City elections will bring new blood

Four City Council seats are completely open, and many incumbents are in tight races.

City elections will bring new blood

Alma Provone

Election Day will bring big changes to Minneapolis’ city government, including the first new mayor in more than a decade and many new faces on City Council.

Four of the City Council’s 13 seats are completely open to new members, and seven of the remaining nine are highly contested, which could mean a shift in the council’s priorities and cooperation after the Nov. 5 elections.

University of Minnesota political science professor Larry Jacobs said next month’s elections will be an “incredible time” in Minneapolis politics.

“Change is coming,” he said. “I anticipate a period of conflict.”

Ward 3 Councilwoman Diane Hofstede, who represents the Dinkytown and Marcy-Holmes areas, said the possible turnover could shift priorities and change policy on city issues.

“I think a large turnover could mean a loss of experience and a loss of momentum,” she said. “It’s important for incumbents to return for consistency’s sake.”

Hofstede didn’t win her party’s endorsement last spring, when the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party chose challenger Jacob Frey instead.

Councilwoman Elizabeth Glidden is running unopposed for south Minneapolis’ Ward 8 seat, to which she was first elected in 2005.

She said adding multiple freshman members would change the City Council’s system of evaluating city policies and issues.

“The combination of a new mayor and significant turnover in council leadership will be an adjustment,” she said. “This last council had a very collegial working relationship, and I think it’s going to be important for us to aim for that in this new council.”

Jacobs said he predicts some discomfort when the new council takes office.

“Incumbents will be trying to socialize their new colleagues, but these are going to be new political perspectives and agendas,” he said. “It may take some time to get those working relationships going.”

Hofstede said having lots of new people on the council could potentially change how they work together.

“I don’t know how things may change. I have no idea,” she said.

Councilman Gary Schiff isn’t running for reelection to his Ward 9 council seat, which covers south Minneapolis neighborhoods like Corcoran and Longfellow, leaving it open to a pool of newcomers.

Gregory McDonald is one of six candidates vying for Schiff’s seat and said he’s excited by the idea of fresh faces joining the council, as they may bring different concerns to the table.

McDonald ran for a spot on City Council last year and didn’t win.

“I’m trying to do my share as a citizen,” he said.

Jacobs said this next City Council will represent great political change, regardless of who is elected, because of the many changes facing Minneapolis.

He said issues like transportation and development around the Vikings stadium, as well as the increasing political involvement of East African immigrants, could dramatically transform the city’s political agenda.

“This past council has stood out for effectiveness, and as [Mayor R.T. Rybak] and many of his supporters on the council leave, we lose those working coalitions,” Jacobs said. “We’re going to see a period where the agenda of the past decade will be challenged.”