Running for sixth term, Goodman says “experience matters”

The Ward 7 incumbent faces three challengers in November

Goodman. Submitted photo

Lisa Goodman is tied for longest tenure on the City Council, and while her three opponents say it’s time for change, the incumbent is leaning on her longevity as she asks voters to return her for a sixth term in office.

“One of the reasons that I believe that I’m the best person to represent the 7th Ward on the City Council is experience matters,” Goodman said during a mid-September interview.

Goodman prides herself on constituent service, and it has paid off at the ballot box. She took 68 percent of the vote in 2009 and more than 80 percent in two previous elections. She ran unopposed in 2013.

This year, she’s facing three challengers and maybe her steepest re-election climb yet. They include Republican Joe Kovacs, a downtown resident who works as a training specialist for a software company, and DFLer Teqen Zéa-Aida, co-founder of a local modeling agency and a gallerist who lives in Loring Park.

Janne Flisrand, a consultant and Lowry Hill property owners, vied with Goodman for the DFL endorsement this spring, before Zéa-Aida entered the race. No endorsement was awarded because delegates split between Flisrand and Goodman.

When discussing access affordable housing, one of the hottest issues of the election cycle, Goodman turns to her long legislative record. She founded the city’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund, co-authored the city’s Section 8 anti-discrimination ordinance and has proposed another ordinance that would require apartment owners to give the city advance notice of a potential sale, opening an opportunity for the city to step in and preserve affordable units.

Goodman said property tax hikes driving up rents was “one of the bigger issues” in the affordable housing shortage. She said she had asked city staff to study one potential solution to that issue.

Affordable housing projects built with government subsidies through the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program are also taxed at a lower rate. Goodman proposed extending that property tax break to the owners of so-called naturally occurring affordable housing — buildings where rents have fallen below market rate over time — who, in return, would agree to charge the same below market rate rents as LIHTC projects.

“This is a real, tangible, potential solution to the naturally occurring affordable housing issue without having to get involved with buying up every building, which we don’t have the resources to buy, but making it easier for those owners to keep their rents low and rewarding them by lowering their … tax rate,” Goodman said.

Flisrand, who has extensive contacts with housing programs through her consultancy and was program manager for Minnesota Green Communities, an energy-efficiency initiative targeted to affordable housing, said the city needs to dedicate more resources to “aggressively” preserving naturally occurring affordable housing. She would explore inclusionary zoning policies that require affordable units in new developments, and has also proposed zoning code changes to open more areas of the city to duplexes, triplexes and other small multi-family developments, which she and other advocates refer to as the “missing middle.”

Goodman views such changes warily.

“When you buy a house, which is your single biggest investment, one of the things that you take into consideration is the location and what the neighborhood looks and feels like surrounding you,” she said. “To upend that and make a dramatic change without the neighborhood and neighbors agreeing to it is, I think, unconscionable.”

In a recent candidate forum, Flisrand, a co-founder of the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition, now Our Streets MPLS, was critical of Goodman’s 2016 vote on the redesign of Third Avenue in downtown that added protected bike lanes. City staff initially proposed a “road diet” that would have reduced motor vehicle lanes to one in each direction from two. Citing business community concerns, Goodman sided with a majority on the Council who voted for a two-lane plan, disappointing cycling advocates who said it fell short of stated city goals to use street design to improve bicyclist and pedestrian safety.

“In the end, we need to put bike facilities where there is a good amount of support for it,” Goodman said. “We can not use bike facilities as an attempt to punish people for driving and think that we’ll change their behavior.”

Kovacs, the conservative in the race, said he stands apart because he would have fought against the recently approved paid sick time and minimum wage ordinances, which he said put an undue burden on business. While she voted in favor of both, Goodman said the minimum wage debate “could have used a lot more a lot more compromise and nuance.”

“We’ll see if the minimum wage ordinance has a negative effect on business, and if it does we’ll have to adjust,” she said.

One of two council members representing downtown, Goodman said the city’s economic engine requires “a safe environment where people feel comfortable working.” That’s why she supported additional funding for beat cops and Downtown Improvement District ambassadors in the 2017 city budget, “and that’s made a pretty big difference,” she said.

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  • peacekimi

    I agree with Lisa on the bicycle lane issue. Recently existing roadways on 26th and 28th streets were turned into huge bike lanes and this is inappropriate use of our streets. There are 2 hospitals and college that use these streets. I work in this area and have not seen 1 bicycle on the new bike lanes; but they are riding in the one lane provided for cars. The Midtown Greenway is 1 block away and it is redundant to place bike lanes in an area that already has significant safe bike lanes.
    In addition; many parking spots have been taken away. If the city wants to put people on a “road diet” they need to provide the elderly people with physical limitations handicapped parking spots in these areas.
    Frequently I dine at establishments on Eat Street and last week after the placement of bike lanes the traffic was backed up for a long time and the exhaust fumes were unbearable; before the “road diet” this was not the case.
    My question is if the city is creating log jams for cars edling on the city streets does the benefits of bike lanes out weigh the risks of an increased amount of air pollution?
    I will be looking for other places to go out to eat and for entertainment as I use the city streets to drive on and I don’t use the freeway due to backed up traffic. This is unfortuneate for the businesses in the city.
    I have heard from numerous people who are outraged by the placement of the bike lanes on 26th and 28th street.
    Not all people want to bike and this is their right and many people are not able to bike.

  • JDO1947

    So, she’s willing to take “credit” for Minneapolis’s state of affairs! Wonderful!

  • peacekimi

    Lisa has fought for the rights of low income tenants and been successful in finding them housing when developers swoop in and try to throw them out on the street. Actually experience does matter.

  • Curmudgeon

    Saying the Midtown Greenway is redundant with lanes on 26th-28th is as dumb as saying 26th and 28th are redundant with I94. The Midtown Greenway is like a limited access bike freeway, it doesn’t go where everyone wants to go by bike and getting on or off it is few and far between.

  • mattaudio

    Goodman has much experience fighting progress.

  • mattaudio

    I work on 26th St and I love the new bike lanes. Primarily because they help slow down car traffic to safer speeds compatible with a thriving neighborhood.

  • peacekimi

    Good to know you don’t care for the Midtown Greenway maybe the SWLRT can be run there then….once the court finds in favor of LPA.

  • Curmudgeon

    Why do you hate Lake Street? There are businesses who want your passing eyes. 26th and 28t are lived with residences, they should not be commuter-scapes.

  • Jonathan Foster

    Gum, gum. gum. gum. gummmmmmmmmmmmm.

  • Jonathan Foster

    There was a day when the stop lights were broken. Not sure you can blame the bike lanes for that. We drove along both 26th and 28th during rush hour last night. Traffic was fine, and we passed probably 10sh cyclists total.

  • Roy Tullo

    She’s a bully.

  • Roy Tullo


  • Roy Tullo

    She has hindered affordable housing by putting arbitrary numbers on their cost/unit. We get under built and underfunded developments.

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