The four city council candidates running in Ward 13 shared their viewpoints in a forum on Sept. 6, 2023 at Mount Olivet Lutheran Church. Attending were Linea Palmisano, Kate Mortenson, Zach Metzger, and Bob Carney. The forum was sponsored by the League of Woman Voters.
The moderator, Lonnie Skrentner, started the forum by asking for opening comments.
“I work in close partnership with council president Jenkins and Mayor Frey,” said incumbent Palmisano, after noting that she had endorsements from the Democratic Farmer Labor (DFL) party, the Minneapolis Firefighters Local 82, the building trades union and Woman Winning. “My work here is not done,” she said. “I have 10 years of experience and experience matters, relationships matter and hard work matters.”
Mortenson said that she has lived in the Lynnhurst neighborhood for 17 years, is a civic leader, business owner and a “proud third generation member of a family business, Mortenson Construction.” Later she noted that she also served in the Peace Corps and worked as a classroom teacher.
“We have a set of low expectations brought on by a disappointing status quo,” she said. “From a practical progressive ward, we expect more. Hard work, that’s nice, we need results. Saying no to bad policy, that’s a low bar. Frankly, we should be able to work across differences to get the city’s work accomplished.” Mortenson listed her three priorities as safety, city services like streets “clear of potholes, garbage and snow,” and supporting businesses by “setting the table for success, in Downtown 2.0, Uptown and the success of our businesses in ward 13.”
Carney, currently a substitute teacher who has run unsuccessfully for office several times in the past, called himself a “frequent filer.” He said that he was running to try to move the Republican party “in a moderate and liberal direction,” and that he would not serve nor take the oath of office if elected. He repeatedly mentioned wanting to work with Palmisano as the council member in the future.
Metzger, who said he was a fourth generation resident of Ward 13, stated, “I am running to be the change that so many of us, especially over the last three years, have asked for.” He said that he is the first BIPOC candidate running for council in the ward, and that during his campaign so far “a lot of you have told me that you feel unheard, and I know what it feels like to not be listened to.”
The priority issues on his website are safety, housing and climate. He was a legislative aide in 2021 for state representative John Thompson, a field organizer for the state DFL party and a board member of the Linden Hills neighborhood council. In June, he announced that he was running for city council in ward 11 but later clarified his plans and filed to be on the ballot as a ward 13 candidate.
Metzger, Mortenson and Palmisano all affiliate themselves with the DFL.
RENT CONTROL, CLIMATE, 2040 PLAN
The four agreed on several policy issues asked about at the forum.
They all opposed regulating rents. “Rent control is not a solution,” said Metzger. “We are absolutely on the right track without rent control,” said Mortenson. Palmisano, who voted against putting a rent control proposal on the ballot this year agreed but also listed funding for affordable and public housing, inclusionary zoning requirements, and allowing more single room occupancy/rooming houses to be built, all strategies called for in the 2040 plan, as alternative ways to address the housing crisis.
All four agree that neighborhood organizations should get more funding. Mortenson shared concerns that the funding had not been maintained under the current city council and said, “I will find the 3 million” to restore past funding cuts.
They all support funding to address climate change. “Over the last two years the police budget went up $36 million, but we have 300 less police available,” Metzger said. “We’ve done property tax levies for the police, but we haven’t done it for the climate.”
They agree that the city’s 2040 comprehensive plan should not be fully implemented. “I believe now as I did back then,” said Palmisano referring to her lone vote against approving the plan in 2018. “We have the right goals, but we have the wrong plan.” She supports an environmental review and “taking a step back.”
Metzger agreed with Palmisano and said, “The 2040 plan, even if it’s done properly, is still on the backs of BIPOC people to make developers money.”
“This reset of the 2040 plan is a huge opportunity for us as a ward,” Mortenson said, “to decide what are the things we do not like from the plan and to get organized, so those things won’t be happening upon us.”
ROOF DEPOT AND PUBLIC SAFETY
Palmisano’s support for demolishing the roof depot building in the Phillips neighborhood, however, was met with criticism from both Metzger and Mortenson. “Wrong is wrong,” said Mortenson, “It really hurt my heart to learn that our representative took a vote to tear down the Roof Depot.”
There were also differences about how to address public safety. “Since 2020, after the killing of George Floyd and the pandemic, Minneapolis has not come up with a concrete plan on how to move the city forward,” Metzger said. “We have spent $150 million on police misconduct and PTSD claims, and the city is not moving in the direction that people want.”
In terms of improving safety, Carney said that the city should use technology better and that “we need to be rethinking how we do public safety.” Mortenson wants the city to “lean in fully to the behavioral crisis response options” and also said that “we absolutely need more cops in ward 13.”
Palmisano stressed that compliance with the courts related to the state and federal investigations into police practices was “going to be expensive” and insisted that having only one monitor was ideal. Metzger disagreed, saying that there should be two and that “we need to work with both monitors to create a greater Minneapolis police department so that we don’t have more Derek Chauvins.” Metzger also said that he opposed police buyback programs.
CHALLENGES FACING THE CITY
When asked about the biggest challenges facing the city and how to address them, Carney focused on a “crisis of public behavior.” Metzger listed safety and housing and addressing them by being open minded and always serving the people.
Palmisano said that racism, safety and housing are the biggest challenges and that it will be important to listen to those most impacted and measure results well if we are to address them successfully.
For Mortenson the biggest challenge has been a failure of leadership. “There is a pull to the left,” she said, “because there is a failure of leadership.”
“You know me, you know I listen, and I am all in,” Palmisano said in her closing comments. She said that she was a level-head, calm and direct advocate for her constituents, and that “you don’t get to cheer-lead your way to change.”
“For me this is about change,” said Mortenson, “because I don’t believe we cannot do better. So, if you want more of the same, if you don’t believe it’s going to be any better, let’s vote for more of the same, and if not, please believe in a better city and vote for me.”
“I am running to help the Republican party,” said Carney.
“I’m here to be new leadership, to bring a bold new vision that actually is transparent, doesn’t just say it and [to be] the first BIPOC city council member of ward 13,” said Metzger.
The city council election will be on Nov. 7 and will use ranked choice voting. People can vote by mail, vote early in person at an early voting center or on election day at a polling place in their precinct. For more information and to learn how to vote early, how to register, and where to vote visit https://vote.minneapolismn.gov/voters/.
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