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Former Herron aide defends her last-minute candidacy

According to members of the local media, my neighbors in the 8th Ward and the citizens of Minneapolis want to know if I benefited from insider information when filing for the 8th Ward council member’s seat before they consider my qualifications or my positions on the major issues facing our community: housing, 35W expansion, airport noise and community livability. While I will deal with the media’s conduct later, that is a fair expectation from the community.

At 3:40 p.m., July 17, I made a decision I thought was at least three years away. My day started like many others. I was in the ward attending a meeting about Interstate 35W. I later arrived at City Hall at 12:30 p.m. I had constituents to serve and deadlines to meet. At 3:10 p.m., I received a phone call from Brian Herron asking me to get a press release from the council president or the mayor’s chief of staff for a press conference to be held at 6 p.m. at Zion Baptist Church. I followed up as instructed and walked to the council president’s office. She was not there, and her staff did not have a copy of the press release. I was unable to connect with the council president, so I returned to my office and took some constituent calls. Still, at this point nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

At 3:30 p.m., I went to the mayor’s office and asked the receptionist if I could see the chief of staff. I walked in and found the council president, the city coordinator, the mayor’s chief of staff and a communications staff member crying. The council president came toward me and announced Herron had resigned. I could not believe my ears and had her repeat it. Devastated, I found a nearby chair, sat down and cried. My first question to all of them was, “What will happen to us?” I meant what would happen to us in the ward. They handed me a tissue. And I asked, “Do you guys have an application or do I need to run downstairs and get one?” The chief of staff handed me an application that she had on her desk.

The next few minutes were a blur with people asking, “Are you sure you want to do this?” I replied, “I have to do this.” Within the last two years, several people had asked me if I wanted to run for office. Brian and I had talked about it. He had struggled with the decision to run this time. But,suddenly, it was a “come as you are affair” and school was out. Brian was gone and I had to act. I filled out the short application and hurried to the elections office.

At 3:50 p.m., I arrived at the elections office with my friend and high school classmate Colleen Moriarity. When we got there, she loaned me $20 to cover the filing fee. I had left my purse upstairs. I had also left my driver’s license. She held my place while I went upstairs to get my purse. I returned to the elections office, filed for office and repaid the loan.

That’s the story.

Now, about the politics surrounding my filing. Did I take advantage of a once in a lifetime opportunity? Yes. There were no rules requiring me to put out a public notice to other would-be candidates about Herron’s resignation. Their lesson, like mine, is to pursue your dreams. You never know what fate will bring you. I thought I had a few more years to learn the job. Suddenly, school was out and I had to step up to the plate. As for my opponents for the seat, they are willing to take on the two-term incumbent – certainly my last-minute entry is not a problem. I made the decision to file. If there are City Hall officials claiming to have encouraged me, certain questions must immediately be posed. First, what was my relationship with them? Second, how did they know that I had any interest in running? Third, why would I put my health, sanity and family on the line just to support their political agendas? Given the predictable fallout of the recent turn of events and my candidacy, none of them are flocking to support me. This, though, helps me in the end.

Once you think through these questions, rational people can understand that the elected officials in City Hall did not pull my strings to run just as they won’t be able to pull my strings once I am elected. I made my decision based on what I thought was right, just as I will in the future. I won’t owe my candidacy or pending election to anyone except my constituents. I surrounded myself with people who believe in our issues and me, and we are going to win this race. Therefore, I won’t owe my future votes to anyone in City Hall, no matter how much they seek to take credit for my candidacy. As my father used to say, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” And, as my neighbors know, that’s just the way I am.

That brings me to the media. Within minutes of returning to my office after filing, I was notified that there was a family member on the phone. This family member turned out to be a local reporter. He got his story. If that’s what it takes to keep his job, I won’t say disparaging things about him. I just didn’t know that “freedom of the press” includes this type of behavior. Furthermore, given the political climate of City Hall these days, with everyone looking for something wrong and everyone running scared, I have refused to discuss my campaign during business hours. Evening hours are spent strategizing and calling constituents. After all, I am running for office and our campaign is only one week old. We’ve needed a minute to figure out our priorities. I understand the media’s frustration with my slow response. I hope they now understand what I meant by respect. We all have jobs to do, and I look forward to a solid relationship with the media.

I am learning how the media works, and they are learning about what works with me. I entered this race because of my 35-year commitment to this community and my track record for hard work, integrity and getting things done. I am determined to ensure there is a balance between progress and quality of life in this community.

Whether it is the 35W discussions, airport noise, or racial profiling, I am prepared to fight for my neighbors to ensure that we are allowed to live in our community with dignity. I know they share these concerns, and I am optimistic they will see me as the best candidate and the next council member from the 8th Ward.

Thank you.


Vickie Brock was an aide to former City Council Member Brian Herron. She is now running for City Council. Send comments to [email protected]

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