10th Ward candidate profile: Kendal Killian

Kendal Killian 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.

For Killian, it’s about relationships and coalition building

When Kendal Killian holds a campaign event, it can be a bit of a who’s who of Minneapolis elected officials. His supporters include the Minnesota Speaker of the House, high ranking state lawmakers and local officials from the Park Board and Met Council. 

Killian, a public affairs coordinator for the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees, says that support comes from several years worth of coalition building and political organizing.

“There’s a lot of really qualified people [running in Ward 10],” said Park Board Commissioner Brad Bourn. “But I think with Kendal —  the amount of support he’s getting from people who have worked with him in the past really comes from coalition building and really kind of building that respect.”

Killian, 34, is making a strong push to reach out to Ward 10 renters, which make up nearly 75 percent of the ward’s population but who traditionally don’t get involved in politics.

To that end, Killian often talks about his own recent experience as a struggling Uptown renter who was serving tables at the downtown Dayton’s store cafe in his early 20s while going to school and working on political campaigns.

Killian, a Duluth native, later got a job as manager of development and external affairs at Minneapolis Community and Technical College. That’s how he got involved with his union, MAPE, which he now lobbies for at the capitol.

Killian uses his time as a server to contrast himself with Tuthill, who authored an ordinance cracking down on outdoor patios.

“For many of us, our first job was a serving job or a bartending job,” Killian said. “When we disparage our hospitality industry, we are disparaging the ladder that many folks take on into their life.”

Killian and his wife Kelly Beadle recently bought a home in the East Harriet neighborhood.

He said in late March that he has already knocked 1,000 doors to chat with potential DFL delegates that he will need if he wants the DFL endorsement on April 27.

“He is so good at that, about just engaging people in public policy,” said Speaker of the House Paul Thissen. “It’s a talent that few people really have, and few people have it at the level Kendal does.”

Killian often stresses his connections at the capitol and says he would fight to restore state aid to Minneapolis and increase the renter’s credit.

“The big increase in property taxes that many of us have experienced in Minneapolis is because of the real cut in Local Government Aid to Minneapolis from the state level,” Killian said.

Like his opponents, Killian wants to open Nicollet Avenue at Lake Street and increase mass transit in the ward.

Killian also wants to the city to work with nonprofits or neighborhood groups to set up some sort of alternative to payday lending institutions for struggling residents.

“This is a trap that I, myself, got into, not that long ago,” Killian said. “So people can dig out of that hole and start a path toward financial independence, and that is absolutely something we can do in this city.”