BY DAVID TILSEN
This year, Minneapolis will have elections for city offices. This means the mayor, all the City Council members, Park Board and Board of Estimate and Taxation. With the multiple crises that the city has gone through and is still going through, I expect the debate and discussion on these races to be illuminating, and hopefully healing and helpful.
On Wednesday evening, Feb. 24, there was a candidate debate between six candidates running for the 10th Ward City Council seat. The 10th Ward includes most of Uptown, Whittier and the Wedge.
First impressions were that there was a lack of specifics. Everyone wants “to change the culture of the police,” more police accountability, build more “affordable housing,” provide better public transportation and is against racism and hunger.
No one talked about the upcoming Chauvin trial or the deployment of the National Guard.
*Aisha Chughtai – Child of immigrants, longtime city political progressive. Former campaign manager for Ilhan Omar, union organizer, Take Action Minnesota staff. Very impressive, talks a lot about equity and justice, wants to do regular town halls in the ward.
*Steven Frisch – Calls himself a Democratic Socialist. Wants free public transportation, no cash bail, $15 minimum wage now, free school lunch, mass transit, electric vehicles and free bike rental.
*Alicia Gibson – Went to South Africa to study truth and reconciliation, big supporter of this and also restorative justice. Scholar on racism and conflict resolution. Supports Chief Arradondo.
*Katie Jones – Longtime City Hall insider. Has served on multiple boards and commissions over the years. Says we need to improve public transportation, reduce vehicle miles traveled. Climate change is a major factor in city decisions. Shows up.
*Chris Parsons – St. Paul firefighter captain. The police are understaffed, need to be properly staffed, safety in the city is hurting small businesses. He did say that police should not be murdering citizens.
*David Wheeler – Former Duluth City Council member and candidate for Duluth mayor. Says we need more police, he supports the mayor and the police chief. Criticizes the current City Council strongly on some specifics.
Police and Charter Amendments
There are a couple of charter amendments, one a citizens’ petition, and one by three City Council members. The amendments are so similar that the council members have said they will drop theirs if the petition drive is successful.
Candidates who said they were for the charter amendment:
Aisha Chughtai, Katie Jones.
Steven Frisch said he wanted an elected civilian council to hold police accountable.
Alicia Gibson believes restorative justice and a neighborhood truth and reconciliation commission would be helpful.
Everyone is for more “police accountability.” Other than the amendments and Mr. Frisch’s support of a civilian council, no one had any specific recommendations. There was no mention of the recommended research done by the Communities United Against Police Brutality.
The election and the DFL endorsement will utilize ranked choice voting. You can then have multiple acceptable candidates.
Was favorably impressed
Number one, Aisha Chughtai – She’s ready, been through the muck and the mire, and has come out wiser and stronger. She would be a strong addition to the City Council.
Alicia Gibson – She expressed support for Arradondo and Huffman, which gave me pause, but the other things she said resonated. I might consider her for a second place vote.
No so impressed
Steven Frisch – I liked everything he said, but he didn’t seem to be ready for the City Council. He should spend a few more years as an advocate.
Katie Jones – A good grasp of details and how to get things done. I didn’t hear the broad vision that I think a council member should have. Would be a great staff person.
Chris Parsons – Nice guy, didn’t seem to understand systemic racism and how to address it. Too uncritical of police.
David Wheeler – If you love the last three years under Mayor Frey, then you’d love Mr. Wheeler.