WARD 10 CANDIDATE FORUM // voter’s guide 2009

On Oct. 15, all four candidates seeking the 10th Ward City Council seat — Dan Alvin, Matt Dowgwillo, Meg Tuthill and Kim Vlaisavljevich — took part in a candidate forum. Here are some highlights:

On the Midtown Greenway Rezoning Study: The city is in the process of considering about 1,500 parcels’ worth of zoning changes. Although a timeline isn’t definite, the rezonings could be approved within months, something most of the candidates said they were not comfortable with. Vlaisavljevich said it seems there hasn’t been enough public input. The changes, although based on previously approved city plans, went from being unveiled to public hearings fairly quickly — so fast that Vlaisavljevich’s impression is that communities appear to be having to fight for their homes. Tuthill said that for being so complicated, the rezonings are being pushed through too fast. Alvin agreed things are moving too fast, although adding that some of the areas in the study are ripe for rezoning. Dowgwillo said he’d support more time for public hearings if that were what the community wanted but added that he supports the proposed rezonings. “I think it’s getting the area cleaned up,” he said.

On getting light rail in Uptown: Decision-makers on several government levels seem to not be favoring a light-rail line through Uptown, which frustrated the candidates. “We’re kind of stuck with what we have,” Tuthill said. Dowgwillo said it would be great to have a line come through Uptown, but if it doesn’t, bike paths should be routed to the closest light-rail stops. Alvin and Tuthill both said they supported the idea of a trolley line through Uptown.

On incorporating bicycles: Vlaisavljevich said strategic planning would have to be done to support more bicycle traffic. Alvin said he’d work with foundations to try to get more bike racks around the city. Tuthill said business and developers should get incentives for installing bike racks. Dowgwillo said there should be more bike lanes on non-main roads. He also agreed that more bike racks should be installed.

On development in Uptown: Tuthill expressed concerns about the balance between entertainment and non-entertainment establishments in Uptown. If it were to become too entertainment-driven, it could end up driving residents away. Vlaisavljevich said there should be a deliberate effort to prevent gentrification, as well as a plan to keep people in the area beyond just happy hour. Alvin said the No. 1 reason he’s running is to retain the cultures of neighborhoods. That means getting neighborhood groups involved in decisions on future developments. Dowgwillo said development has its good sides, safety being one of them. But Uptown’s cool and artsy culture needs to be retained. “I think it’s slowly turning more fancy, for lack of a better term,” Dowgwillo said.

On property taxes: None of the candidates said they would want additional 8 percent or more annual property tax increases. “They aren’t sustainable,” said Tuthill, who said it’s the top issue she’s heard from citizens during her campaign. Vlaisavljevich said more of those increases won’t help the city any because they’d lead to people moving away. “It’s a short-term sol— I wouldn’t even call it a solution,” Alvin said. Vlaisavljevich, an accountant by trade, said she’d start by making process improvements — exactly what she does when working with $400 million portfolios. Tuthill said there are small changes the city can make that could add up to big savings, such as merging public relations offices and cut down on duplication of services. Alvin said the city needs to eliminate waste and get rid of excesses. Dowgwillo agreed with the small-change solutions argument. He added that the city should be run more like a business.

On local-government aid (LGA): Each of the candidates said the state-fed source of money has been too unstable to still be applied to basic city services. Alvin said the city should be self-sufficient without LGA. Vlaisavljevich said it should be seen as the gravy on top of what the city spends. Dowgwillo and Tuthill both said the money should be used for specific projects. “It fluctuates too much,” Tuthill said.

On the proposed changes to the Park Board and Board of Estimate and Taxation: Each of the candidates expressed support for the status quo. They all mentioned the importance of retaining the Taxation Board’s oversight, and they said the current form of the Park Board is a big reason for Minneapolis’ quality green space.