Greene, Mavity prevail in primary for County Commissioner

(Left) Marion Greene and Anne Mavity. Credit:

 

Marion Greene and Anne Mavity will face off in the May 13 special election for the Hennepin County commissioner seat formerly held by Gail Dorfman.

They were the top vote getters in the April 29 primary for Hennepin County Board District 3.

Greene, a former state legislator, secured 35.87 percent of the votes, while Mavity, a St. Louis Park City Council member, received 28.22 percent. A total of 6,265 votes were cast in the primary.

Hennepin County prosecutor Ben Schweigert followed with 24.96 percent. Former state Sen. Ken Kelash trailed behind with about 7 percent of the votes, Bob “Again” Carney Jr. had 2.5 percent and Bob Reuer about 1.4 percent.

Voter turnout was low — about 6 percent of eligible voters, said Brian Lieb, a Hennepin County spokesman. 

The winner of the May 13 election will serve the remainder of Dorfman’s term, which runs through the end of year, and face re-election in November. Dorfman left the County Board early March to take a job as executive director of St. Stephen’s Human Services. District 3 includes southwest Minneapolis neighborhoods and St. Louis Park. 

Dorfman endorsed Mavity a couple of days after the primary. They have worked together on affordable housing and homelessness issues for nearly 15 years. “I’m supporting Anne Mavity for County Commissioner because I know Anne is dedicated to promoting equity and opportunity for all. Anne Mavity will ensure that the voices of all members of our community are heard,” she said in statement. “Anne Mavity is the leader our community needs at Hennepin County.” 

Mavity led significantly among St. Louis Park voters, but Minneapolis voters outnumbered the suburban voters by a wide margin. There were 1,457 votes cast by St. Louis Park voters compared to 4,808 in Minneapolis. 

While Greene doesn’t have Dorfman’s support in the race, she does have the backing of Hennepin County Commissioner Linda Higgins (District 2), who represents portions of North Minneapolis, St. Anthony and western suburbs. 

“I am thrilled and honored to have earned the support of Southwest Minneapolis and St. Louis Park in the primary,” Greene said in a statement released after the primary. “We have a lot of momentum and I’ll work hard over the next two weeks to earn the votes of more of our neighbors. And I’ll work hard each and every day after that to leverage the enormous resources of Hennepin County to improve the lives of everyone in our region, and to deliver more opportunities for those with fewer.”

Schweigert commended other candidates in the race on his Facebook page. Here’s an excerpt: “Thank you to Anne Mavity, Marion Greene, and Ken Kelash for running such fantastic, positive campaigns. And congratulations to Anne and Marion as they move ahead to the May 13 election. Thank you especially to everyone who supported me in my campaign, for your countless hours, your boundless energy, and your faith in me.”

The Hennepin County Board oversees a $1.8 billion budget — second only to the state’s budget in terms of size among governmental entities in Minnesota. The board has seven commissioners and is chaired by Mike Opat.

While the commissioners have significant influence on regional transportation and social issues, they often face less public scrutiny and operate more under the radar than other local government officials. 

Top issues 

Greene and Mavity have both pledged to focus on equity if elected commissioner — the top issue raised by many of the candidates who ran in the recent city election as well.

When asked what sets them apart, they both pointed to respective roles they’ve held in various levels of government.

Greene, an Uptown resident served in the Minnesota House 2011 to 2013 — succeeding Margaret Anderson Kelliher as the representative for District 60A. Redistricting resulted in her facing reelection against state Rep. Frank Hornstein, who ultimately won the race. Hornstein, who had more years at the Capitol under his belt than Greene, has been a strong supporter of her race for County Board.

Greene said the primary results show she continues to have support from former constituents. The “scope of issues” she faced as a state legislator are unmatched by many other positions in government, she added.

She served as Mark Andrew’s communications director in the recent mayoral race and is active in many community causes, including serving on the boards of OutFront Minnesota and Minnesota United for All Families political action committee.

Greene also has a background in healthcare finance — an asset she said will serve her well if elected given the financial challenges facing the county-owned Hennepin County Medical Center.

She also has a passion for early childhood issues. She recently toured one of the county’s early learning centers and said she asked staff members what would the county could do better to improve outcomes for children. They told her the county’s services need to be better coordinated.

If elected she would work with the county’s existing “building blocks” and better align work to ensure the best results for children in need of an extra boost before they start school, she said. 

In a recent interview with the Southwest Journal she said early childhood programs are the “smartest place to invest.”

As for the controversial Southwest Light Rail Transit project, Greene said she would work to rebuild trust between constituents and the county if elected. “The plan laid out by the Met Council and the municipal consent process must be fulfilled with care, transparency, community input, and supported financially and politically to be successful,” she said.

Mavity also pointed to her track record as an elected official to demonstrate she’s up to the task to serve on the County Board.

In addition to serving on the St. Louis Park City Council, Mavity runs a consulting business that helps nonprofits, government entities and funders craft policies and manage projects.

She has also worked as a policy aide for Dorfman, an congressional aide in Washington D.C., and executive director of the Central Neighborhood Improvement Association.

Mavity has also stressed her ties to both Minneapolis and St. Louis Park on the campaign trail — an important strategy since Minneapolis voters outnumbered St. Louis Park voters in the recent primary.

She grew up in Minneapolis and attended Washburn High School.

“I have a foot in both Minneapolis and St. Louis Park,” she said.

In a recent Southwest Journal interview, she said she would evaluate the county’s budget, program and policies through an “equity lens.”

If elected her top priorities would include advocating for sustainable communities, championing efforts to end and prevent homelessness and creating a world-class multimodal transportation system.

As for the contentious SWLRT project, she supports moving forward with the route recently approved by the Metropolitan Council and hopes Minneapolis and other cities along the line work with the Council to ensure specific concerns are addressed.