DFL fields no candidate in Ward 2 race

The lack of a DFL candidate in the Ward 2 race forces voters to focus on issues, candidates say.

James Nord

The lack of a DFL candidate on the Minneapolis City Council Ward 2 ballot is a rare occurrence in Minneapolis politics, but it might have less of an effect than expected for this yearâÄôs two candidates. Allen Aigbogun, endorsed by the state Independence and GOP Parties, is challenging Green Party incumbent Cam Gordon for his seat on the council. The DFL did not formally endorse any candidate, but said they supported Gordon for re-election. âÄúWe, meaning the people that were at the precinct convention for the DFL, decided really that we didnâÄôt see any particular point in running somebody against Cam, who was doing a good job, so we didnâÄôt,âÄù former Ward 2 city council member Paul Zerby said. Views vary on how the DFL vacuum will affect the race, but Aigbogun and Zerby agree that in the city council, party affiliation rarely matters. Gordon said he sees the lack of a DFL candidate as a blessing. âÄúIt will force [voters] to look a little deeper,âÄù he said. âÄúThey just canâÄôt look and vote straight party line, because there wonâÄôt be the Democrat there, so theyâÄôll have to look at the other candidates and see who they think can represent them best,âÄù Gordon said. Both candidates have identified changes in the cityâÄôs revenue sources and expenditures they believe are necessary, but each advocates actions that reflect their opposing backgrounds. While Gordon said he plans to focus on sustainability issues, Aigbogun criticizes projects like the Target CenterâÄôs green roof when the funds could be used to support public services. Aigbogun believes lowering property taxes and cutting the budget are required for economic growth rather than government initiatives. âÄúObviously, job growth and job creation are the most important things we can do right now, but the way we tax is counterproductive to that,âÄù Aigbogun said. Gordon said he would use his style of economic stimulation, grants and government aid, to help the economy. âÄúWe have opportunities to influence and create incentives and we also have opportunities to regulate certain things,âÄù Gordon said. Much of the burden for funding city projects, and therefore a higher tax rate, falls on Minneapolis residents because the city is not receiving the full amount of aid from the state that it should be, Gordon said. Both candidates support a comprehensive audit of the cityâÄôs finances, but Aigbogun has been far more outspoken on the issue, making it central to a campaign that almost entirely focuses on fiscal reform. âÄúIâÄôd like to see us audit the cityâÄôs books and actually know, is there money weâÄôre losing through waste and âĦ if we solve that, would we fix our budget?âÄù Aigbogun said. âÄúWhen we donâÄôt have to worry about increasing taxes the way we do, weâÄôll be more business friendly âĦ and produce more jobs.âÄù Aigbogun and Gordon have some similarities, however. They plan to appeal to the large student communities in Ward 2 by illustrating how city government affects them. âÄúI want to make sure that students realize that if they have problems with landlords, or with police, or with water or garbage pickup âĦ they can come to their city council member,âÄù Gordon said. Aigbogun said he would fight against property tax increases that could raise rent for students in Ward 2. Both also have plans to target East African constituents that have been ignored before. Ward 2 includes the Cedar/Riverside neighborhood, Prospect Park, Seward, Como and the University proper. In the 2005 election, Gordon, endorsed by the Green party, beat DFLer Cara Letofsky 2,481 to 2,340. Gordon lost to DFL opponent Paul Zerby in 2001, but Zerby decided not to run when his term expired four years later.