WARD 7 CANDIDATE FORUM // voter’s guide 2009

On Oct. 26, two of the three people seeking the City Council’s Ward 7 seat — Michael Katch and Jeff Wagner — took part in a brief, 30-minute candidate forum. Incumbent Lisa Goodman didn’t attend because of a scheduling conflict. Here are some highlights from the evening.

On development and neighborhoods: Katch said the City Council should have less discretionary power over development approvals. He said there are too many buildings in the city that don’t conform to zoning codes. Small-area plans are good, he said — and they must be conformed to. Those plans are often a result of neighborhood input, which Katch said is important to note. He added that he would try to partner closely with neighborhoods, attend as many of theirs meetings as possible and stay for the whole time. Wagner said there seems to be a big disconnect between politicians and citizens. He said that, because of his experience with technology, he would be “the most connected politician in the history of this city.” Right now, “Minneapolis is out of fricking control,” he said.

On livability issues: Katch said alternative transportation is a big deal to him. He said he’s all for bicycle access, adding that he doesn’t think the new bike lanes on 1st Avenue, recently added during the street’s conversation to a two-way, are workable. He said he is asthmatic and therefore thinks it’s a big deal to crack down on such issues as idling vehicles. Wagner said he doesn’t understand why council members get a $400 per month allowance for cars when they’re also promoting alternative transportation.

On council member incomes: Katch said the about $75,000 council members earn annually is a bit steep, especially considering the economy. Wagner said the council could be shrunk to save money. Maybe have a council of seven rather than 13. If elected, he said he would donate 10 percent of his income to charity.

On what sets them apart from their opponents: When asked what makes him a unique candidate, Katch talked about his recovery from an accident and knowing what it’s like to need assistance and not always be in control. Wagner said he and Katch are similar souls. “I’ll tell you right now, you don’t have to vote for me,” Wagner said, later adding, “Hell, I’m probably going to vote for Katch.”