Green Party candidate aspires to repair democracy

by Seth Woehrle

Cam Gordon says he sees a breakdown in Minneapolis’ democracy and it’s something he wants to fix.

As the Green Party’s candidate for the Minneapolis’ 2nd Ward City Council seat, Gordon is campaigning on a platform that includes increased communication with constituents and “green” ideals.

“A piece of what the city is facing is improving its participatory democracy, getting people involved and getting them connected with their government,” he said.

If elected to office, Gordon said he would work to restructure how the Minneapolis Community Development Agency, the Planning Department and the Neighborhood Revitalization Program interrelate and how those entities could help curb the housing crisis.

Transportation is another important issue for Gordon. He said he intends to keep the city pedestrian-friendly and support alternative transportation.

Gordon said he also sees room for improvement in the Minneapolis Police Department, saying trust and respect have eroded. He listed racial profiling, unnecessary shootings and overreactions to last year’s animal genetics protests as serious problems.

“We have to come to some kind of consensus on what community policing is,” Gordon said. “I think some neighborhoods are struggling to get some kind of community policing that works for them. Sometimes the city and the police department have a different kind of definition.”

Gordon, 45, has a strong connection to the University. He was born at the University’s hospital in 1955. He graduated from the University in 1977 with a bachelor’s degree in education.

He went on to teach in various private and public schools, instructed children in music and was certified as a Montessori educator.

Gordon became the first Green Party member to seek office in Minnesota when he ran for state representative in 1996.

He lost but garnered about 24 percent of the vote – more than the Republican candidate.

In 1997, he started River’s Edge, a home-based child-care center in Minneapolis’ Seward neighborhood, where he was involved in neighborhood politics and was a reporter for the local newsletter, the Seward Profile.

He has also served as the chairman of the Minneapolis Green Party and recently left the party’s coordinating committee to campaign for city council and against the public “subsidizing” of commercial developments.

“A lot of people feel disconnected in terms of what kinds of programs are going on and where the funding is ending up,” said Gordon, citing the Target store on Nicollet Mall subsidy that will cost taxpayers $62 million and the development of Block E in downtown Minneapolis.

Gordon said 2nd Ward incumbent Joan Campbell, who has served on the council since 1990, doesn’t communicate well with her constituents. He also isn’t impressed Campbell voted for city subsidies for corporate projects such as the Target store.

“I think we have a system in City Hall where the biggest companies and most favored developers seem to have a big sway in the decisions that are being made and a lot of people are getting left out,” Gordon said.

Campbell said she respected Gordon’s campaign and agreed with him on some environmental issues but that many of his more socialist ideas would be hard to implement in a capitalistic society.

“I think that Cam is running a good campaign on the issues of importance for the Green Party,” she said. “He certainly hasn’t been attacking me personally, which I’m grateful for.”