Green Party’s Gordon pitches vision for city transit system

Justin Ware

Providing Minneapolis with free public transportation headed Friday’s discussion between Cam Gordon, Green Party candidate for the 2nd Ward of Minneapolis’ City Council, and University students.

“I want to build a more sustainable transportation system,” Gordon said.

Seward and Riverside neighborhoods make up the bulk of the 2nd Ward, where DFL-endorsed incumbent Joan Cambell has served for three terms.

Gordon’s transportation plans call for free public transportation or “fare-free zones” around Minneapolis. If the plan is implemented, buses and perhaps even light rail would be free in the city.

Eliminating the cost of transportation would promote tourism and help downtown businesses while also making it easier for students to battle bus and parking fares, Gordon said.

Other cities with large universities such as Syracuse, New York, have seen free public transport work well, the candidate said.

Gordon’s opponents are not so sure free transportation is an option.

“I don’t know that it is possible to run the whole thing free,” said Paul Zerby, a DFLer running independently for the 2nd Ward spot. “I doubt it is economically feasible right now.”

Zerby said the public transportation system is currently an affordable option for most of its users. He said the money could be better utilized to create more housing.

In addition to lowering transportation costs, Gordon’s campaign seeks to provide more liveable wages and increase affordable housing in the University area.

Gordon wants to see cooperation with the city, University and area landlords to lower the housing prices in and around the campuses.

“We need to work with (landlords), not butt heads with them,” Gordon said.

The candidate said he would like to see city subsidies to assist landlords so they can reduce rental rates.

Looking at models in other countries, Gordon said he believes cooperative or shared housing can work here to push down prices.

“I would like to see students participate as citizens, as activists,” Gordon said of the role students should play in government.

In addition to choosing candidates who focus more on education, students should tap into University-related resources such as alumni funds to support their causes, he said.

Gordon said he would trim other areas of the city budget to free funding for transportation and housing.

“I think the city has gotten itself into debt and it will be a struggle losing the debt load,” he said.

Gordon said the city has been saving surplus dollars and he would like to see that money used for programs that more directly help 2nd Ward constituents.

“The city has been saving for a rainy day,” Gordon said. “We need saved funds. We’re having a rainy day now.”

 

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