The votes hadn’t even been counted in a few Minneapolis precincts by the time Kendal Killian had launched a website and announced he was running for City Council in 2013.
Killian is one of three candidates who have already made it known they’re trying to unseat Meg Tuthill in Ward 10, even though the city election is a year away.
While the local 2012 elections might have been sleepy — no legislative race in Minneapolis was decided by less than a 53 percent margin — City Council races are looking like they’ll be hotly contested.
A few issues are sure to be central to 2013 elections: A large public subsidy for a Vikings stadium, rising property taxes, development and density as well as plenty of hot-button neighborhood issues.
That’s not to mention a potential monkey wrench that could disrupt all kinds of political planning. There’s lots of speculation among DFLers that Mayor R.T. Rybak, a tireless campaigner for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, could be in line for a job in the recently re-elected president’s administration. His departure could set off a special election and battle between council members (see sidebar).
In Ward 10, challengers have criticized Tuthill for her attempts to crack down on outdoor patios in an effort to quiet the noise that spilled into neighborhoods.
Tuthill, who said she is seeking re-election, defended her stance on outdoor patios and said “it’s terrific” that so many people in Ward 10 are running for City Council.
The former balloon shop owner said that her proposed patio legislation eventually led to bar owners making voluntary changes that have benefited the surrounding neighborhoods. Bars are paying for added police patrols on weekends, they’re urging their patrons to be mindful of neighbors and noise complaints to Tuthill’s office have disappeared.
“I think we’ve made some really positive changes and what we did was we got everybody to the table, and that was my goal from the beginning,” Tuthill said. “My goal was to get people to come to the table, and it worked.”
It’s unclear how much the Vikings stadium deal will play a role in Ward 10. Tuthill’s challengers haven’t made it central to their campaigns, and Tuthill says the ward was split 50-50 on the issue.
Killian is a 34-year-old lobbyist for Minnesota Association of Professional Employees. He lives in the East Harriet neighborhood with his wife, Kelly Beadle. Killian has been active in DFL-friendly political organizations such as Young Progressive Majority Minnesota, Outfront Minnesota and Health Care for All Minnesota.
“I want to run to build a progressive, next generation city. I want to build a city that fosters small businesses, encourages biking and transit and supports smart, thoughtful development,” Killian said in a telephone interview.
Killian did not take any shots at Tuthill and said he is not running against her stadium vote. He said he’s unsure how he would have voted on the deal.
Killian said he’d like more focus from the Council on opening up Nicollet Avenue at Kmart as well as investment in Eat Street.
Ken Bradley, 47, is the director of Environment Minnesota and helped out on the effort to pass the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment. He worked for Rybak’s first campaign in 2001 and considers the mayor a friend.
He used to be a stand-up comic and worked for Comedy Central. He’s lived in Minneapolis his entire adult life and owns a home in the CARAG neighborhood, near 31st & Dupont.
Bradley said he would make his council office a meeting place for stakeholders to talk about development in Ward 10, support bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, attract young entrepreneurs, and focus on clean and renewable energy.
“Yes, in part, Meg has her weaknesses, but that’s not the primary reason I’m running,” Bradley said. “I’m running because I believe I can provide a vision of a future Minneapolis and how to move forward, and I think I have the skill set at this point in my life to do some really good work.”
Bradley took issue with how Tuthill handled complaints over noise in Uptown when she proposed cutting outdoor seating for restaurants.
Bradley said he and his wife chose to live near the Uptown and Lyn-Lake scene knowing that it would mean a little more noise than other neighborhoods. They wanted to be close to the music and arts scene (he says the closing of the Uptown Bar was a great tragedy).
“I think we’re right in the heart of it,” he said. “I think some of the noise issues are legitimate, but we moved into this neighborhood because we wanted to be close to all these things, so we know what comes with it.”
Bradley said most of the noise issues stemmed from just two bars — the now-demolished Cowboy Slim’s and The Drink, which has changed its name to the Uptown Tavern.
“I think it is wrong to look at an entire industry and with the swoop of your hand say ‘we’re going to limit outdoor seating because a couple of restaurants and bars are breaking the existing laws and regulation,” he said.
Nate Griggs, 30, works as a combat advisor and social scientist in Afghanistan, a civilian job with the Army. He’ll be there until spring 2013, when he will move back to the Whittier neighborhood, he said in an email interview.
“I’m coming into this race as an outsider, slightly rough around the edges, and without a robust network of supporters who are indigenous to Ward 10,” he said. “I’m well aware of the steep learning curve ahead of me, so I’m entering this race in the learner’s posture — with my ego checked at the door — and with my eyes wide open.”
Griggs said he supports more outdoor patios and restaurants in the 10th Ward, and also wants to encourage microbreweries to locate in the area.
“I understand that this might lead to increased noise complaints, but cultivating a robust patio culture in our city is something that I strongly believe in — I’d expect the positives to outweigh the negatives,” he wrote.
Tuthill has also taken criticism from some who believe she was dismissive of a proposal to open a microbrewery on Hennepin Avenue South.
Killian and Bradley said that if the DFL endorses a different candidate, they will drop out of the race. Griggs is also seeking the endorsement, but said he’s unlikely to abide by it since he will be in Afghanistan when the endorsement takes place.
Tuthill, when asked if she would abide by the DFL endorsement — which she got in 2009 — wasn’t as direct.
“I can’t imagine not getting it,” she said. “I am going absolutely from the positive. I am not thinking of the negative. I can’t imagine not getting the DFL endorsement.”
Under the new city ward boundaries, Ward 10 in 2013 will include the neighborhoods of Whittier, Lowry Hill East, ECCO, CARAG and half of East Harriet.