Former Democratic Speaker of the House Tip O’Neil, a man of maxims, coined the political rule “all politics is local.” What O’Neil was saying is that elected officials should concentrate on representing and delivering for their constituencies. In the 2nd Ward, the district containing the University, Minneapolis City Council member Paul Zerby would be wise to heed O’Neil’s advice.
Over the last year Zerby has consistently alienated his largest constituency, the University student body, by flying in the face of what students want on a number of issues.
Recently, Zerby launched an assault on family-owned establishments in the Dinkytown and Stadium Village neighborhoods. If Zerby had his way, Stub and Herb’s, a campus landmark, would be shut down, and Sue Jeffers, the owner of the family establishment, would be a pauper.
Furthermore, Zerby opposed extending bar times until 2 a.m., and he has been far from a supporter of establishing a football stadium for the University on campus.
However, Zerby’s political downfall might come from his treasonous stance on historical preservation. Zerby has constantly rebuked students’ attempts to save the greek community and has sided with a very, very small but vocal minority on this issue. Zerby has underestimated how organized greeks can be, which will come to haunt him in a re-election attempt.
It is unlikely that Zerby will read this piece, given his indifference about the University community, but what he needs to realize is that there is a difference between ignoring a constituency and assaulting one. It is true that students do not have the highest voter turnout, but by angering them and motivating them, that is likely to change.
By siding with a small yet vocal minority and angering a potentially very active majority, Zerby might have sealed his political fate. Unless Zerby changes his ways, his first term will be his last.
Ryan Johnson is a political science senior and a member of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity. Send comments to [email protected]