10th Ward candidate profile: Ken Bradley

Ken Bradley Credit: By Nick Halter

For the neighbors living around Uptown, the 2013 City Council election provides the most competitive race in the city, as four candidates look to defeat incumbent Meg Tuthill.

On April 27, DFL delegates will meet to decide which, if any, candidate they should endorse in this November’s election. A DFL endorsement has historically nearly guaranteed a victory in the November election since city races are not partisan and do not require primaries.

Three of Tuthill’s challengers are vying for the DFL endorsement: Lisa Bender, Ken Bradley and Kendal Killian. A fourth candidate, Nate Griggs, isn’t seeking the endorsement.

Ward 10 is an interesting area of the city, particularly right now, as apartment development is booming.

Ward 10 is made up of the neighborhoods of Lowry Hill East, Whittier, East Calhoun, CARAG and the north half of East Harriet. 

Humor an asset for environmental advocate Bradley

It’s a March night and Ken Bradley is speaking to a small group of potential DFL delegates and donors at a house party, a gathering much like those happening in City Council wards across the city.

Bradley, a 47-year old environmental organizer, is outlining his vision for the city, particularly for Ward 10. The former improv actor and Comedy Central producer and writer uses one of his strengths to warm the crowd, telling a joke about his brief relocation to San Francisco, a city known for its large gay population.

“I had lived in Minneapolis up until then, and I never had never been asked out by a woman, ever,” Bradley said. “Then I moved to San Francisco, and a woman asked, ‘are you gay?’ I said no. She said, ‘well, what are you doing Wednesday?’”

The group broke out in laughter, and Bradley (who volunteered for Minnesotans United for All Families) began to explain how he wants to preserve Uptown’s historic buildings through smart redevelopment.

“I love that he has a background in theater and improv,” said former Minneapolis Park Board Commissioner Tracy Nordstrom, who hosted the party. “Politics needs a little more humor. I think that’s a great leveler, I think it’s a great way to bring people together.”

Bradley wrote for the TV show “Let’s Bowl,” which aired for two seasons on Comedy Central in the early 2000s. It was filmed at locations in the Twin Cities, including Bryant Lake Bowl, and was a mix between reality and scripted television in which people in disputes would settle their conflict in a bowling game.

If you do a Twitter search for the show, there’s still a crowd that is bummed that the show isn’t on anymore. Some clips are still available on YouTube.

Bradley, both during and after his artistic career, has worked in politics and environmental advocacy, working on Mayor R.T. Rybak’s first campaign and several environmental organizations. He was the director of Environment Minnesota from 2009 until just recently, when he quit the job to focus on his campaign.

Bradley has lived all over the ward for most of his adult life. He lives near 32nd and Dupont, and points out that he’s within sight of the home of his ex-wife, a supporter of his campaign whom he says will be caucusing for Bradley at the April 27 DFL Ward 10 convention. Bradley is re-married and has an adult son.

It’s clear that the environment is a passionate topic for Bradley, and he says he wants to make Minneapolis a leader in reducing global warming.

 “I believe that, honestly, the greatest debt that all of us are leaving future generations is global warming pollution,” Bradley said.

Bradley said he wants to push Xcel Energy when the city is negotiating a new lease with the energy utility to make more of its portfolio renewable energy.

He supports streetcars on Nicollet and Central Avenues and enhanced bus service on Hennepin Avenue. He lashes out against “suburban style development” in Uptown.

Kim Bartmann met Ken Bradley many years ago when he was a theater artist at her Bryant Lake Bowl theater. Bartmann now owns several restaurants in the area, including Barbette, Gigi’s and Pat’s Tap.

She’s throwing her support behind Bradley.

“Ken has a long history of working and organizing, and I think he’s a great listener,” said Bartmann, who opened the first LEED certified restaurant in Minnesota. “I think he’s really good at bringing stakeholders together and problem solving.”