Wards 2 and 3 share students’ issues, offer unique challenges

Candidates identified housing and economic development as major issues in both wards.

Cati Vanden Breul

Minneapolis City Council candidates are courting sizeable student populations in the 2nd and 3rd wards.

Although the University’s East Bank campus is in the 2nd Ward of Minneapolis, a considerable number of students live in the 3rd Ward in Dinkytown near Interstate 35W.

Because the 2nd Ward contains the University, it’s more densely populated with students. It includes the University’s West Bank, the superblock residence halls, and the Prospect Park East River Road neighborhood and Marcy-Holmes neighborhood. A large concentration of Somali and East-African immigrants also live in the 2nd Ward and near the Cedar-Riverside area.

Due to redistricting the city of Minneapolis in 2002, the area of campus surrounding Interstate 35W, including much of Dinkytown, is now part of the 3rd Ward. But much of the 3rd Ward remains separate from the University community, and lies in north Minneapolis, including the McKinley, Marshall Terrace and Columbia Park neighborhoods.

Although the populations are different, many of the issues City Council members encounter in the wards are similar.

City Council candidates in both the 2nd and 3rd wards said the need for safe neighborhoods, affordable housing and economic development are important to many Minneapolis residents.

But each ward has its specific challenges and opportunities for improvement, the candidates said.

Cam Gordon, Green Party candidate in the 2nd Ward, said transportation is especially important because of the large number of commuters to the University every day.

If the Hiawatha light rail extends to include a route from Minneapolis to St. Paul, it would go through the 2nd Ward, possibly right through the University’s campus, he said. The city has discussed options for routes on University Avenue or Washington Avenue, or a tunnel system that would run underneath campus.

“The Ward 2 City Council member has to watch that closely,” Gordon said.

Certain neighborhoods in the 2nd Ward also require special attention.

The Southeast Como neighborhood has seen an increase in burglaries and crime against 18- to 22-year-olds in the past few years, Gordon said.

“How are we going to make sure everyone is safe?” he said.

University speech and languages sophomore Jamie Schlies, who lives on Como Avenue Southeast, said she and her roommates sometimes feel scared to walk home at night because the area is not well-lighted.

The Minneapolis City Council agreed to install lights on 15th Avenue from Fifth Street to Como Avenue, but Schlies said she would like to see more lighting on Como Avenue.

“I know my roommates are kind of scared to walk that one block home because it’s so dark,” Schlies said.

Another issue unique to the 2nd Ward is the dense population of East-African immigrants, Gordon said.

“This leads to challenges and opportunities in helping people become successful in our community,” he said.

Diane Hofstede, 3rd Ward DFL candidate, said her ward is different because of the broad range of income levels it represents.

“There are students, people who live in multimillion dollar (condominiums) and people who are very low-income. There is such a wide difference between the residents in this ward,” she said.

Hofstede’s opponent, Green Party candidate Aaron Neumann, said the poverty and crime in North Minneapolis is alarming, and the city must make housing and development funding in the area a priority.

“It’s the community with the greatest need,” Neumann said. “It doesn’t make sense to me at all that we can talk about building stadiums for the wealthy and fans, and not fund our neighborhoods.”

Both candidates also said the 3rd Ward lacks sufficient bike paths. Hofstede said the northeast and southeast sides of Minneapolis have the fewest bikeways in the city.

Neumann said he’d like to see a bikeway from northeast Minneapolis to the University so students can commute safely.

Candidates in both wards said building relationships and respect between permanent residents and students is always an issue around campus.