Fresh from state battles, Benson seeks second term

Current Ward 11 City Councilmember Scott Benson, known for his pragmatism and battles with the Metropolitan Airport Commission, and Gregg Iverson, a state Department of Transportation worker, are vying for the 11th Ward City Council seat.

Page neighborhood resident Benson has represented Ward 11 for four years. The ward straddles I-35W, and in Southwest, includes the Tangletown and Windom neighborhoods and the southern part of Kingfield.

Benson, who fellow Councilmember Paul Zerby (Ward 2) called "one of the most collegial and capable of my colleagues," is best-known for his work representing the city at the State Legislature, lobbying for more state aid to the city, against airport noise and for mass transit on I-35W and elsewhere.

Iverson, of the Wenonah neighborhood, said he's running for the seat because "I didn't feel any candidate should be unopposed. I waited and waited and thought that someone would stand forward."

When no one opposed Benson, Iverson filed.

According to Hennepin County's campaign finance records, Benson has raised $33,328.62 for his campaign. Iverson, who has not filed with the county's campaign finance division (required if he receives $100 or more) said he doesn't need money to run.

In keeping with a low-key approach, Iverson said he is not distributing any lawn signs.

Credentials

Before being elected in 2001, Benson worked as a trial lawyer, an adjunct law professor at Hamline University and formerly owned a beverage distribution company. He has a B.A. in political science from St. Olaf College and a law degree from George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

On the Council, he's chaired the Intergovernmental Relations (IGR) Committee, been ever-present in battles with the Metropolitan Airport Commision over home insulation and quieter airplanes, and lobbied for the city at the Capitol to reverse cuts to local government aid (LGA).

Zerby, who isn't running for re-election, said Benson is "very smart, very solid and very easy to work with." He said he admires Benson's demonstrated concern for the environment and thinks Benson has done a "great" job as chair of the IGR Committee.

Iverson is retiring form the Metro District Department of Transportation (DOT) in January, after 18 years or service. He's worked on environmental studies for metro highway projects.

He's a Vietnam veteran and also has a masters in education from the University of Minnesota. Before working for the DOT, he taught social studies at Anoka and Hennepin county schools.

Iverson has previously run to represent Ward 12 (before redistricting in 2001) against Councilmember Sandy Colvin Roy. In the late 1990s, he ran for the Secretary of State's office.

Most important issues

Benson said that his three most important campaign issues are fiscal responsibility, environmental issues - noise, water, air quality - and public safety.

He said public safety has especially suffered as a direct result of LGA cuts. He said he's "hopeful" that the state recognizes the impact of LGA cuts on the city and improves the future financial situation.

Iverson said his most important campaign issue is the impact of the airport on residents in Ward 11.

"Northwest Airlines is a poor neighbor," said Iverson. "If they lived next to you, you'd be calling the police often for noise and pollution."

An AFSCME union member, Iverson added that he stands by the strikers and thinks the airline, which days ago declared bankruptcy, is under bad management.