Candidates square off in Ward 2 debate

Cam Gordon and Allen Aigbogun answered questions and debated issues Thursday in Murphy Hall.

Robert Downs

Philosophical rifts between Ward 2 city council candidates became clear Thursday night, when they took part in The Minnesota DailyâÄôs inaugural city council debate. Incumbent Green Party candidate Cam Gordon and Allen Aigbogun âÄî running as an independent but endorsed by the Republican Party of Minnesota âÄî disagreed about the role of government in Minneapolis. Throughout the debates, hosted in Murphy Hall, Aigbogun frequently voiced his views that Minneapolis could be a more vibrant, growing city if the government would take a more hands-off role in commerce. âÄúThe biggest thing we can do is just let the Minneapolis economy grow, just get out of the way and let it grow the way it would grow if we let the competition âĦ have free reign,âÄù Aigbogun said. He said the government should loosen its grasp on the economy, which he likened to a living organism. Gordon, on the other hand, said that government can make sure businesses behave appropriately and fairly. He cited unregulated business and lending as a contributor to the current economic recession. Aigbogun also questioned the need for licenses required to rent housing, a tedious process, he said, which discourages landlords from participating, which in turn makes finding student housing more difficult. Gordon said he supports a balance between rented and owned property, catering to the kinds of individuals living in the city. He disagreed with AigbogunâÄôs idea to deregulate renting because he said such licenses keep rental properties safe for residents. While the role of the city government in business was a major source of tension, candidates for Ward 2 agreed on several points throughout the debate. Both candidates support an audit of the city and transparency in spending habits. They also agreed that the cityâÄôs continuous increase in property taxes is not a viable way to finance city operations. Gordon and Aigbogun also united in opposition to the University of MinnesotaâÄôs attempt to obtain ordinance-making power because University officials are not elected. Aigbogun, who is campaigning for the first time, said he was glad a debate was held on campus because he thinks itâÄôs important to get students involved and educated so they will vote. Each candidate had one minute to answer questions, and for each topic were given two minutes to discuss afterwards. Both candidates said they wished they would have had more time for some of the topics. âÄúI could have used some more time. There was a couple times we were getting into differences in terms of the role of government in business and there was an opportunity to get into detail in some of the questions in the ward,âÄù Gordon said. Aigbogun said he thinks the way he and Gordon view this issue is the most defined difference between them, but it was just coming out at the end. The Daily will be hosting another debate Thursday for Ward 3, in which four candidates will be participating. Ward 3 incumbent candidate Diane Hofstede , endorsed by the Minnesota DFL Party , attended ThursdayâÄôs debates. She said the debates will be an opportunity to reach her constituency. Hofstede will take part in ThursdayâÄôs debate, along with challengers Allen Kathir, DFL, Republican Jeffrey Cobia and Melissa Hill of the Civil Disobedience party. ThursdayâÄôs debates will be in Murphy Hall, room 130, beginning at 7:00 p.m.