Incumbent Joan Campbell seeks 4th Minneapolis City Council term

Shira Kantor

Twelve years representing Minneapolis’ 2nd Ward hasn’t proven enough for City Council Member Joan Campbell – come November she hopes to find herself sitting behind the same desk in City Hall.

“I still am enjoying the job very much,” the 65-year-old Campbell said. “And there are a number of projects I would like to see to fruition.”

Some of Campbell’s main concerns for the 2nd Ward are making sure there is enough available affordable housing; seeing to the development of the cities unused or underused industrial properties, or brownfields; historic preservation; and neighborhood projects.

“Affordable housing would be number one,” Campbell said, citing Minneapolis’ near-zero percent vacancy rate.

Preservation of 640 units of affordable housing was one of Campbell’s first accomplishments as a newly elected council member in the early ’90s.

“I have a theory – and I think it’s probably a truth – that if you produce housing available for any income level, if you increase the supply, then that should (lower) overall rent rates.

“The whole Adam Smith theory of economics should play out,” she explained.

Commercial and industrial development downtown can aid affordable-housing efforts as well, Campbell said.

“One of the ways we can ensure that we have funds available for affordable housing is using tax increment financing for other developments,” she said.

Patricia Kelly, Campbell’s aide, said she agrees, and lauded Campbell’s efforts to run a fiscally responsible city, including her maintenance of Minneapolis’ triple-A credit rating.

She said Campbell is financially responsible yet takes a fundamentally progressive stance regarding the spending of city money.

“A lot of people who are financially responsible are also fiscally conservative,” Kelly said.

“She believes we should spend money to help people,” Kelly said. “That could be to support living wage jobs, to do job creation, or for things like the police Civilian Review Authority or our civil rights department.”

“Those kinds of things are city services that lots of people see as optional but she sees as essential in terms of addressing and speaking to the rights and opportunities afforded to our citizens,” Kelly added.

Cam Gordon, one of Campbell’s opponents in the upcoming election, said the opposite is true: He thinks the City Council is hearing very few groups’ concerns.

“Sometimes it seems like the largest corporations and the most favorite developers get the ear and … that’s who’s making decisions for the city,” Gordon said.

He added that he thinks Campbell has worked hard to serve the community, but that it’s time for new representation.

“I think there must be a way to honor what she’s given and she’s offered and still make way for change,” he said.

Change is inevitable this fall for the City Council. Four council members are leaving and another four have been around for, at most, one term. That is one of the main reasons Campbell is seeking reelection.

“I think there’s going to be a real need for experience,” Campbell said.