Longtime Southwest resident, business owner and community activist Meg Tuthill received a major endorsement Saturday, possibly clearing the way for a successful run for the 10th Ward City Council seat. Her biggest challenger coming into the weekend, though, also might continue on.
With a 62.2 percent vote, Tuthill won what was the most-contested race for a Demoratic-Farmer-Labor Party endorsement in Southwest this year, pitting her four decades of living and working in the area against the political connections of Matt Filner, state director of the Progressive Majority.
On Saturday, Tuthill again touted her deep roots and early support of recycling, community activism and neighborhood groups.
“I don’t only live here, I work here,” said Tuthill, who has owned and operated Tuthill’s Balloon Emporium at 25th & Hennepin for 30 years.
It took two rounds of voting for her endorsement to become official, although it was clear where majority support was after the first round. To win, a candidate needed 60 percent of the vote; Tuthill immediately had 58.2 percent. Filner received just 39.2 percent.
While accepting the endorsement, Tuthill said she’d become a fan of her challenger, if not for the 10th Ward seat.
“Matt is a fine young man, a bright young man,” she said. “I can see voting for Matt, certainly on the state level.”
Coming into the convention, Filner had a longer list of well-known endorsements than Tuthill. But it consisted largely of non-10th Ward people, such as state Rep. Frank Hornstein, Mayor R.T. Rybak and three current City Council members. Filner said that’s a sign he’d be able to work well with colleagues if elected, but a question-and-answer session showed those endorsements wouldn’t put him over the top. Instead, they raised concerns that he’d eventually seek higher office.
“This is not a place to go if you want a stepping stone,” Filner said, trying to squelch those worries.
Tuthill weighed in, too, saying she didn’t have the endorsements of other public officials because she didn’t seek them out — and because, ultimately, they wouldn’t matter.
“This decision is to be made by you, not by people outside of the ward,” she said to loud applause.
Filner previously told the Southwest Journal he would honor the party endorsement and end his bid without it. After the convention, though, he said he wasn’t so sure.
“There’s no question that the delegate pool only represented a small slice of the kinds of people who live in Ward 10,” Filner said. “For an extremely diverse ward, it was an extremely non-diverse convention.”
He said he had expected there to be more than 400 delegates at the convention; only 195 voted. Before making a decision on his future, he said he needs time to figure out exactly how represented he really is in the ward.
“We live in a city that’s really only got one significant party, and so people from all political stripes, not just progressive Democrats, participate in the DFL process, or they can participate in the DFL process. I think what was reflected Saturday was a very narrow part of the DFL,” Filner said.
The eventual winner in the Nov. 3 election will replace current Council Member Ralph Remington, who will vacate his seat after one term.