Farheen Hakeem, who is challenging her old mayoral campaign nemesis, Peter McLaughlin for his seat on the Hennepin County Board, testified last night against the county’s proposed stadium tax and pointedly attacked McLaughlin in her remarks for not representing his constituents on this issue. I talked with Hakeem after her testimony and learned that she’s not just pounding on the stadium issue and the smoking ban (which McLaughlin opposed) in her doorknocking campaign; she’s also focusing on child protection, education, and foster care. “We need some reform,” she said. “There’s a lot of red tape, a lot of bureaucracy” that serves to frustrate people.
Hakeem said she’s doorknocked all of wards 2 and 9 and half of Ward 8, and she’s been surprised at the level of dissatisfaction she’s found. “I’ve only found seven people supporting Peter,” she said. Asked whether that translates into a groundswell of support for her, Hakeem demurred, admitting that most voters weren’t even aware of the election.
Still, most of the votes she’s talked to remember her from her mayoral run last year, in which she garnered a remarkable 14 percent of the vote in the primary. So, she’s not faced with the same challenges to gain name recognition. She said her base of support is coming from voters who are supporting Keith Ellison in CD5 and Becky Lourey for governor. She’s also getting a surprising amount of support from those who voted for R.T. Rybak last year.
Hakeem, McLaughlin, and Jan Nye–an anti-stadium activist who was talked into running by anti-stadium forces in order to force a primary–will participate in a debate September 15 from 6 – 7:30 p.m. at the Brian Coyle Center.