It was about early June when Dan Alvin realized there was no competition for the 10th Ward’s City Council seat.
Council Member Ralph Remington is leaving at the end of the year. Candidate Matt Filner ended his bid after he was beaten out by small-business owner Meg Tuthill for the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party’s endorsement. Nobody else had come forward since.
So Alvin decided to move ahead with something he’d thought about in 2005 but didn’t find the right timing for: join the race. Within weeks, Alvin, 35, was the Independence Party’s endorsed candidate for the 10th Ward.
While the lack of competition sparked his decision — had there been a Green Party candidate, he said he wouldn’t have run — don’t count him out as someone just there to give Tuthill an opponent.
“I want the job,” Alvin said.
He has a busy political background. Back in 1996, when he was living in Iowa, he actively worked to get presidential candidate Ralph Nader on the ballot. He’s been a national delegate for the Green Party. For almost two years, he managed a project to turn Beltrami County into a smoke-free environment, before the state enacted its own policy. Sometimes he volunteered 30 hours per week on top of his full-time job, Alvin said.
Yet he cites his business and personal backgrounds as more of a reason to consider him for the council.
The ward “is all driven by food and art and entertainment,” he said. “That’s what I’ve done my whole life.”
He’s a musician, and years back he ran a record label. He’s also a foodie of sorts. He’s been the executive chef of several high-profile natural foods restaurants, including Ecopolitan and Intelligent Nutrients. In 2008, he helped launch Café Agri. Currently, he works at South Lyndale Liquors to further develop his wine palate.
“Just to have that perspective in office I think is really exciting to people,” Alvin said.
As far as the issues of the ward are concerned, the treatment of small businesses is a top priority. Alvin said he believes micro-loans would provide an incentive for the local economy. Projects such as the controversial sort-of-proposed Trader Joe’s are out of the question to him, he said. He also would like to see a more neighborhood-driven police force. Citizen law enforcement, he said, would probably be more respectful than what he said has turned into an occasionally confrontational relationship.
ABOUT DAN ALVIN
Occupation: retail wine and beer, personal chef
Family: divorced, no children
Neighborhood: border of CARAG and East Harriet
Governmental/personal experience: former executive chef at restaurants including Cafe Agri, Ecopolitan; former small-business owner; former nonprofit program manager
Endorsements: Independence Party of Minnesota
Party: Independence Party