It’s election season in the Twin Cities, and Minneapolis, among other cities, will elect City Council Members and a Mayor this year. While the general election isn’t until November, the city’s dominant Democratic Farmer-Labor party will begin its endorsement process next week. The party endorses through a caucus process, and their website has information on the location and date of the caucuses for each ward, the ward conventions, and the city convention.
In anticipation of the caucuses and conventions, which could make or break some campaigns, MSPyimby and WedgeLIVE developed a candidate questionnaire focused on housing. I read over the responses and I wanted to summarize the candidates’ positions for streets.mn readers. So I decided to make a spreadsheet! Check it out below. At the bottom of the post, I’ll talk about how I made it.
Spreadsheets have strengths and weaknesses. It’s easier to look at a single thing and compare different characteristics of different things than it is to read pages of prose. It’s limiting that in order to make a spreadsheet, you have to choose what to keep in and what to leave out and to reduce complex things (like answers to a housing policy survey) to simple things (like support, mixed, or oppose). On balance, I think it’s useful. I’ll explain my choices.
In order to make this a useful and timely chart, I included only candidates in competitive races for the DFL endorsement. Council Member Lisa Bender, for example, completed a questionnaire, but is unopposed in seeking the DFL endorsement in Ward 10, so I left her off the spreadsheet. Samantha Pree-Stinson and Ginger Jentzen are not on the Ward 3 section of the list because they are candidates for the Green Party and Socialists Party, respectively. Six City Council Members seeking reelection — Kevin Reich, Barb Johnson, Abdi Warsame, Lisa Goodman, Alondra Cano, and John Quincy — failed to respond to the questionnaire, and so they’re not on the spreadsheet.
Five policy questions were common themes in the survey responses: Does the construction of market-rate housing help or hurt Minneapolis? Should we rezone low-density districts in the city to allow “missing middle” housing, like duplexes, triplexes, and courtyard apartments? Do light commercial establishments, like cafes and corner stores, have a place in quiet neighborhood interiors? Should Minneapolis adopt an inclusionary zoning policy, either to reward or require developers to include affordable units in new development? Finally, how can we afford to subsidize housing with little cooperation from the state and federal legislatures? For the first four questions, I characterized each candidate’s support for the proposal on a spectrum from “support” to “oppose.” For the subsidized housing question, I wrote down funding sources and policy ideas. The spreadsheet is hyperlinked, so you can click on the text in the spreadsheet to go read the candidate’s full response to the question.
I know a lot of folks find him personally off-putting, but Frey gives the best responses to these questions in the mayoral race.
A note about inclusionary zoning: at the Ward 1 forum, both Riech and Wefel claimed that anywhere outside of downtown it would shut down development and do more harm than good. Based on my observations I’m inclined to believe them. This isn’t NYC, and I think it’s more feel-good look-how-progessive-I-am than actually useful.
Thank you so much for making this! I am headed to the ward caucus and city caucus, and I look forward to reviewing this in detail.