Local elections are having more and more of a direct impact on our lives as it becomes clear that the average citizen is shut out from higher levels of government. Tuesday is an important day, make no doubt about it. Tuesday's election will largely decide if the communities that the University dominates in numbers will instead be governed on the behalf of real estate developers and opportunists.
We need leaders with a vision toward emphasizing the importance of small businesses, community interaction and seeking diverse voices. The candidates below are the strongest and provide the energy and vision necessary to lead the Twin Cities. The Daily editorial board endorses the following candidates.
Ward 2: Cam Gordon
In the Cam Gordon versus Cara Letofsky race, Gordon is clearly a better City Council candidate than Letofsky. Gordon has more consistently reached out to students and has better communicated his vision. He has concrete plans for making Minneapolis a sustainable city and has the integrity to do so. Letofsky, on the other hand, severely lacks such a vision. She accepts money from real estate developers while Gordon does not. A vote for Letofsky in this race is a vote for the degradation of our communities at the hands of corporate developers. Letofsky would also be subject to the top-down pressure so often exercised by the DFL party in Minnesota. A win for Letofsky would likely result in students getting the same attention as Paul Zerby's gave them ... little to nil. Letofsky does have positives in that she is better connected to the established political structure but that advantage is just as big of a disadvantage.
Ward 3: Aaron Neumann
This race is clearly between the interests of the students living in neighborhoods such as Marcy-Holmes and the minority of long-term residents in those areas. Neumann wants Minneapolis to work with the Green Institute, desires more bike paths and wants the voice of students to be heard. Diane Hofstede, on the other hand, offers little if any vision. Her push toward a centralized library arguably hurt Minneapolis communities as a whole rather than helped them. Hofstede seems very disconnected from students and has communicated little understanding about their interests. Sure, Hofstede has the experience with city inner-bureaucracy, but so much so that she has isolated herself from the less politically connected in her community. The only supposed negative against Neumann is that he is young. Voting based on age is surely a faster path to more conservatism and disconnected ness that has fueled outrages against all University students. Neumann has the vigor to get things done.
Minneapolis mayor: R.T. Rybak
Rybak's citywide wireless plan is very attractive. Like the St. Paul mayoral race, there is little difference between candidates R.T. Rybak and Peter McLaughlin. Rybak simply needs time to see that the plans he has implemented are followed through. To change mayors now makes little sense and would delay progress rather than further it. McLaughlin has tried to distinguish himself from Rybak and offer reasons for a change but we fail to see much substance for voting against Rybak.
St. Paul mayor: Chris Coleman
The differences between Chris Coleman and incumbent mayor Randy Kelly are slight. Both want a light rail system, a developed downtown and more affordable housing. This race is about who will take the interests of St. Paul above all others. It is here that Randy Kelly fails miserably. His endorsement of President George W. Bush last year signaled a clear disconnect from a city that overwhelmingly voted Democrat. Additionally, Kelly's endorsement signals that he is of the Norm Coleman mold: more slippery opportunist than concerned about his constituency. A Kelly defeat would be well deserved. Coleman has the momentum and his energy to push for a better St. Paul is a positive sign of things to come.
We have endorsed these candidates because we believe they offer the best chance of making Minneapolis and St. Paul communities that are sustainable, progressive and accountable to its citizens. There are clear differences between the candidates, but don't just take our word for it. Read about them online, give their campaigns a call. Most importantly, vote Tuesday.