New 8th Ward flooded with candidates

At least five DFLers are competing to fill the vacant 8th Ward City Council seat.

In alphabetical order, they are:

– Titlayo "Titi" Bediako, 49, a Central neighborhood resident and the founder and executive director of the WE WIN Institute, which runs a rights-of-passage class and Kwanza appreciation classes to boost students’ self-esteem, especially for low-achieving African American students.

– Elizabeth Glidden, 36, Kingfield neighborhood, a civil rights attorney representing plaintiffs, primarily on employment cases.

– Marie Hauser, 57, Central neighborhood, a Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Commissioner and children’s mental health nurse.

– Jeff Hayden, 38, Bryant neighborhood, a housing coordinator for the Minnesota Supportive Housing Consortium, helping Section 8 voucher holders to find and maintain good, safe housing, and former aide to Councilmember Gary Schiff (9th Ward).

– Dennis Tifft, 45, president of the Bryant Neighborhood Association and business service trainer for the Park Nicollet Clinic.

Councilmember Robert Lilligren of the Phillips neighborhood now represents the 8th Ward, but redistricting put him in the new 6th Ward. The new 8th includes most of Southwest’s Kingfield neighborhood and several east-of-35W neighborhoods.

Loyal DFLers have a little more than a month to get to know the hopefuls. In a change this year, the party will hold

city-level precinct caucuses March 1, electing ward convention delegates who will make party endorsements.

(In previous years, delegates picked during the prior year’s presidential election made the endorsements.)

Candidates do not file officially until July 5-19. Candidates choosing to challenge the endorsement could run in the Sept. 13 primary election. The general election is Nov. 8.

They are running to serve on a Council that has no new money to spend and faces future cuts in core city services – the result of the library referendum, state aid cuts and past debts coming due.

Key issues will be how many cops the strained budget can pay for, Lake Street’s repaving and the contentious I-35W Access Project that will reconfigure ramps throughout Kingfield.

The Kingfield Neighborhood Association opposes the Access Project, but many of Ward 8’s east-of-the-highway neighborhood groups support it.

‘Titi’ Bediako

Bediako is single with two children, a daughter in college and a son, 16. She is the daughter of Matthew Little, a longtime civil rights leader and past NAACP president, she said. She announced Jan. 20.

She works with 250-300 kids a year through WE WIN, Bediako said. The program works to overcome negative media images of African American people and focus on their accomplishments. Her campaign would look for ways to bring people together.

Bediako talked about the importance of the I-35W Access Project to the ward but did not stake out a position, focusing instead on the process.

"I will have precinct meetings," she said. "To be a good Councilperson, I have to listen to what people have to say and integrate it."

Elizabeth Glidden

Glidden is married (Eric Pusey) and has a masters in public affairs from the Humphrey Institute (2004), she said.

She is a partner in Hedin, Goldberg & Glidden. Her legal work gives her experience in negotiating and advocating for working people, she said. She has worked with the Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights, the Somali Women’s Association and Interfaith Center for Worker Justice.

Glidden praised the current Council’s five-year business plans, and said it needs to do more long-term planning. In particular, she pointed to the city’s still-developing transportation plan. It needed to "focus on things other than just expanding our roads," she said, and to include more public transit and bike lanes.

Glidden also is a board member of the Hennepin History Museum.

Marie Hauser

Hauser is married (Joseph) and they have three grown children. Working for three decades as a children’s mental health nurse and helping families in crisis "has taught me how to listen to people and be responsive to people’s needs," she said.

She is the only candidate who has held public office. During her Park Board tenure, she has sided with the Board majority to buy its new riverfront headquarters and hire Jon Gurban as the new superintendent. Her Board experience taught her about balancing budgets, she said.

Hauser wants to increase city spending on police and fire services but did not yet have a plan to pay for them. She said: "It would have to be one of those things I would have to get in there and figure out."

She would work to protect current Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP) funding, she said.

Jeff Hayden

Hayden is married (Terri) and has two children, 3 and 8.

He was a founding member of the City of Lakes Community Land Trust, an effort to increase affordable housing, he said. He is the former chair of the Powderhorn Park Neighborhood Association and now vice chair of the Bryant Neighborhood Association. He is on the board of the Minnesota Renaissance Initiative, an organization aimed at encouraging African American entrepreneurs.

Public Safety was his top priority, he said. He supported a proposal to allow neighborhoods to use NRP dollars to get more cops on the street – but with more accountability on how the money is spent. He, too, argued the city would have to lobby the state for more money.

Dennis Tifft

Tifft has a 20-year partner (Steven). If elected, Tifft said his first priority would be to improve constituent services. He would open a satellite office in the ward to be more accessible, he said. His work at Park-Nicollet gave him a strong background in customer service and he would promptly return phone calls, e-mails and inquiries.

His slogan: "Get a lift with Tifft."

He praised the budget watchdog work of outgoing Councilmember Barret Lane (13th Ward). Tifft said he would focus on improving basic city services: police, fire and public works.

He would help build 8th Ward block clubs and work to restore cuts to the CCP/SAFE program, he said. However, he did not have specific ideas on how the city would pay for it. He suggested the state (which faces a budget problem of its own) should help.