BY ED FELIEN
City elections are coming up on Tuesday, Nov. 7. All 13 seats are up for grabs. Here’s who we like:
Ward 1—Elliott Payne. He votes right all the time, very progressive, without grandstanding. Besides, he’s a Black Diaper Baby. Children of communists and leftists are called Red Diaper Babies. Children of Black Panthers should be called Black Diaper Babies. He shares that distinction with Fani Willis, the Georgia prosecutor who wants to send Trump to jail. Her father, too, was a Black Panther. Payne: “I was an advertising executive, not a Black Panther like my dad. But I knew I had to be part of the struggle that brought my parents together.”
Ward 2—Robin Wonsley. She exercises amazing leadership in storming the citadels of power in defense of the homeless, abused minorities and the Urban Farm in Phillips. We are grateful for her courage and her strength.
Ward 3—Marcus Mills. He has some good proposals, but too many glittering generalities. The big thing in his favor is that he would more than likely support the progressive faction on the City Council.
Michael Rainville, the incumbent, is part of the current conservative majority.
The city election this year is a really big deal. It is possible that the balance of power could shift on the City Council—away from the conservative faction and toward the progressive faction that is in favor of rent control, the Urban Farm and accountability of the police.
Rainville is the latest incarnation of the Northside Machine. He’s the cousin of Barbara Johnson, a council member since 1997 and council president from 2006 to 2017, who was the daughter of Alice Rainville, who served on the City Council for 22 years.
I confess to a small measure of responsibility for creating this fearsome Northside Machine that has dominated politics in the 3rd and 4th Wards in North Minneapolis for the last half century. I served on the City Council 50 years ago with John Derus, Alice Rainville’s nephew. John gave me more wisdom in one pithy sentence than I got from years of studying political theory. He told me, “There’s only one rule in politics – you have to know how to count.” After one year, John resigned his seat because he’d been elected to the Hennepin County Board. The council had to appoint someone to fill John’s seat for the months before the next election. We appointed the winner of the 4th Ward DFL convention: John’s aunt, Alice Rainville.
I think Michael Rainville got a bum rap for going over to talk to some imams at a Northeast mosque about some Somali kids exhibiting bad behavior. What he did was classic Nordeast Catholic Church behavior—you got a problem with some juvenile delinquent, you go over and talk to the priest and ask him to talk to the kid.
Ward 4—Marvina Haynes. She pushes all the right buttons. According to MinnPost in August, the incumbent, LaTrisha Vetaw, is being seriously considered as a challenger to Ilhan Omar next year by AIPAC (America-Israel Political Action Committee). Don Samuels, who came close two years ago, is running again, and he publicly wonders why he’s not getting any of that AIPAC money.
Ward 5—Jeremiah Ellison. He’s been consistently progressive. Two years ago, Ellison won in a tight three-way race between him (1752 votes), Kristel Porter (1355) and Victor Martinez (1352). This year it’s between Ellison and Martinez. Will Porter’s votes go to Martinez? Stay tuned.
Ward 6—Kayseh Magan. He’s good on rent control and police accountability. Jamal Osman, the incumbent, is entangled along with 60 others in the Feeding Our Future scandal that seems to have stolen $250 million from the feds. Tiger Worku, the other strong candidate, is from the Oromo community. He was asked to resign as head of the Seward Neighborhood Group because of a collapse in organizational structure under his leadership.
Ward 7—Katie Cashman. She works for the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy. She seems best able to move the city to progressive change.
Ward 8—Soren Stevenson. Andrea Jenkins is the consummate City Hall insider. She was a policy aide to City Council members for 12 years, has been a council member for six years, and was elected council president in 2022. She didn’t oppose the 2040 Plan that will replace affordable homes in the inner city with huge apartment buildings. She didn’t support the Urban Farm Project, and she hasn’t actively worked to make the MPD accountable. Soren Stevenson lost an eye after being shot by the MPD at a protest demonstration after the murder of George Floyd.
Ward 9—Jason Chavez. He’s not flamboyant, but he gets things done. [See Cam Gordon’s piece on Avivo in this issue.]
Ward 10—Aisha Chughtai. The original 10th Ward DFL endorsing convention was disrupted by Nasri Warsame’s supporters. Warsame was banished by the DFL for his role in the melee. Chughtai is a solid progressive.
Ward 11—Emily Koski. This was a hard one. Koski generally votes with the conservatives on the council, but she seems eager to work with progressives. [Again, see Cam Gordon’s piece on Avivo.]
Ward 12—Aurin Chowdhury. Clearly, the most progressive choice. She has been a policy aide to Jason Chavez, so she’s fluent and functional.
Ward 12 Campaign contributors:
Luther Ranheim pulled in $59,000 from bankers, developers, property managers, lawyers and lobbyists for big construction and management projects, Flint Hills Refinery (Koch Industries-owned), CenterPoint, and the Downtown Council.
Nancy Ford raised almost nothing for this campaign, with only 12 donations over $100, two of which she gave to the campaign.
Aurin Chowdhury raised a little under $58,000 from labor organizers (SEIU, AFSCME), current City Council members, current state House and Senate members, teachers and professors, energy conservation and alternative energy concerns (Bright Power, Atta Planning), paid DFL staff, immigration advocates and lawyers, many progressive advocacy groups (MoveOn, Minnesota Voice, Jewish Community Action, Civic Eagle, Tending the Soil), writers and book store owners (Moon Palace), musicians and music teachers. Of 128 individual donations over $100, only one came from a political action committee: Women Winning PAC.
Ward 13—Zach Metzger. He has the chance of a Winter Carnival ice sculpture at the gates of hell, but you should check out his videos on housing, public safety, and climate on his website, www.zachforthepeople.com. Very sweet. Very hopeful. Very right on! The website seems a bit sparse, and in some of his campaign photos supporters are holding his campaign literature upside down. Not a good look. But “Lavish Mack” should get credit for expanding people’s notion of what is possible downtown at City Hall.
Make a plan to vote, whether early in-person, by mail, or at your local precinct on Nov. 7. It’s our democracy and we get to decide – but only if we inform ourselves and show up.