Lisa Bender has the strongest environmental record

I’m writing to set the record straight in the Ward 10 City Council race.

Gay Noble’s letter to the editor on Sept. 25 outlining the incumbent’s environmental record is a work of fiction, or at least clever editing.

Council member Meg Tuthill did earn the Sierra Club’s coveted endorsement four years ago. But this year, the Sierra Club (along with the DFL) has instead endorsed Meg’s challenger, Lisa Bender. As a three-time, current appointee to the city’s environmental commission, I can understand why.

While other Council Members have moved through ordinances on commercial recycling, urban farming, and building energy disclosure, Meg has only authored only one ordinance in her three-plus years — to make it impossible for a liquor store to open in one particular location.

On developing new infrastructure for safe bicycling, Meg has actually made it harder. During the discussion of the Bryant Avenue Bike Boulevard she opposed common-sense design solutions, resulting in a street that doesn’t work well for community members using either cars or bikes.

Meg assumed the same opposing position when organizers first approached her about the Open Streets Lyndale event. Now that the event is a success, Meg is taking credit. (In reality, credit is due to the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition, an organization co-founded by Lisa Bender.)

Last year, the Council passed landmark urban agriculture reforms that make it legal to once again grow food commercially in Minneapolis. Meg fought to weaken those reforms through amendments – including one that prohibits local farmers from selling to the public for more than 15 days in a single year. (Council Members are now working to scrap that restriction, which is likely in violation of the Minnesota state Constitution.)

On other issues, Tuthill is also taking credit for other people’s work. The city’s single-sort recycling program was under development before Meg took office in 2009, with a pilot program that included the East Calhoun neighborhood. The effort to keep overhead power lines off of the Midtown Greenway was led by the Council Members who represent Wards 2, 6, 8 and 9. The Ward 9 Council Member, Gary Schiff, has endorsed Lisa Bender.

After three-plus years, Meg is now talking about a ban or fee on single-use plastic bags. But a number of other candidates, including Lisa Bender, have proposed similar measures.

Minneapolis has certainly made impressive advances over the past few years around environmental sustainability. But Meg has been an inconsistent, reactionary voice on environmental sustainability. Ward 10 deserves better than election-year reversals and rhetoric.

Instead of opposing innovative sustainability measures, Lisa Bender will work proactively for a prosperous and greener Minneapolis. She will work to improve transit and urban farming, support smart development that fights urban sprawl, and create walkable, bikeable streets. Lisa is also wisely talking about reducing the amount of both single-use plastic bags and organic waste from the garbage incineration stream (through a citywide curbside compost collection program).

For these reasons, I will be giving Lisa my #1 vote this November, and I urge readers to do the same.

Ross Abbey