Eighth Ward field now has eight candidates

The already-crowded 8th Ward City Council race is getting more so.

Reginald Birts, 41, a Wells Fargo mortgage consultant, said he is seeking the Green Party endorsement for the seat, which covers 60 percent of Southwest’s Kingfield neighborhood. Don Bellfield, 56, a senior human resource generalist with the Metropolitan Council, said he would likely seek the Republican Party’s backing. Terry Yzaguirre, 45, a technical manager with Agristar Global Network, said she is running as a "small i" independent.

The 8th ward race is attracting interest because redistricting made it an open seat, shifting incumbent Robert Lilligren into the 6th Ward.

DFL candidates so far are: Titlayo "Titi" Bediako, founder and executive director of the WE WIN Institute, which assists elementary and secondary students; Elizabeth Glidden, a civil rights attorney; Marie Hauser, current Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board member; Jeff Hayden, a supportive housing coordinator and former Council aide; and Dennis Tifft, a business services trainer for Park Nicollet Clinic.

Bellfield, a Kingfield resident with four grown children, said he became tired of DFL candidates who made pitches in his living room.

"All of them said the same thing – whoever gets the DFL endorsement is going to be your state representative or your City Councilperson," he said. "That kind of bothered me. It was like the election was over."

Bellfield has a Mankato State Urban Studies degree and took Humphrey Institute leadership classes, he said. He characterizes himself as a moderate, pro-choice Republican. He said he wants to build a bridge between Minneapolis’ "DFL island" and the rest of the state.

He said he would support a stronger mayoral system in the city. The Council should set policies, and the mayor and city manager should run the city.

Birts counts neighborhood safety among his priorities. (He noted that he was robbed recently on Lake Street. Three men stole his wallet and cell phone.)

Birts has a B.A. in sociology from the University of Minnesota, he said. He served seven-plus years in the Air Force Reserves and one year active duty. He was a Hennepin County probation and parole officer, and before that, worked as a school custodian. He is divorced with two kids, 10 and 14.

He said he has worked on several campaigns, including Vicky Brock’s 2001 8th Ward Council race.

Birts, who is African American, said city leadership needs more people of color. He stressed the importance of working with programs such as Hennepin County’s African American Men’s Project and finding alternatives for young men in the crime-prone age group.

Birts would work on job creation, saying he has "promises from 8th Ward developers who are willing to do some different things to provide specific jobs."

He declined to name the developers.

Yzaguirre said she had lived in Powderhorn since 1967. While she has served on her neighborhood board, "I have basically fought the battles privately in our neighborhood as they have needed to be fought."

She said she has no political background and is not seeking endorsements. "I don’t think the City Council should designated toward a party," she said. "It should serve the whole community."

Yzaguirre describes herself as Irish-Mexican. She has three kids, 14-year-old twins and a 19-year-old. She said she has a certificate in radio and TV broadcasting.

She, like Birts, talked about creating safe communities and economic growth.

During the 1990s, three apartment buildings on the 3500 block of 12th Avenue South had drug-related problems and lots of police calls, Yzaguirre said. She called the owners to complain and ended up as the caretaker.

"I came out of the woodwork and cleaned them up," she said. "If I can take care of my neighborhood, I can take care of the whole 8th Ward."