Do you have a burning question you want to ask the 12th Ward City Council candidates? Here’s your chance to get a closer look and engage the candidates in a direct and unique way. Twin Cities Daily Planet has invited all the candidates to participate in an online forum where you get to ask the questions. To get started, we’ve asked the candidates to supply a brief bio, and answer the following question:
“What would be your top three priorities as a member of the Minneapolis City Council?
Read the bios that they provided, and their answers to the question, posted below in alphabetical order, and then it’s your turn to ask a question. Post your questions as comments, either using Facebook or our in-house commenting system, and the candidates will give you their replies.
We will continue to update the site with the candidates’ information as we receive it from the candidates. Ben Gisselman was the first of the 12th Ward City Council candidates to reply. We are still waiting for responses from:
Ben Gisselman’s Bio: I am running as a member of the DFL. I live in Minneapolis’ Ericsson neighborhood with my wife, Deirdre. I am from Minneapolis and graduated from Minneapolis public schools. I work as an attorney and also run my own small business that provides restaurant training.
Ben Gisselman for Ward 12, 4501 31st Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55406, www.benforward12.org, www.facebook.com/benforward12, (612) 987-1770
Ben Gisselman’s Bio Top Three Priorities:
1. Ensure that we continue to be smart about spending within a reasonable City budget.
Smart spending means that we will not only be able to continue to provide residents with quality essential services they deserve and expect, but also that with remaining funds we can continue to support important things like our schools and the protection of the fantastic green spaces and waterways that draw people to this great part of Minneapolis.
2. Partner with development so that as higher density residential development increases in Ward 12, we move forward with aesthetically-pleasing projects that will stand the test of time and attract great residents to Ward 12. This effort will also include working with and attracting small businesses and jobs to the area so that we can continue working towards a more local and vibrant community.
3. Continue to work as hard as we can regarding the issue of airport noise. My predecessor, Councilwoman Sandy Colvin Roy, has worked very hard to be at the forefront on this issue and make all necessary efforts to ensure that Ward 12 residents are heard in this very important conversation. This is a difficult issue considering the different entities involved but in the end, we need to ensure that airport noise is dispersed over the City as opposed to running air traffic only over certain corridors which is unfair to those residents living in those areas considering the significant negative impact that airport noise can have.
Andrew Johnson: My name is Andrew Johnson and I am currently serving as the President of the Longfellow Community Council (LCC), the largest neighborhood organization in Minneapolis. I have been on the board for three terms and have experience as a leader, working with council members on projects in our neighborhood, and have the results to prove that I will best represent our community. I also own a small business, and through it, I perform IT services for an educational non-profit.
Andrew Johnson’s Top Three Priorities:
1. Education is my top priority. While there is a separate and independent school board for Minneapolis, the city council can improve the quality of our education system in many ways. My detailed plan includes increasing funding for restorative justice programs, creating apprenticeships for youth to learn skills after school and in the summer, utilizing Minneapolis’ Wi-Fi to provide free access to an education portal, increasing investments in remodels to reduce classroom size, and addressing the root causes of the achievement gap.
2. It is not easy doing business in Minneapolis, and that hurts us all. I’ve already helped to clean up a couple of antiquated ordinances that hold back businesses and hurt residents, and will continue to do so. By streamlining interactions with the city and providing support, we can encourage more entrepreneurship, which will lead to more employment opportunities and help to revitalize struggling Minneapolis neighborhoods. It will also help remove the pressure on increasing property taxes.
3. I am a national leader on the topic of open government, having pioneered the concept of a federal taxpayer receipt. Our city currently has a D- in spending transparency, which is unacceptable. I will work to put council member’s votes online and make it easy to see where taxpayer dollars are spent. I will leverage my technology background to improve communication with residents and make city government more responsive and engaging.
For full details of all my plans and past accomplishments, please visit AndrewMpls.com
Andrew Johnson for Minneapolis City Council, 3715 35th Ave S, Minneapolis MN 55406. www.andrewmpls.com, www.facebook.com/AndrewForMpls, 612-564-2639.
Chris Lautenschlager: I am the only party endorsed candidate in this race. A 20-year resident of this city, I live in Ericsson with my wife and our two children. I’m a two-time UMN alumnus, and have also earned a Master’s degree in Cultural Studies from the University of Rochester in upstate New York. Today, I serve on the board of directors at the Standish-Ericsson Neighborhood Association and the Minneapolis Television Network.
Chris Lautenschlager’s Top Three Priorites:
LIVABLE WAGES – Some of us are fortunate enough to be employed doing what we love, and are paid a wage that allows us to live comfortably. The sad fact is, this is often more the exception than the rule. Quite simply, Minneapolis needs more permanent jobs that pay a livable wage, and this city needs to do a better job of helping businesses that are willing to help their own employees.
AFFORDABLE HOUSING – Affordable housing remains a significant challenge for both our city and our state. On average, Minneapolis has an unhealthy vacancy rate of 2.2 – 2.9%, far less than the 5% considered to be healthy for any city. Our recent housing crash only exacerbated the problem, low supply of rentals have driven prices up, which in turn has made living much less affordable for people already struggling. I would redouble our commitments to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, and strongly support the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority.
ZERO-WASTE MPLS – Single sort recycling has dramatically increased recycling rates, yet I don’t believe the city should be satisfied with this recent success. Instead, we should aggressively pursue curbside organics recycling as soon as possible. This draws attention to another important concern, the future of garbage incineration at the Hennepin Energy Recovery Center (HERC). Despite our recycling efforts, Hennepin County does not want to maintain the same levels of incineration at the facility but wants to increase them. I oppose this.
For a more complete set of priorities, and more of my biography, please visit www.TwelfthWard.org
Chris Lautenschlager for City Council | 4545 31st Ave S, Mpls, MN 55406 | 612.280.5302
Reporting for this article supported in part by Bush Foundation.