Green Party takes over Ward 2 with Cam Gordon

by Bryce Haugen

By a close margin Tuesday, University-area residents chose Green Party candidate Cam Gordon as their next Minneapolis City Council member.

Gordon received 2,481 votes, according to preliminary results, beating DFL rival Cara Letofsky 51 percent to 48 percent with 98.7 percent of precincts reporting. He will represent Ward 2, which includes the University, Cedar-Riverside, Prospect Park and Seward communities, replacing Paul Zerby, who decided against running for re-election.

“It’s pretty incredible what we did,” Gordon said, delivering his victory speech to excited supporters and volunteers at the 2nd Moon Café in Seward. “We ran on our message, on people power Ö and on the truth that we can bring an independent voice to City Hall.”

“Don’t let me forget that,” he said to roaring applause.

Gordon, a 49-year-old longtime community activist who operates a small child-care program and children’s music company, said his campaign overcame tough odds to beat “the (DFL) establishment.”

The 1977 University graduate received strong support from students. He beat Letofsky by a 3-1 ratio at the Coffman Union precinct, according to preliminary results.

The Ward 2 election was a victory for students, said Minnesota Student Association President Emily Serafy Cox, Gordon’s volunteer and campus coordinator.

Gordon will “not just advocate on their behalf, but will advocate with them,” she said.

Four years ago, Gordon lost to Paul Zerby by 108 votes.

“I cried for days,” said state Green Party chairwoman Betsy Barnum, who ran that campaign. “I think Cam is exactly what this community needs.”

For a while it looked as if Gordon might lose another squeaker. With six of 11 precincts reporting, Letofsky led by three votes.

“It’s a little close for comfort,” said Letofsky, a seasoned political activist, whose eyes rarely strayed from the results spreadsheet, which was projected onto white sheets of paper taped to the wall.

The mood at her campaign headquarters, in the Blue Nile Restaurant, a few blocks from Gordon’s party, turned from optimistic to “surprised” when results from the Prospect Park neighborhood – which traditionally votes DFL – gave the Green Party candidate a lead he never lost.

A few minutes later, Letofsky conceded, thanking her group of disappointed supporters and insisting that “there’s a lot to do to make (our) vision a reality.”

But down the street, Gordon had no idea he’d won. He refused to declare victory until he heard the results for himself, waiting nearly 20 minutes because of to difficulties connecting with poll watchers.

Gordon supporters said the election results are a victory for grassroots activism. The campaign spent one-third as much as Letofsky’s and had no paid staff, Gordon said.

“Let’s give some hugs,” he told his campaign volunteers.

Letofsky said the mostly cordial campaign got a little uglier in the final week. But both candidates said they hope to remain friends and partners in activist causes.