The 2017 election in Minneapolis has picked up steam with the reset of donation limits for campaign contributions in the new year. The flexibility of party endorsements that may or may not carry much weight, the open ballot access, and leveling effect of ranked choice voting, create an exciting mix of opportunity and risk. Opportunity because 2017 is an off – off- year election and as such will likely be low turn-out. This favors well-organized, passionate, campaigns and there are a bevy of those all across the city. Risk because the entire Minneapolis city government is up for election this November. The fall-out from the 2016 election continues to drive people to protest marches, letter-writing campaigns, and participation in social/political organizations, to express opposition to the explicitly authoritarian Trump regime, as well as the allied GOP majority in the Minnesota state legislature. Minneapolis, along with many other progressive cities across the nation, stand in stark contrast to the overtly militaristic, strong-arm policies being promulgated by the MN Republican Party and the Trumpist Authoritarian Regime. Resistance in the streets, airports, and government hearings are important and powerful ways for people to express their opposition and offer alternatives, but it is not enough. That is why I am encouraged by the decision of so many activists and organizers to campaign for elected office and take the ideals of the street into the halls of government. Over the next few months New Hughes will focus on the people, candidates, and issues that will define Minneapolis Election 2017.
We refer to Minneapolis as “The City of Lakes”, but in many ways “The City of Parks” is more accurate. The Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board (MPRB) is, perhaps, one of the least acknowledged players in our municipal government. The 9 member MPRB oversees almost 15% of the land in Minneapolis, employs thousands of people, and is responsible for growing the parks that are a foundation of the city’s identity. Many people are surprised to learn that commissioners on the MPRB are elected every 4 years. Each of the 6 Park Districts elects a commissioner and 3 At Large commissioners are elected citywide. The MPRB is a prime example of the opportunity that I see in the 2017 election. Almost every one of the incumbent District commissioners are being challenged by a more progressive candidate and the At Large seats are ripe for substantive change as well. The new candidates share the common goal to more effectively enhance the healthy and happiness of all people through the Minneapolis Park System. The current MPRB has been lax in mobilizing the power of the parks as community centers for safe, desirable, recreational options for people of every age, ability, income, and culture. We can do better. We must do better. The Minneapolis has created one of the premiere park systems in the nation. It is time we use that status to lead the way and set a strong example for how to unleash the full potential of the parks to help grow a more resilient, just, and inclusive City for everyone – even if you don’t live here.
Let’s get the election started by introducing 3 of the candidates for Parks Commissioner At Large, Londel French, Russ Henry, and Devin Hogan. These candidates are at the center of a more cooperative political movement in Minneapolis. In a sense, they are competing with each other by vying for the DFL endorsement for the 3 At Large seats on the MPRB, but they refuse to be divided by the political system. Effectively, they are running as a progressive slate in the caucuses and convention. With our help on April 4 and June 24, all 3 will be on the ballot in November. These short videos highlight a core message of each candidate in their own words.