We are rolling toward election day. Early voting is great and we need to do more to encourage people to vote in every election. But, I’m a bit of a traditionalist. I wait for Election Day to cast my votes. In either/or elections I drag my feet to the polls because I so often ruminate about what to do with my votes until I fill-in the ovals and choose the races in which to Occupy Write-in. Ranked Choice Voting is a big step forward on the way toward creating an electoral system that allows more substantive input from more people. It would be ideal if Write-In votes were counted as a single candidate until one or another has reached plurality. We’ll have to negotiate what happens if Write-In wins. Because Minneapolis uses RCV, I could vote early in 2017. Instead, consider this my public ballot.
Bear with me a moment while I set the context for what follows. I undertook the 2017 Minneapolis Election Project for CDDF Productions in Fall 2015 because I wanted to follow the local, neighborhood-centric, themes of the beer documentary we had released the year before into the political realm. We had been standing with our neighbors in the streets to bring awareness and action to police brutality across the country and in the Twin Cities Metro. The street protest thread was folded into the Election Project because these so often intersect in Minneapolis. I think it is important to remember that the original intent of the Minneapolis Election Project was to test our hypotheses about how public video content can be used to amplify positive cultural change, specifically in the local political realm. Our main purpose was – and remains – to magnify particular aspects, ideas, and people that percolated up through the grass roots and gathered in the streets to challenge the government and demand it respect their humanity and help them find justice.
No single candidate, campaign, or office can create the level of redirection required to put our culture on the path toward justice and respect. Our approach was systemic. We made (are making) 3 video streams for the Election 2017 Project: Forums, Candidates, and Activists. The first two are focused on municipal campaigns for Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board (MPRB) and Mayor. The latter on the people and organizations challenging those institutions in public. Only lack of time and resources kept us from including City Council races. The Forum threads feature all the participants with little or no editorial comments. The idea was to raise the floor of available information for potential voters about all the candidates in a given race that participated in the public forums. Candidate-specific videos were made for a select group of people running for MPRB in the Park Districts and 3 at Large, city-wide Commissioner seats, and one candidate for Mayor. The candidates were selected because I think these people are most likely to enact the kind of changes in our city that I would like to see. The Activist thread has been spun from multiple sources. The MPRB video from 2016, street rallies and marches for various social justice movements, and challenges to the seated governments at the State and Local capitols. The close connections between candidates in the 2017 Minneapolis Election and activist communities in the city ensured that weaving these threads into a tapestry of video and prose would be a fruitful means to help shift the political and social paradigm to a more equitable, sustainable, and just city for every resident. The video streams, together, depict what I hope will work like a skeleton of seed crystals immersed in culture of Minneapolis politics and give shape to what ever will come from all the effort and passion captured by my camera. I am endorsing a group of candidates that I think will work, together, to shift Minneapolis significantly toward the equitable, safe, and just city that they all talk about on the campaign trail. To be very clear, this is my choice for MPLS governance. The individual candidates may or may not agree with my support for the others in the group.
Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board. New Hughes endorses Londel French, Devin Hogan, and Russ Henry for the 3 Commissioner at Large seats. The lone incumbent, Meg Forney, did and said nothing when the MPRB Presidents, Vice Presidents, and Commissioners brought down the legal hammer on voices of dissent in 2016 and before. I’ll let you judge her level of sincerity for yourselves as you listen to her at the Take Action MN Forum earlier this year.
The District MPRB races are flush with new faces and bold ideas. As the race progressed and it began to become clear that the conservative wing of the Minneapolis DFL was very likely to be swept out of the MPRB, a number of recycled candidates began to enter the contests. This is no real surprise. The first string conservative Commissioners pretty much decided to hang it up in 2017 and a number of them lost so decisively at the DFL nominating convention that their campaigns have never quite recovered. No more Anita Tabb, Annie Young, John Irwin, Jon Olson, Scott Vreeland, or Liz Wielinski. Not a bad start on changing the MPRB for the better. We need to follow through and elect a new majority to the MPRB.
These are my choices: District 1: Chris Meyer – DFL endorsed. District 2: Kale Severson – DFL endorsed. District 3: AK Hassan – DFL, Charles Exner – Green Party endorsed. District 4: Jono Cowgill – DFL endorsed. District 5: No endorsement. District 6: Brad Bourn – DFL endorsed incumbent.
Minneapolis Mayor. New Hughes endorses Nekima Levy-Pounds for Mayor. She has been my first choice since she entered the race. The results of the DFL Ward and City-wide endorsing conventions for Minneapolis reiterated why Nekima is the best choice for Mayor. The conventions and campaigns suggest that our city will likely sweep a new wave of Progressive DFLers and Greens into the MPRB and City Council. The next Mayor will have to be strong and independent enough to hold them to account for the campaign promises made. No other Mayoral candidate has so clearly shown that they are willing and able to do so. The stronger the progressive wave, the more we need Nekima as Mayor.
Second choice: Ray Dehn. Mostly because if Levy-Pounds is not Mayor, then at least we can send a message to the State and National Democratic Party that the Progressive Berners can win elections while the centrists and conservative Democrats – like Hodges, Frey, and Hoch- cannot.
Third choice: Captain Jack Sparrow. I appreciate his unwavering support for the most vulnerable residents of our city.
City Council. We have not focused of Council races, but I would like to highlight two candidates that deserve your support. Samantha Lee Pree-Stinson in Ward 3 – Green Party endorsed. Raeisha Williams in Ward 5 – DFL. Both candidates exemplify the most promising aspect of the 2017 Minneapolis election, people making an effort to move from the streets to the seats; to take the passion of street protesters into city hall. Examples here for Samantha and here for Raeisha. No surprise both have been campaigning with Nekima Levy-Pounds. With these strong, unapologetic, and conscious women in Minneapolis government, this city will begin to more fully realize our potential as a modern city that welcomes everyone. Everyone.
Now – go vote!