With much attention focused on the Democratic City Council candidates, Diane Hofstede and Jacob Frey, a third candidate is carving her own niche in Ward 3.
Kristina Gronquist, the Green Party-endorsed candidate, is running a quiet but steady campaign, focusing on issues like Dinkytown development and police profiling.
The University of Minnesota graduate and lifelong Minneapolis resident currently lives in the northeast part of the city with her 22-year-old daughter and 94-year-old father, where she balances running a campaign and working full time at the East Side Food Cooperative.
In some ways, Gronquist’s Green Party affiliation makes campaigning more difficult.
The party wants to “take the money out of politics,” Gronquist said, so candidates can only accept up to $300 from individuals and can’t take any money from corporations.
Ward 3 is traditionally a Democratic-favoring area, but Gronquist believes her involvement and name recognition give her a shot at winning.
“It’s a track record of activism, and that counts for something,” she said.
University political science professor Larry Jacobs said Minneapolis and Duluth are both “hot spots” for third party candidates.
“Minneapolis is ground zero for third party politics, and if the Green Party can win anywhere in Minnesota, it’s in Minneapolis or Duluth,” he said “I wouldn’t rule her out.”
Gronquist says the Green Party is a “natural fit” for students because it’s progressive and environmentally conscious.
“It’s a party that’s about the future,” she said. “I don’t know why any student wouldn’t vote Green.”
Gronquist isn’t the only Green Party-endorsed candidate running for City Council. The party has endorsed four other candidates, including Ward 2 incumbent Cam Gordon, who represents the east side of the University campus.
The resources available to DFL-endorsed candidate Frey are important, Jacobs said, but third party candidates have a chance at winning.
“In general, it’s an uphill battle,” he said. “But it’s not out of the question.”
A new take on housing
Gronquist’s perspective as a University graduate makes her no stranger to Dinkytown.
With Dinkytown’s recent development boom, Gronquist said the area needs to have a balance between old and new.
“Dinkytown can’t stay frozen,” she said, adding that she understands development is important for increasing the tax base.
Gronquist said she worries about a “glut” of single-use development around the University that could replace Dinkytown’s charm and history.
“Obviously it’s not local businesses that are being supported in this process,” she said.
To increase the amount of affordable housing in University-area neighborhoods and elsewhere in Minneapolis, Gronquist wants to make carriage houses legal again in the city.
Carriage houses, also known as coach houses, are smaller houses on the same property as a larger house, typically made from converted garages or sheds.
“They can be quite charming,” Gronquist said.
Minneapolis currently outlaws them, but Gronquist said the city is considering her proposal to change that.
Gronquist said she also wants to research the area’s housing needs to understand how to best serve residents.
A change in focus
Gronquist ran for City Council Ward 1 twice in the 1980s, campaigning largely on tenants’ rights issues.
This time around, her problems with the new Vikings stadium approval process were a primary catalyst in deciding to run.
She called the stadium “unnecessary” and said it should have been put to a vote so citizens could’ve approved its building and funding methods.
“I can’t think of anything less sustainable than blowing up a big concrete stadium,” she said.
But on May 10, her platform shifted when her friend Terrance Franklin was shot and killed by Minneapolis police.
Gronquist believes Franklin’s death is an instance of police misconduct and racial profiling, issues on which she is now focusing her campaign.
“The police should have never ever let it escalate to that point,” she said. “They can take terrorists alive … they couldn’t take Terrance alive.”
She said the African American community in Minneapolis feels “under siege.” If elected, Gronquist wants to set up an independent investigative board to look into controversial cases like Franklin’s death.
“We can’t have the police investigating themselves,” she said.
The Police Officers Federation has endorsed incumbent Hofstede, and Gronquist said this is part of the problem, adding that she thinks the endorsement quiets Hofstede on issues of police misconduct.
Gronquist has organized protests with the Justice for Terrance Franklin campaign.
“Terrance is still gone, he’s still gone,” she said. “And the police officers aren’t held accountable.”
For more on what students think of Gronquist’s campaign, pick up Wednesday’s Minnesota Daily.