Lisa Bender won’t seek reelection

Lisa Bender
Lisa Bender

Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender will not seek a third term in office, she announced in an email to supporters on Nov. 8.

Bender, who represents five Uptown-area neighborhoods on the 13-member council, was first elected in 2013 and became council president in 2018.

Her note to supporters didn’t give a reason for not seeking a third term. She wrote that she made the decision “well before multiple crises hit our city.”

Bender, a former city planner and founder of the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition, defeated incumbent Meg Tuthill in her 2013 election.

Her email noted accomplishments such as passage of the Minneapolis 2040 plan that ended single-family zoning requirements, inclusionary zoning and an ordinance that provides protections to renters.

Bender was a leading voice in spearheading the controversial 2040 plan, which sought
to address the affordable housing crisis by rezoning most of the city for increased density and allowing triplexes in single-family neighborhoods.

She also was an advocate for bike lanes and led efforts to reduce and eliminate parking minimums near bus and light rail lines and to legalize accessory dwelling units.

South Uptown Neighborhood Association president Max Ellis said she is saddened by the news that Bender will be departing the council.

She said that Bender and her staff have graciously given their time, noting their atten- dance at neighborhood association meetings, and that there was always open communication between the association and Bender.

“It’s always been an open dialogue,” she said.

In recent months, Bender has been criticized for supporting a pledge to defund the Minneapolis Police Department in the wake of the killing of George Floyd and she has become the target of many residents’ anger over a pattern of increased violent crime in Southwest. While the council continues to work on efforts to reimagine public safety in Minneapolis, Bender has expressed regrets about the effect of the pledge, telling the New York Times that it “created confusion in the community and in our wards.”

In her statement, Bender said she has learned a lot about “people, power and about how systems work to support or stop change.” She thanked her family and volunteers and said more work must happen to reduce racial disparities, meet greenhouse gas-reduction goals and build systems of safety that work for everyone.