Third Ward voters to fill Biernat’s seat in special election

MBy Jake Weyer

minneapolis voters will decide today on the next City Council member to represent the city’s north and northeast sections.

A special 3rd Ward election will fill a vacant seat left by former City Council member Joe Biernat, who resigned in November after being convicted on charges of aiding and abetting theft, mail fraud and making false statements to a federal agent.

The two candidates competing for the opening are DFLers Olin Moore and Don Samuels, both north Minneapolis residents.

Samuels, 53, emigrated to the United States from Jamaica to attend college 33 years ago. Since moving to Minneapolis, he has been involved in numerous neighborhood organizations.

Samuels said affordable and safe housing are two items he intends to focus on if elected. He also said he plans to look at and try to improve unemployment among black males in the ward.

“I will use my position as a bully pulpit to challenge the African-American middle class to move back in so that children can dream of more than basketball and drugs,” Samuels said. “It’s time for the black middle class to face the facts and stop living in a dreamland.”

The other candidate, Olin Moore, 32, said he hopes to bring more businesses to the area and to fight “for quality housing, whether it be renovating the old or building the new.”

Both Moore and Samuels said they hope University students living in the ward will participate in the election.

“Students should care about this election because City Council members can do a lot to make neighborhoods clean and safe,” Moore said.