Alumnus runs for City Council

Allen Kathir is running against four other candidates in the November election for Ward 3.

University of Minnesota alumna Allen Kathir is running against four other candidates for Minneapolis City Council Ward 3.

Image by Jason Kopp

University of Minnesota alumna Allen Kathir is running against four other candidates for Minneapolis City Council Ward 3.

by Eric Nehring

At 24, Allen Kathir isn’t your typical college graduate in search of just any job. This University of Minnesota alumnus is campaigning against four other candidates for Minneapolis City Council Ward 3, including DFL incumbent Diane Hofstede . Raymond Wilson Rolfe, Jeffrey Cobia and Melissa Hill make up the rest of his competition. KathirâÄôs resume Kathir graduated from the University in 2007 with a degree in electrical engineering, where he served for two years as president of the Mock Trial Association and vice president of Tau Beta Pi and Eta Kappa Nu, the International Honors Society for Electrical and Computer Engineers. Treasurer of the Mock Trial Association Thomas Pranica said Kathir coaches a team of eight to 10 members. âÄúMock trialâÄôs a skill which uses analytical ability to solve problems and communicate as a litigator would in a court room, which I think would be very helpful for formulating policy in any form of government,âÄù he said. Kathir also served one year on the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission . Kathir said after talking to different groups in Ward 3 earlier this year, he realized they were not being equally represented. Ward 3 includes parts of north and northeast Minneapolis and the University campus. “When youâÄôre making policy, itâÄôs not about listening to the first voice that talks to you or about the loudest or most connected,âÄù he said. âÄúRight now when policy is being made in Ward 3 âĦ there are groups who are being excluded and not being brought to the table when these policies are directly affecting them.âÄù Hofstede, his opponent, said she responds to citizens in her ward through e-mail, newsletters and by paying attention to what is said in ward and community meetings. She said she will continue to focus on important recurring issues, including the budget. âÄúThe budget is critically important as we move forward to make some decisions regarding budget cuts,âÄù Hofstede said. Student constituents Because of the high turnover rates of students coming to and leaving the University, many students aren’t aware of the issues that affect them, even though they make up almost one-third of Ward 3, Kathir said. One issue heâÄôs concerned about is towing fees, which he said are higher in Minneapolis than in larger cities like New York City and Los Angeles. He said there’s no maximum to how much towing companies can charge, and you don’t get a choice over who tows you. The City Council proposed an ordinance that would have set fees at a reasonable maximum, but Hofstede opposed it, he said. Another issue Kathir said affects students is rising rental property taxes that increase rent and are set by the City Council. He is passionately opposes the proposal to ban 18- to 20-year-olds from venues that serve alcohol. He said underage drinking is a problem, but should be addressed differently. “In addition to clubbing and 18-plus nights, the thing it would hurt would be our music scene,” he said. “Part of the reason people come [to Minneapolis] is for the music and arts scene.” The first step to increasing student-voter turnout is by educating and informing students about issues that affect them, Kathir said. The second step is to tell them how the City Council affects them, Kathir said. New election day voting Instant-runoff voting, or ranked choice voting, has had its share of criticism, but Kathir remains optimistic about the new system. Hofstede said her campaign is working to educate people about ranked choice voting. Kathir said his campaign and the city of Minneapolis have been trying to educate constituents as well. “I think there’s still an educational gap that has to be closed,” he said. Kathir said he thinks ranked choice voting has changed campaigning and builds more coalitions, because candidates arenâÄôt as negative toward each other anymore. “If their [opponents’] supporters are going to rank them first, you want their support to rank you second,” he said. “If you don’t want me for your first choice, look at me as your second choice.”