Minneapolis mayoral candidates answer your questions here!


The Minneapolis mayoral race is full and colorful, and Twin Cities Daily Planet is offering you an opportunity to interact with the candidates in a direct and unique way.  We sent out email invitations asking the candidates to supply a brief bio, and answer the following question: “What would be your top three priorities as mayor of Minneapolis?”

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 it’s received. Please note that while all candidates registered as mayoral candidates are welcome to participate, we were only able to send invitations to candidates who had valid email addresses listed. If you are a candidate running for mayor and you did not receive an email invite, please contact paigeelliott@tcdailyplanet.net or editor@tcdailyplanet.net so that we can include you. The more the merrier!

Merrill Anderson:
Born raised, MPLS
Minnehaha Academy
Augsburg  ( briefly )
Army Language School  ( Chinese )
ASA/NSA  (  Interrogation /Field Communications )
Chinese Lutheran Seminary  ( monitered )
Honeywell  ( Supply Chain  Mgmt. )
Alexander Hamilton
Antioch Communiversity  ( Criminal Justice & Non Profit Mgmt. )
Coldwell Banker Real Estate
Army Security Agency
Merrill Anderson Associates  (  Management/Publlic Relations  )
Coordinator, Governors Internships
Volunteer Coordinator, MNDOC
Merrill Anderson’s Top Three Priorities: 
I strongly voice my concern over the fact that Minnesota, as it has the last few years, again shows the highest ACT scores in the nation. Yet, even with that high level of performance statewide, our Minneapolis system shows clusters of low performing students with concentrations on the near north and near south sides of the city. Part of this problem is systemic as I believe the educators assume in advance that these will be low performing students and work ( or do not work ) with them accordingly. That, combined with a peer pressure from others who disdain education as a tool of the elite combines to bring these young people down. Part of our difficulty is in providing courses ( and practicums ) of interest to this population….in New York, they have had good success in bringing back vocational and mechanical arts training, even architectural and engineering classes ( both boys and girls ). We once had a nationally recognized vocational school in this city, but stupidly closed it, whilce also taking shop classes out of our High School curriculum. I believe we need to return practical subjects to the system. I also believe the Mayors office should have a two person representation on the School Board to coordinate city and school district resources in favor of students and families.
City Development /Job Creation depend on the aura presented to businesses/investors. Population supporting businesses depends on whether existing/future residents see the city as a safe and hospitable place. I want us to be an attractive and exciting business/ industrial and residential venue for everyone from the lemonade stand to the major company, from the student to the corporate officer.. We have a unique mix of highly intelligent workers, numerous small business startups and the highest per capita location of Fortune 500 companies in the country.  .I believe I can help polish up our aura, knit together resources and bring in the jobs.
In the not distant past, Minneapolis Police and Fire were highly rated nationally and internationally, recognized among their peers and among the public as highly professional and effective organizations.  I believe we can regain that reality and that recognition.  One of the major obstacles to besst service from both organizations is that, despite a 1.2 billion dollar budget, the city has, for undefinable reasons, run staffing levels below generally accepted recommendations, baed on  population density, street trangulation and building  heights.
Street cops who feel they do not have sufficient backup and fireman who do not have manpower to have their back in dangerous fire scenarios are going to perform their duties in ways that do not always put the public interest paramount.  We need to release the negative pressures on the individual police and firemen by bringing both to full staffing levels as quickly as possible.   Serious heart to heart conversation by the Mayor and his administrators with the personnel about attitudinal adjustment is probably also in order, but that should be balnced by equally frank discussions about personal responsibility with the serviced communities.

Troy B photoTroy Benjegerdes: Troy grew up on a farm in Manly, Iowa. He went to college at Iowa State University, built a solar car, and also did a study on grid-scale energy storage. After moving to Minneapolis, he testified at hearings about the Xcel transmission line, and worked on selling community solar projects.

Troy Benjegerdes’ Top Priorities: My top three priorities are:
to promote local food, local energy, and local currency.

I’ll start with local food. It’s critical to our economic and individual health that we have good food available to everyone across the city. This starts with programs to promote urban farming, and making sure that farmers have the opportunity and the ability to own the land they farm.

The local currency part is a bit on the wonkish-fringe, but I believe it really goes to the heart of doing something practical and achievable about rising global income inequality. The rich are getting richer, and any voice speaking about taxing the rich is drowned out with more money flowing into dirty politics.

My top priority is to provide everyone in this city with a choice, and a voice in where the energy that we will pay billions of dollars for over the next 30 years comes from. Right now the only voice being heard is of the incumbent utilities. That voice says something like this “Don’t rock the boat, business as usual is safe, and anything outside of giving us more money might make the lights go out”

I’ve been using my voice to speak about how renewable energy can supply all the energy we need in the midwest. It’s time to use your voice, and make a choice to vote for me for number three on ranked-choice voting, and remind big money it’s your voice, and your choice.


Christopher Clark's photoChristopher Clark: My name is Christopher Clark. I am running for office because it is my right as an American citizen. I was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska. Moved here in late 1999. Intrigued by MN politics with a former wrestler getting elected governor and the whole concept of charter schools intrigued me.
Graduated from University of Nebraska at Omaha earlier in 1999. A bachelor of Fine Arts emphasizing in pottery and sculpture. I am a leader, not a follower. MN politics has intrigued me ever since. I’ve been with my partner for past 13 years. Next year, we’re tying the knot due to fair- minded individuals voting for equality in 2012. Thank you!!!
Christopher Clark’s Top Three Priorities: Once I get elected into office, I want to cut costs. Reduce number of council members to eleven. Suggest term limits and allow referendum by public. Cut salaries of council and mayor by 15%. Use those tax dollars for basic services: police, fire, clean air and water services. Create a program identical to NRP, neighborhood revitalization program for services listed above. Avoid disasters such as city wide wi-fi, photo cop program unconstitutional by MN Supreme Court, no sport stadiums unless voted on first, no more $400 a month car allowance for council or anything resembling Block E in terms of wasted tax dollars.
 Secondly, the mayor should select all school board members. Hasn’t been accountabilty with typical school elections being staggered every few years. We’re letting down our city and its children. Put kids first, not teacher unions.

 Finally, attract new companies and start=up businesses by getting rid of all the red tape bureacy bullshit. City should give out same “alternative finance program” loans to start-ups as they have been doing for select few since April 2007. No increase in city payroll tax and/or get rid of income tax.


Dan Cohen

Dan Cohen: Currently: Minneapolis Planning Commissioner, Minneapolis Charter Commissioner. Formerly: President, Minneapolis City Council, Minneapolis Charter Commission. Graduate, Blake School, Stanford University (B.A.) Harvard Law School (J.D.) Author, 20 books, including Undefeated, a biography of Hubert Humphrey.

Dan Cohen’s  top three priorities: First, I would end the Viking Stadium deal. It is a disaster. The people must have a vote, if the financial responsibility is going to land on our shoulders. Second, I will focus on bringing business and jobs to Minneapolis, whether through a year-round tourist attraction like a downtown casino, or by other means. And third, I will work to lower property taxes. The key to lowering property taxes is cutting foolish and unnecessary spending and vigorously pursuing a jobs policy that will spread the cost of government over a growing population. My overall priority as Mayor would be to serve the citizens of this great city. To find out more about my campaign and my vision for Minneapolis, visit DanCohenForMayor.com.


Bob Fine pictureBob Fine: I’m a life-long Minneapolis resident, graduate of Southwest HS and University of Minnesota. With my background in law and real estate, I’ve been appointed and elected to several boards and commissions over the last 30 years. Currently, I serve on the Park Board and the Board of Estimate and Taxation.

Bob Fine’s Top Three Priorities: I’ll AUDIT EACH CITY DEPARTMENT in order to streamline operations and ensure our government runs more efficiently. During my time on the Board of Estimate and Taxation, I’ve witnessed inefficient spending and I believe the government can run more effectively without compromising critical services, such as police and fire. In addition, we shouldn’t be incurring the luxury of a new streetcar line on Nicollet Avenue, costing up to $200 million, when we have so many existing infrastructure needs.

With savings accomplished by streamlining government and by setting the right priorities for spending, I aim to REDUCE PROPERTY TAXES BY 5%. This year, Minneapolis received an increase in Local Government Aid and I want to return these funds to taxpayers. We must make Minneapolis an affordable place to live and from my 16 years on the Park Board, I know how to deliver effective government services without excessive taxation.  I’ve done it for the parks and I can do it for the whole city. 

Finally, I’ll RECRUIT MORE BUSINESS to Minneapolis with the goal of INCREASING THE NUMBER OF JOB OPPORTUNITIES for residents. As mayor, I’ll work to make Minneapolis friendlier to entrepreneurs wanting to start small businesses. I’ll specifically focus attention on high unemployment areas, like the North side, by encouraging business to develop in these neighborhoods, creating better local jobs and preserving vibrant communities. I’ll also encourage businesses to collaborate with nonprofit job training organizations, such as Step-Up, to offer more jobs for youth.


Greg Iverson

Greg Iverson:  Age – 68  Occupation – Retired   Family – Single   Neighborhood – Nokomis East Experience – Public service my whole life: U.S. Air  Force 1967-71, In Vietnam 1969-70, Decorated for my service there.  Public school teacher 1973-86,  MnDot 1988- 2006.   greggiverson@ gmail.com  Party DFL.  

Greg Iverson’s Top Three Priorities: Lower Taxes—Reduce Crime–Work on improving Minneapolis Schools


Bill KahnBill Kahn: Born and raised in Los Angeles, CA, but exposed almost yearly to Minneapolis through my mother, who was raised here. I moved here in 1994.

I’m a mechanic, a cabbie, worked as a state clerk & courier for the Minnesota State Lottery, in customer service for Target when they took over the old Rivertown Trading Company, in data entry for a litigation support company, and a whole lot of volunteer work here and there. I worked until I couldn’t and now I’m running to be the last mayor of Minneapolis.

 Bill Kahn’s top three priorities: My top three priorities for Minneapolis are getting rid of the office of mayor, reducing wards and council folks representing them to five, and having eight more at large council seats to make up a new thirteen member council.  For more info visit: http://www.lastminneapolismayor.org


Doug Mann: New Progressive Alliance endorsed. Got 31,300 votes as citywide school board candidate in 2012. Past experience: Parents Union director and member of Minneapolis NAACP education advocacy and executive committees. Licensed Practical Nurse. Associate in Arts degree, Practical Nursing Diploma, Legal-Medical Consultant certification. Languages: French, German, Greek, Italian, Spanish, Swedish.

Doug Mann’s Top Three Priorities

1) Eliminate racial gaps in access to education, employment, and housing. Empower and adequately fund the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department to detect and prosecute those engaged in covert, illegal discrimination in employment and housing. Advocate steps to end systemic racial discrimination within the public schools without any loss of teacher job protections, and oppose the agenda of corporate-style school reforms and charter-ization, a labor-relations agenda masquerading as a school reform agenda supported by both Democratic and Republican politicians in Minneapolis.

2) Economic development / combatting poverty: I filed a lawsuit, asking a District Court judge to order the Minneapolis City Council to refer approval of the Vikings stadium deal to voters in a referendum. The judge has not yet issued a decision. Raise the Minimum wage in Minneapolis to $15 per hour, which would be comparable in buying power to the federal minimum wage in 1974. Make housing affordable to everyone, stop home foreclosures, and reduce stock of bank-owned, vacant housing. The City should impose special assessments on vacant, bank-owned properties, and use its power of eminent domain to buy bank-owned properties at fair market value, resell to foreclosed homeowners.

3) Ecology: Move toward a zero-waste, zero-burn trash recycling program. Promote solar and wind power. Work toward municipal ownership of power companies. Higher density housing projects should be linked to increased green space. Promote urban agriculture with an emphasis on organic gardening methods


CJ Sparrow

CJ Sparrow: I have been a Minneapolis resident since January 16, 1973, and a resident of Minnesota all my life.  I have been involved in politics most of my life as well.  Shortly after arriving in Minneapolis I began working with the Twin Cities Food Coop movement.  Since October 2011 I have been involved in the Occupy movement.  I am however not endorsed by anyone at this time and speak only for myself.

CJ Sparrow’s Priorities: My priorities as Mayor of Minneapolis would be to offer cooperative, communal, co housing, and other forms of intentional communities as an option for the residents of Minneapolis, especially those residents that do not have adequate housing now.  I would use the process of eminent domain to buy up the over 500 foreclosed and vacant homes that are now considered nuisance properties and use them to house Minneapolis residents starting with the more vulnerable populations such as homeless teens, homeless mentally ill and homeless senior citizens. I would also address the problems of unemployment and under employment by forming collective business that would be developed based on the skills and interests of the participants. The city, hopefully with the support of the county, state and federal government would provide the initial capital which would include money for training and supervising until the employees could hopefully be trained to do all of the tasks required. I would like to see both the housing and businesses be managed and eventually owned by the participants and residents that are involved in them to the extent possible.  All of these projects would be started on a small scale by people that are interested and will only be expanded upon if and when they have demonstrated their merits in these small experiments.

I think the greatest problem facing the world and therefore Minneapolis is global warming.  This is only one of many reasons why I support Bob “Again” Carney’s Transit Revolution. It will substantially reduce the amount of carbon emitted and will cost much less than any of the heretofore proposed plans.  See the rest of my platform at occupirate.blogspot.com


Cam Winton: Cam Winton is fiscally responsible, socially inclusive, and offering fresh eyes in City Hall. He’s a husband, father, homeowner, wind-turbine businessman, attorney, and public-school graduate. Cam and his co-workers built their wind turbine maintenance company to have 120 high-skilled jobs. All employees have shared in the benefits.

 Cam Winton’s Top Priorities:

  • Bring fresh eyes to City Hall, drawing on my experience as business-builder, father, husband, homeowner, and advocate for those in need.
  • Cut red tape to enable job growth, the same way my co-workers and I built our wind-turbine maintenance company.
  • Keep lid on property taxes by consolidating back offices of City Hall and Hennepin County and ending wasteful spending (for example, I oppose streetcar).
  • Draw on private-sector experience delivering wind-turbine maintenance services to improve delivery of essential City services like police, fire, road paving, and road plowing.
  • Implement education reform to make our public schools a world-class engine of opportunity for all children, not just some. I support mayoral appointments to the school board to push for those education-reform policies.  
  • Prioritize hiring additional well-disciplined police trained in community policing strategies like bicycle patrols.
  • Enhance transit system through improvements to bus lines (heated bus enclosures with pay machines & digital arrival-time signs), re-route of Southwest Light Rail through Uptown (rather than through the woods), more bike lanes (I’m case-by-case on cycletracks), and improvements for pedestrian safety.  
  • I opposed the stadium deal. I understand the pro-stadium arguments, but there are higher priorities for how to spend $675 million (cost to city when financing costs included). If state/team come asking for more money, say no!

Christopher Robin Zimmerman

Christopher Robin Zimmerman: I’m a technical writer for a software company.  I’m great at managing data, not as good at managing people, but I’m asking you to elect me to manage the city.  The main reason I decided to run is I just didn’t trust any of these other guys.

First, let me invite you visit http://facebook.com/CRZforMayor and see for yourself how I stack up against the other 34 candidates.  (I’m also not
too proud to beg for a “Like” while you’re there!)  You can also ask me any direct question about any issue you’re interested in because I have a hunch that my top three issues in this answer may not all intersect with YOUR top issues.  

Christopher Robin Zimmerman’s top three priorities:  My top three issues are making every piece of public data collected by our government open and available, ensuring the next WiFi contract is a much better deal for Minneapolis than the last one is, and cancelling Minneapolis taxpayers’ participation in the stadium boondoggle unless and until it passes a vote by the people in accordance with the provisions of our City Charter.

I know that it is nearly impossible to stand out in this crowd if you’re not one of the chosen few, a crony of previous administrations or a media darling, (whether they deign to cover you because thy have decided you would best serve their interests OR thanks to your awesome viral video which they expect nobody will take seriously but will definitely distract you from thinking seriously for a while) but, if you find you’re like me and all the “top tier” candidates (or even all politicians in general) set off your bullshit detector… and you’d like to find an alternative to either support or just for casting a protest vote, I hope you’ll consider me.


Waiting for answers from: 

  • Mark Anderson (Simplify Government)
  • Mark Andrew (DFL)
  • Neal Baxter (Independent)
  • Alicia Bennett (DFL)
  • Edmund Bruyere (Legacy-Next Generation)
  • Bob Carney (Demand Transit Revolution)
  • Jackie Cherryhomes (DFL)
  • James Everett (Green)
  • Cyd Gorman (Police Reform)
  • Mike Gould (DFL)
  • Kurtis Hanna (Pirate Party)
  • John Hartwig (Independent)
  • Betsy Hodges (DFL)
  • Jaymie Kelly (Stop Foreclosures Now)
  • Tony Lane (Socialist Workers Party)
  • Abdul Rahaman (We the people…)
  • Joshua Rea (End Homelessness Now)
  • Don Samuels (DFL)
  • Ole Savior (Republican)
  • Gary Schiff (withdrew, endorsing Betsy Hodges)
  • James Stroud Jr. (The people’s choice)
  • Jim Thomas (DFL)  (withdrew, endorsing Mark Andrew)
  • Jeffrey Wagner (DFL)
  • John Wilson (Lauraist Communist)
  • Stephanie Woodruff (DFL)
  • Rahn Workcuff (Independent)

Reporting for this article supported in part by Bush Foundation.