Senate District 62 voter’s guide: Upset victor Omar Fateh faces Bruce Lundeen in general

Senate District 62

The Southwest Journal’s voter’s guide includes stories on the three competitive races for the Minneapolis School Board and questionnaires with candidates running for the U.S. House and the state House and Senate. We also include a rundown of everything you’ll see on your ballot, including an explanation of the city’s two referendums. You can read our full 2020 voter’s guide here.

After defeating longtime incumbent Jeff Hayden in the DFL primary, democratic socialist Omar Fateh looks to bring a progressive voice to the state Legislature.

His opponent, Republican Bruce Lundeen, is a perennial candidate in the district.

District 62

Omar Fateh
Omar Fateh

DFL: Omar Fateh

Occupation: Business analyst

Endorsements: Twin Cities Democratic Socialists of America, Black Lives Matter of St. Paul, Our Revolution, Hennepin County Commissioner Angela Conley

Money raised/cash on hand: $48,707 (Jan. 1 2019-July 20, 2020)/$1,768 (as of July 20)

Qualifications and top priorities: I’m a democratic socialist community activist. Senate District 62, South Minneapolis, is one of the poorest, most diverse, most progressive districts in the state. I won my primary because the people here are tired of business as usual at the Senate. They are fed up and seek political change at every level.

Police reform and public safety: We must defeat the disproven idea that public safety can be purchased by investing more money in highly militarized police. George Floyd was murdered in our district. The current system killed him and caused massive unrest, which damaged many of our small community businesses. The current system of public safety doesn’t work for us. We must divest from police and reinvest in communities, addressing the underlying problems that cause us to feel unsafe such as houselessness, poverty and unemployment.

Affordable housing and homelessness: Housing is a human right. We need to create a system that guarantees housing for all. I believe in expanding funding for mixed income and alternative housing models such as housing cooperatives and land trusts. Right now, affordability is determined based on the area median income. Minneapolis residents who are being asked to pay $1,200 for a studio know that this is not affordable. We need to make sure that working families can find housing based on their ability to pay, not based on AMI.

Systemic racial inequalities: There is no silver bullet for ending systemic racism in our state. As senator, I will work to dismantle economic barriers that disproportionately impact communities of color by working towards health care and housing for all, increasing wages and labor rights and guaranteeing high-quality, equal public schools, which is our constitutional obligation as a legislature. We must also address a system of public safety and criminal justice that is killing and jailing our BIPOC youth. I will work towards ending mass incarceration especially through clemency for addiction-related offenses, eliminating cash bail and envisioning a system of public safety that builds community instead of destroying lives.

Bruce Lundeen
Bruce Lundeen

GOP: Bruce Lundeen

Occupation: Businessman

Money raised/ cash on hand: No data available

Qualifications and top priorities: I have enjoyed and suffered through an extremely broad range of life experiences. I have been poor and made good money, been homeless and owned a house, had jobs from which I have been fired and immediately hired somewhere else, and I have made it working on my own.

Minneapolis is a mess. Minneapolis has had liberal leadership for 60 years. It is time for change. I am a conservative and believe it is time for a shift away from proven unworkable liberal and leftist public policies.

My interests would be government data practices, creating jobs for Minnesotans and racial disparities.

Police reform and public safety: Disbanding or defunding the Minneapolis Police Department is a fool’s errand. The police problem is a leadership problem. Reformation of the New York City Police Department (about 36,000 officers!) has proven the effectiveness in addressing police misconduct through leadership improvements. It is not the chief, not the mayor or City Council, and most certainly not some Office of Police Conduct Review bureaucracy, that will create police accountability. It is the sergeants and lieutenants that set the behavioral, moral and professional standards of the service. Had Tou Thao been a sergeant, the George Floyd incident would not have been the tragedy it became.

Affordable housing and homelessness: It seems to me that the many panhandlers are too far gone to care for themselves. They may lack the hygienic practices, have personality disorders or chemical dependencies, and other problems that make them incapable of caring for themselves. It is not humane to allow them to remain on the streets. Institutionalizing may be an alternative.

On the other hand, the people “urban camping” in the Minneapolis parks need jobs. Those who cannot hold down jobs fall perilously close to the those of the first paragraph.

The state and city governments must create employment opportunities for all who can work.

Systemic racial inequalities: Disliking and even sabotaging the life of someone different than one’s self is an unfortunate human characteristic. This is to say there is no complete solution to the problems of racial prejudice. People prefer people who think and have cultural backgrounds like themselves.

The need is to encourage the growth of successful working-class people in minority communities. Only after members of a minority have achieved prestige and respect from their peers will inequalities go away. Barriers to success must be removed.

There are many more successful minority-members than there were a few years ago, and there are more every day.