The race for the Uptown-area Ward 10 City Council seat is among the most competitive races in the city.
The frontrunners are incumbent City Council Member Meg Tuthill, a 40-year Minneapolis resident and former small business owner, and Lisa Bender, a newcomer to Minneapolis politics who founded the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition.
Bender secured the DFL endorsement in April — beating Tuthill and two other candidates Kendal Killian and Ken Bradley who also sought the party’s backing.
Tuthill, who has served one term on the Council, decided to resume her campaign after the endorsing convention. Killian and Bradley dropped out of the race.
Scott Hargarten, a member of the Minnesota Pirate Party, is also running for Ward 10. The party advocates for “liquid democracy,” which has members propose and vote on pilot projects to be carried out by members it elects to office, according to its website.
Nate Griggs will also be listed on the ballot even though he recently suspended his campaign because he has accepted a new job outside of Minneapolis. Griggs’ name will appear on the ballot because he didn’t formally end his campaign by the city’s candidate withdrawal deadline.
Tuthill has positioned herself as someone with strong leadership skills and argues the ward needs stability, noting a new person has been elected to the seat for the past three election cycles.
Bender, meanwhile, argues she’ll be a more inclusive and proactive leader on the City Council. “We need a Council Member with an open door and an open mind to new ideas,” she said.
The new Ward 10 includes Whittier, Lowry Hill East (the Wedge), East Calhoun, CARAG, East Calhoun and East Harriet.
Here are highlights of a debate organized by several Ward 10 neighborhood groups at Bryant Square Park last night. It was moderated by the League of Women Voters of Minneapolis. (To listen to audio of the debate, click here.)
Responses when asked about how they would work to be an inclusive Council member and engage with residents:
Bender noted that the ward is incredibly diverse and 70 percent renters. It also has a high rate of political involvement. She said she would work to provide services to allow “seniors to age in place.”
She would also work to provide more housing options given the tight rental market and find ways to engage people who don’t typically attend neighborhood meetings. Bender said newcomers need to be just as valued as people who have lived in the ward for a long time.
Hargarten said his “personal vision is a politics based on community building.” He would hold regular forums to allow community members to share ideas and discuss priorities.
“I want to create a culture of listening and respect,” he said, adding he wants to “open up the doors that separate people based on race and class.”
Tuthill said the area’s diversity drew her to the area four decades ago. She said she’s a regular at neighborhood meetings and community events and gives our her home phone number.
“This is a not a 9 to 5 job,” she said.
On strategies for improving public safety:
Hargarten said it’s not about the number of police officers on the streets. It’s more important to have an engaged community that trusts the police department. He said closeknit neighborhoods are also critical to safe streets.
Tuthill said she’s an advocate of community policing and bike cops. “I love getting these folks out of their cars,” she said.
She said design also plays an important role in public safety. “Landscaping is really important,” she said. “We don’t need to places for people to hide.”
She also said it’s important for the city to prepare for a wave of police officer retirements in coming years and make sure the fire department is adequately staffed to ensure fast response times.
Bender also said the city needs to have a proactive plan to prepare for police officer retirements.
She also said she wants to see the department become more diverse to better reflect the changing demographics of Minneapolis.
If elected, she would also advocate for a stronger civilian oversight of the department.
Bender is also supportive of putting cameras on officers — an idea that was recently pitched by three City Council members, including mayoral candidate Betsy Hodges.
On whether they would support the Southwest Light Rail project if there is co-location with freight rail in the Kenilworth Corridor:
Tuthill said no, adding the City Council has been clear on this issue from the beginning of planning work on the LRT line. She said she has reservations about the shallow tunnel option and potential costs.
She said it’s important to leave the recreational bike trail preserved for future generations.
Bender also said no. She said it’s important to move forward on a building a stronger regional transit system, but said leaders need to come together to find a solution that works for everyone. She said she’s worried about the environmental impact of the shallow tunnel proposed for the Kenilworth Corridor.
Hargarten said he didn’t have a “firm opinion” on the issue.
On how they would handle disputes between residents and developers/business interests:
Hargarten said it depends on the nature of the dispute. He added that the deck is often stacked in favor of large economic institutions that wield a lot of political power.
Tuthill said: “I’ve done this.” She cited her work on the Uptown patio noise issue. She said her work to bring businesses and residents together on the issue brought back balance to the neighborhood.
She said two extra officers were assigned to Uptown to improve public safety. Restaurants and bars also paid for a sound engineer to monitor noise levels.
Bender said it’s important to not lump all businesses into a monolithic category. She said she would be proactive about getting in front of situations with developers and businesses before things turn into disputes. Maintaining a collaborative tone is key, she said.
On ideal visions for the Kmart site on Nicollet:
Bender said she would bring people in the ward together to discuss visions for the site. “The more you let people talk, the more you have a shared vision,” she said.
She added it’s a crucial to have a conversation about what happens to Nicollet near the site.
Hargarten said “he’s not an architect” and “has no idea” what his vision is for the site. He would work to advance the collective interests of the community.
“My only job is to listen,” he said.
Tuthill said many ideas for the Kmart site have been floated. Whittier leaders have discussed senior housing, the city is exploring the possibility of a mixed-use development and some advocate for a smaller scale Kmart.
One of the key parts of the deal is to get the site’s private owners to sell Nicollet back to the city.
She urged people to get on social media and share their ideas for the parcel.
On their views about “smart density” in the ward:
Tuthill said: “Density is not new in the 10th Ward.”
She said it needs to be encouraged where it “makes sense,” such as along commercial corridors with access to transit.
“We can do density in neighborhoods carefully,” she said, adding its important for developments to be pedestrian oriented.
She’s also excited about new transit options like the Car2Go car-sharing service that is making it easier for people in the ward to give up their own cars.
Hargarten said he’s not an expert on smart density, but believes its important neighborhoods don’t lose their unique spirits.
Bender said “smart density is development that contributes to our neighborhoods.”
She said city leaders should set the bar higher for developers to make sure the type of housing developed meets market demand.
Bender is also supportive of the Planning Commission’s recent decision to allow for smaller housing units. “People are living alone for longer periods of time,” she said.