BOARD OF ESTIMATE AND TAXATION // voter’s guide 2009

The six-member Board of Estimate and Taxation sets levy limits for the city and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. The mayor, two City Council members and a Park Board commissioner sit on the board, as well as two members who are elected at large.

Carol Becker: Becker is the finance director of the Humphrey Institute and has 15 years of Minneapolis budget books at her house. She’s been a passionate, vocal supporter of keeping the board’s structure as is and is the only incumbent seeking reelection to the board.

Michael Martens: Martens, a commercial mortgage broker, has more than 20 years of experience in accounting and finance. He feels strongly that the board’s independent audit function be retained, and he would prefer for the November referendum to fail.

James Elliot Swartwood: The publisher of free newspaper the Watchdog would look for waste in government and try to keep property tax increases low. Low taxes are necessary for the city to solve its financial problems, he says on the website of his political party, the New Dignity Party.

DeWayne Townsend: Townsend’s background includes being the sometimes treasurer of the Longfellow Community Council, taking part in the city’s Capital Long-range Improvement Committee process and writing grants. He wants to retain the current board structure.

David Wheeler: Wheeler, a former member of Duluth’s City Council, sees the board as an important player in sound financial planning, transparency and accountability. He is endorsed by Mayor R.T. Rybak — who supports the referendum — but Wheeler said he will vote "no." However, he says, "the world won’t end if the Board of Estimate and Taxation goes away."

Phil Willkie: Willkie’s campaign has partly been about getting the word out on the existence of the board, but if elected, he says he would use his position for watchdog purposes. He considers the referendum a bad idea because the board plays an important intermediary role.

A forum featuring four of the above candidates was held Oct. 26. Click here for an overview of candidate responses.