Friday, November 1, 2013

Stephanie Woodruff Gets My 1st Vote

When I first heard of this previously unknown candidate throwing her hat in the ring, I was still wallowing in my disappointment that my preferred candidate was no longer in the running.  Why, I thought, didn't someone running as a Democrat avoid the DFL endorsement process entirely?  My initial reaction was to lump Stephanie Woodruff in with the two dozen or so other non-serious candidates.  But as I listened to more mayoral debates, as I read more about the candidates who piqued my interest, and as I spoke to more and more people across our city, Woodruff continued to impress.  The word of mouth from trusted friends and colleagues started to put her over the top.

What really changed my mind was after the north Minneapolis mayoral debate, where I wound up disagreeing with Stephanie over how to approach the Upper Harbor Terminal.  Yes, a disagreement over policy led to her getting my first vote...

Since I was so thoroughly impressed with her debate performance on other issues, I decided to engage her via Twitter, which led to more lengthy Facebook messaging, and then we met up for coffee.  Through the debates and forums, our personal communications and meeting, I have come to believe Stephanie Woodruff is the most genuine and capable candidate running for mayor of Minneapolis.

She grasps the fundamentals of why certain behaviors by our city government make no sense.  She has a pragmatic, yet caring, view of how to bring about changes and is unencumbered by a desire to be politically polished.  Perhaps most importantly, she is truly open to other points of view and is receptive to changing her perspective when presented with new information (and not out of slick expediency).  I'm thoroughly impressed with Stephanie Woodruff, and look forward to voting for her as my first choice.

With my first vote locked up, I had to go through a sifting process for the rest of my mayoral ballot.  A few of those rules, in no particular order:
  1. Stadium supporters weren't going to get my first vote no matter what, and if good alternatives were out there, then they wouldn't get my second or possibly even third vote.
  2. Dan Cohen--no.  That is all.
  3. Don't talk to me about education unless you're running for school board.  Yes, education is important, and arguably more important than many other issues at mayoral forums.  But the mayor is a cheerleader at best around education.  If that's the top issue for voters, then pay more attention to the school board races.  If that's the top issue for a candidate, then run for school board instead.
  4. I tended to look at mayoral candidates through the prism of which one(s) would do the best at focusing their attention on improving the delivery of city services.  How easy is it to buy and restore a house in this city?  To start a business?  How HARD is it for slumlords or bad businesses to thumb their noses at city rules?  How safe are our streets?  What condition are those streets in?  I want a mayor who understands those bread-and-butter needs first.
  5. I'm sorry but I have to come back to this--a downtown casino?  There have been two shootings in front of my house over the past 15 months (one from cars driving past each other and another on the bus).  And yet I don't think downtown is safe.  How is a casino supposed to make it safer?  And he said the HERC garbage burner has had zero negative health impacts.  So really, NOT Dan Cohen.
  6. I'm not terribly worried about which mayor will be best for north Minneapolis.  True, we still need to have that focus, dedication, and commitment from our next mayor.  But I think we as a community have enough clout to get that, even if it takes a little more effort.  So I'm voting for a mayor for the city as a whole, not for just my community.  Even so, if all things are relatively equal, then the less effort north Minneapolis needs to expend to improve itself, the better.
  7. Still, anyone who is overly focused on downtown over the rest of the city loses points.  (Dan Cohen)
  8. I found it hard and ultimately impossible to overlook Betsy Hodges' "Day of Infamy" sneak attack on NRP.  While there is some personal animus over that (my job at the time was heavily tied to NRP funds), the real issue is more intricate.  Hodges prides herself as a budget and policy wonk.  Yet the initial proposal for de-funding neighborhood programs was a blanket freeze of ALL funds, even those that were contracted.  Well, who held many of those contracts with the neighborhoods?  Minneapolis city government.  Betsy's initial NRP proposal would have frozen NRP funds and harmed the city budget in the process.  It was a foolish, overreaching act and a self-proclaimed budget geek should have known better.  So the main thing she presents as her strength is not something where I have seen her perform well.
  9. At the end of the day, the issue that carries the most weight for me is (drum roll, please) housing preservation.  No surprise there, for readers of this blog.
So Cam Winton gets my second oval.  To be sure, I don't agree with him on every issue.  In fact, I really want streetcars on West Broadway and he's not the biggest supporter of that particular initiative.  But to borrow a line from the recent Batman trilogy, perhaps he's not the mayor we deserve, but the mayor we need.  Winton's bare bones, back to basics, "fix the streets, focus on public safety, and make Minneapolis better at delivering services" approach holds great appeal for me.  I'm not convinced that he's a mayor I would want for more than one term.  But I like the opportunity he presents to pare down some elements of city government, and we can start to add other things on after that happens.  Plus, I believe demolitions would slow drastically under his watch, if for no other reason than his hawkishness over the budget.

Mark Andrew gets my third nod.  Out of all the candidates besides Schiff, I have probably spent the most time interacting with Andrew and/or his campaign.  Andrew loses points for his needless defense of the stadium.  And he's piroutted so many times on the HERC garbage burner that I honestly don't know where he stands or what direction he's facing.  But he's engaged north Minneapolis well, and I believe, sincerely.  I've seen him around the northside at events more so than anyone else.  And if there's one issue where I've found him to be eloquent and consistent, it's housing preservation.  Mark Andrew gets a vote of mine, and it's a "real" vote, not a "if I must vote for a leading candidate" tally.

Depending on how long it takes to sort through the ballots, we'll find out who wins by November 5th-ish-bordering-on-January.

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