one to preserve “naturally occurring” affordable housing and an affordable housing trust fund that provides gap financing for projects.
Quincy took credit for ensuring that the trust fund has been fully funded at about $10 million annually. He advocated for more resources for the naturally occurring affordable housing program.
However, Schroeder said he doesn’t think Quincy has been proactive enough in getting enough affordable units. Mauter said she doesn’t think he’s been proactive enough, period.
“It was impossible to know what we was going to do until he actually voted,” she said. “That doesn’t give me confidence that he was actually advocating on my behalf.”
Schroeder said that neighbors consistently say that not all emails and phone calls to Quincy’s office are returned. He said the ward needs a responsive, proactive leader who will focus on constituent needs.
Quincy said he is the most responsive of all City Council members and that he talks to the most people on a personal level at coffee shops.
“Nobody works harder than I do on the Minneapolis City Council,” he said.
He noted his experience in local causes, such as the expansion of Pearl Park and the installation of playgrounds at Hale School. He added that he and other council members approach the job with the idea that they “meet people where they are and when they want to meet.”
“The best way to get re-elected is to do your job really well, and that’s what I’m focused on,” he said.