Candidates debate density, flight path in Ward 13 forum

In front of a crowd of about 120 people at Washburn Library, candidates Matt Perry and Linea Palmisano debated several city topics

Credit: Nick Halter

Two candidates for City Council in Southwest Minneapolis’s 13th Ward met for a forum on Tuesday night to debate the top issues facing the area and the city.

Ward 13 includes the neighborhoods in the southwest corner of the city: Linden Hills, Fulton, Armatage, Kenny, Lynnhurst, West Calhoun and the southern half of East Harriet.

Betsy Hodges has represented the ward since 2005, but she is not running again because she is instead campaigning to be mayor.

In front of a crowd of about 120 people at Washburn Library, candidates Matt Perry and Linea Palmisano debated several topics, including density, the airport’s proposed flight path changes, the Vikings stadium and transit.

Perry, an East Harriet resident who owns a small technical services company, touted his 10 years as an active citizen in the city, attending “over 500 community meetings in the last four years” and his business experience.

“I want to continue strong financial stewardship down at City Hall,” Perry said. “I want to build a more responsive, customer-focused city government through collaborative leadership and I want to promote smart growth to create a sustainable city while preserving the character of our neighborhoods.”

Palmisano, a Linden Hills resident and product development manager at United Health Group, championed her own community activity as former chair of her neighborhood association and founding of Southwest Pedal Power, a bicycle advocacy group.

“I’m running because I believe in public service,” she said. “I believe I have skills that can make this community an even better place.”

Here are some highlights: 

On where to add density in the Ward 13 and citywide:

Perry said he supports added density at 56th and Lyndale and also said he liked the senior housing development at 50th and Beard that recently broke ground.

“I think even though the built environment in Ward 13 does create some challenges, I think there are also opportunities to have higher density housing in Ward 13.”

In terms of citywide density, Perry said: “What I would like to do is change the way those (downtown) parking lots are taxed so that it’s not an incentive to keep a surface parking lot, but instead build a higher residential and mixed use development.”

Palmisano said the Linden Hills Small Area Plan will be great in setting rules for developers, but didn’t say specifically where density should be added in Southwest.

“I know that we need sustainable development. I know that we need development that fits in with the neighborhood and I know we need development that helps preserve the historic fabric of that neighborhood.”

Pamisano said she would like to see more development along the riverfront in North Minneapolis. 

On property taxes

Palmisano: “My priorities for property taxes for Ward 13 is to keep them stable, meaning no increase, or if needed, a small increase.”

She added: “We pay a very disproportionate amount of taxes that services the whole city. We know that. We sign up for that. We know that we could live a few miles in a few different directions and pay less than half of that in property taxes, but we choose to stay here, because we sign up for a vibrant city and we do believe in a strong urban core.”

Perry: “The property taxes we’ve seen over the last ten years are not economically sustainable. What I want to see is us get our fair share of Local Government Aid.”

On transit

Perry said he would like to see an enhanced bus route between 35W and the future Southwest LRT line. He also wants more car sharing programs and more bike lanes.

Palmisano said she wants the city to adopt a Complete Streets policy.

On the Vikings stadium

Both candidates said that if the stadium is legislation is re-opened by the Legislature, they would like the city to fight for a better deal.

On the proposed flight path consolidation at MSP airport

Perry: “I think all of us bought our homes or moved into our rental units knowing what the noise is that we were going to be dealing with …

“We understand the burden we have, but we don’t want to see additional burden, and what I have called for is that there be a full environmental impact study done on any changes to the consolidation of planes taking off.”

Palmisano: “I, too, support and will advocate for the environmental impact study to be done …

“Ultimately, I would hope that our flights going into the Minneapolis airport could be re-routed to other nearby airports like Duluth, St. Cloud and Rochester.”

On increased garbage burning at the Hennepin Energy Recovery Center

Palmisano said she would like to extend curbside composting from Linden Hills to the rest of the city.

“I also do not support the expansion of the HERC burner.”

Perry called for a full environmental review of the garbage burning expansion.

“I am not in favor of expanding the burner’s capacity.”