While the Oct. 29 front-page treatment of the plight facing older workers (“Job hunt daunting for baby boomers”) was a step in the right direction, a more tangible concrete approach would be for the Star Tribune Editorial Board to throw its weight behind an effort to create legislation extending the unemployment compensation of those laid off after age 55. Like the taconite miners on the Iron Range who recently benefited from such a targeted extension, older workers also face more structural barriers to re-employment than do those job-seekers in younger workforce cohorts. By extending (and even making retroactive) benefits to jobless senior workers by an additional 13 or 26 weeks, the governor and Legislature could create a targeted economic safety net for those battling age discrimination in their quest to find suitable re-employment opportunities.
Daniel Swalm, Minneapolis
ST. PAUL MAYOR’S RACE
Recommendations for Melvin Carter, Pat Harris
St. Paul is fortunate to have many outstanding candidates running for mayor this year. I have known or worked with many of them for many years and know them as honorable and able people. However, I will be casting my first ranked-choice vote for Melvin Carter. Melvin has the passion, capacity and vision to move St. Paul in the direction we need to go. He brings a deep understanding of development, affordable housing, transportation, law enforcement, finance and community relations that none of the other candidates can match and that we so desperately need. His work on children’s issues for Gov. Mark Dayton has prepared him for the challenges we face. I am pleased to join Dayton, U.S. Sen. Al Franken and many others in supporting Melvin Carter as the next mayor of St. Paul.
Jay Benanav, St. Paul
The writer is a former member of the St. Paul City Council.
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As business owners, we love our St. Paul community. This is our home, and we’re committed to it, but in order to continue contributing by providing jobs, community spaces and neighborhood vitality, we need someone who understands firsthand what it takes to open our doors every morning.
The only person for that job is Pat Harris.
Pat understands the impact of a disengaged mayor’s office — no one from the city came in to ask his father, a downtown business owner, how his business was doing. Because of his experience, we’re confident that Pat, while he may not always agree with us, will listen to us and find common ground and solutions for our workers, our businesses and the greater community.
We urge you to vote Pat Harris for mayor on Nov. 7. Our businesses, our communities, and our neighbors depend on it.
The preceding letter was signed by Pat and John Mancini (Mancini’s); Molly and Thomas LaFleche (Brunson’s Pub); Molly and Pete Skinner (Skinner’s); Blake Montpetit (Tiffany’s Lounge); John Rupp and Stephanie Laitala-Rupp (The Commodore, W.A. Frost); Joe Kasel and Kevin Geisen (Eagle Street Grill); Phil Jungwirth (Pazzaluna, St. Paul Grill, Headwaters Café); Dave Brooks and Craig Leipold (Herbie’s on the Park); David Burley and Stephanie Shimp (Bottle Rocket, Groveland Tap, Highland Grill); Mary Hogan-Bard (Claddagh Coffee); Paul Dzubnar (Sweet Pea’s Public House, Green Mill Restaurant and Bar); Russell and Desta Klein (Meritage); Lenny Russo (head chef at The Commodore); Dan O’Gara (O’Gara’s); and Moe Sharif (Burger Moe’s, The Downtowner).
MINNEAPOLIS MAYOR’S RACE
Why Editorial Board was wrong, and whom to select instead
The Star Tribune’s editorial on the Minneapolis mayor’s race (“Jacob Frey for mayor,” Oct. 29) concedes that Mayor Betsy Hodges has followed through on the commitments that earned her the paper’s endorsement four years ago: good fiscal management and a focus on social justice. Overcoming record racial disparities remains my top priority for the city I love. Hodges has consistently centered justice on decisions from street repair to worker’s rights. The Editorial Board’s negatives — denying a stadium tax subsidy and overcoming City Council intransigence on new police leadership — are actually examples of determined, principled leadership. While the Star Tribune has been purchased by a would-be recipient of stadium tax breaks since the last election, Betsy hasn’t changed, not in the last four years or in the 20 years that I have known her as a community activist. Her commitment to justice, her policy chops and her (underdiscussed) climate change leadership remain very likable to me. I still like Mayor Hodges as my first choice.
Kevin Whelan, Minneapolis
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If, as stated by a Nov. 1 news article, the Minneapolis mayoral race is “defined by calls for police reform, better public safety downtown and greater efforts to narrow the economic gaps between white people and people of color,” this southwest Minneapolis resident’s first-choice vote will be for Nekima Levy-Pounds, with a second-choice vote for the current mayor, Betsy Hodges. Thoughtful, intelligent and articulate, Nekima appears to be the one candidate best able to address the critical issues faced by our great city. Listening and learning from the countless debates, forums and printed words, I not only hear her speak to the lightning-rod issues of racial justice, affordable housing and police-community relations, but she also understands and wants to build upon what makes Minneapolis a wonderful place to live: the arts, the lakes, a strong business environment, etc. Though the city’s mayor has little to no control over school policy, I believe it is Nekima who is best-suited to help narrow the inequitable achievement gap between whites and people of color. A lawyer and a professor, skillful and competent — at this time, Nekima Levy-Pounds is the best person for the job. We all win when the boat rises for all.
Steve Sitkoff, Minneapolis
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Jacob Frey is a good man, but I fail to see the evidence of leadership and collaboration that the Editorial Board’s endorsement describes. In his four years as council member, there have been many occasions — the Fourth Precinct occupation, to name one — in which Frey had little to say on our city’s toughest issues. He did stick his neck out for the soccer stadium, which appealed to the Downtown Council but not to ordinary citizens who are beyond tired of subsidizing sports teams. On the other hand, business leaders were disappointed by his apparent lack of conviction regarding the minimum-wage tip credit/penalty. I support Mayor Hodges for re-election because she has spent 12 years at City Hall (eight as a council member, four as mayor) taking on our greatest challenges.
Peter Berman, Minneapolis
Thanks to all candidates
As we edge ever closer to the Nov. 7 elections, I would like to take a moment to thank my fellow candidates for their contribution to our community. This election cycle in Minneapolis, we have 16 candidates for mayor, 43 for City Council, two for the Board of Estimate and Taxation, and 26 for the Park and Recreation Board.
As a candidate for an at-large seat on the Park Board, I have had the opportunity to meet many of my fellow candidates, and I have come away with a deep respect for those who volunteer to serve their community via elected office. During the election cycle we hear a great deal about what divides us, which is natural and necessary in order to make an informed decision. Unfortunately, 87 candidates simultaneously promoting themselves and their positions can make for a messy symphony. But it is worth reminding ourselves that we share a common goal. In some small way I want to leave my hometown better than I found it, and while we may disagree on a given issue, I fully trust that my fellow candidates want the same. In other words, we may disagree on the how, but we can all agree on the what and the why.
I wish all of the 87 candidates the best of luck on Tuesday. As a neighbor, I want to thank you for your dedication and commitment to improving our community.
Mike Derus, Minneapolis