Erica Mauter joins Ward 11 race

Nonprofit executive is the second to challenge incumbent John Quincy

Ward 11 City Council candidate Erica Mauter lives in Tangletown. Submitted photo

Erica Mauter, a Tangletown resident who serves as the executive director of the Twin Cities Women’s Choir and Twin Cities Girl’s Choir, announced in December her plan to seek John Quincy’s Ward 11 seat on the City Council.

Mauter said she decided to join what is now a three-person race in Ward 11 because she saw the council as the path “to continue to advocate for the positive change I want to see.”

“Given the national election we just had, cities are more important than ever, given their impact on our daily lives,” she said. “It is important to me that Minneapolis is a sanctuary in every sense of the word, and I would like to focus my energy on making that the case.”

Mauter said her leadership role at the two choirs has given her experience in the nuts and bolts of running an organization. Her job also involves communication, community-building and setting a vision for her nonprofit, developing skills in her that she would bring to the council.

“In my previous life, I was an engineer at a drug company,” she continued. “That was all about very pragmatic, practical analysis and decision-making, and that is very much how I view policy-making.

“I think that combination of both the leadership and also the pragmatism is what I would bring to this role.”

Mauter said ensuring Minneapolis is “accessible and affordable for all its residents” was her top priority. That means narrowing disparities and finding ways to add or maintain affordable housing as gentrification transforms neighborhoods.

Her push for accessibility would also focus on improving the way the city interacts with residents and business owners on everything from garbage service and snow removal to permitting. Another aspect to accessibility, she added, is transparency in government, including the city budgeting process.

Mauter also supports policies that were originally part of the Minneapolis Working Families Agenda but have yet to come to fruition, including a $15 citywide minimum wage and a fair scheduling ordinance.

Mauter is Quincy’s second challenger after Jeremy Schroeder, who also works in a leadership position at a local nonprofit. Schroeder, who lives across Interstate-35W in the Diamond Lake neighborhood, is policy director for Minnesota Housing Partnership.

A member of Quincy’s staff confirmed earlier in December that he plans to seek a third term in office, following his election in 2009 and re-election in 2013. Both his challengers are making their first attempts to win elective office.

Asked why she believes Ward 11 needs a change in leadership, Mauter said “the incumbent has been good enough so far,” but a rapidly changing national political environment needs a different kind of council member. She said “keeping our cities safe and functional” requires “proactive” leadership.

“‘Proactive’ means to me, if I support the $15 minimum wage, I am out talking to all the stakeholders that are involved in that,” she said. “I am actively engaging my constituents in that conversation. I am letting my constituents know what work I am doing on that front.”

Asked about political role models, Mauter named two women DFLers at the state Capitol: Rep. Peggy Flanagan of St. Louis Park, a former Minneapolis Board of Education member who won her seat in 2015, and Ilhan Omar, the representative-elect from Minneapolis who is the country’s first Somali-American elected to a state legislature. Mauter worked on Omar’s campaign and said she admired her positivity and her dedication to all the members of her diverse constituency, which includes both a large East African immigrant population and University of Minnesota students.

“As I think about what I want for Minneapolis going forward, the demographics of the country and the demographics of our city are changing, and I think it’s incredibly important for our leadership to reflect that,” she said. “… I look forward to living in a Minneapolis where the leadership reflects the constituency.”