Protect the Earth candidate pledges environmental action

Liz Kohman

Editor’s note: This profile is part of The Minnesota Daily’s continuing coverage of Minneapolis’ mayoral candidates.

The decor in Leslie Davis’ campaign headquarters reflects the environmental issues important to his campaign.

The former bar on the corner of Lyndale and Lowry where Davis set up camp is filled with environmental posters, newspaper clippings about Earth Protectors – Davis’ environmental organization – and protest signs about animal rights issues.

Davis has followed Minnesota politics since moving to the state in 1962 and plans to use the Minneapolis mayor position as a platform to expand the causes he has advocated for 19 years as founder of Earth Protectors.

Davis said the job of mayor requires two things: creating a budget and a vision for the city.

Davis said his budget would have less fat than the current one. His vision is a city where citizens respect each other, healthy behaviors and education prevent crime, and neighbors cooperate, he said.

Besides his experiences in community activism with Earth Protectors, Davis said raising a family, spending two years in the U.S. Army, five years working in his father’s New York clothing factory and 20 years working in marketing and trend analysis in the women’s clothing industry have provided him with the skills he needs to be mayor.

Stopping the lead poisoning of children tops Davis’ agenda.

Davis said lead poisoning in the inner city of Minneapolis causes brain damage in children. He said the issue is ignored because it happens in low-income areas and it’s expensive to clean up.

“We know where the lead is, we know what the problem is, and we would go house by house, block by block and begin the lead abatement efforts,” Davis said. “We would train a lot of the people we are now imprisoning to do the lead abatement.”

The lead cleanup program is one example of Davis’ crime prevention initiative.

His plan for crime prevention includes offering alternatives to criminal activity through education, training and mentoring programs and job placement services.

Davis said job training programs are not effective without added support from a mentor. He would create a professional mentoring department to help people who have been through training.

Davis said this department might replace the police department or even be the police department.

“I don’t want police going around with leather gloves and sunglasses on,” Davis said, arguing he doesn’t want police intimidating citizens.

He added police should receive awards for keeping peaceful beats and patrol in pairs on the street instead of in cars.

Davis plans to fund his programs with grants, trimming fat from the current budget and the money saved from jailing fewer criminals.

Davis is also concerned with cancer-causing air pollution in downtown Minneapolis.

He said cars, trucks and buses stalled in traffic downtown create the pollution. He supports using more energy-efficient vehicles to reduce pollution.

Davis wants Minneapolis to follow Seattle’s example and support the Kyoto protocol – an international treaty limiting the amount of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere.

Davis would like to implement energy conservation projects to increase efficiency in businesses and homes. He said this would save people money in the long run and create more jobs.

Although Davis has history as an environmental activist in the community, the Sierra Club chose to endorse mayoral candidate R.T. Rybak.

Scott Elkins, the state director of the Sierra Club, said Davis was not endorsed because he does not have a good shot at winning the election.

Davis has run for many different offices and has already announced a gubernatorial campaign for 2002.

Davis said he would be a good mayor because he is not a part of the political machine like other candidates, and he will be proactive.

“People will not support a big, overweight bureaucracy,” Davis said. “We’re going to work hard, we’re going to be lean and we’re going to do things for the people.”