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As I write this, I'm sitting in the sunny front room of my south Minneapolis home, with a crabby tuxedo cat curled up on my lap. I closed on this house on Friday, Sept. 13, 2019, and despite that ominous date, I've made countless wonderful memories in this home with friends and loved ones in the nearly five years that I've lived here.

I live near Powderhorn Park, a part of the city so vibrant it feels drenched in technicolor, where I spend my days biking, running, walking my dog, hosting movie nights and dinner parties and bonfires. I know my neighbors. I'm a short bike ride away from many of my friends. I can walk to some of my favorite bars and restaurants, and often do. I sometimes joke that life here can feel like an episode of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood."

I was born and raised on the East Coast and never thought I'd be able to buy a home. I certainly never planned to end up in a Midwestern city I'd never visited before I turned 26. But since I moved to Minneapolis, I've fallen in love with this place, with its artful weirdos and beautiful families, its cat tours and locally famous dogs.

I have received much from the city, and I like to think that I have also given much — documenting its highs and lows, its charms and quirks and challenges, first as an editor at City Pages, and now as an editor/owner with Racket. I don't know any of us can say with certainty (as the writer of the May 8 Star Tribune Opinion Exchange commentary "The trouble with Minneapolis: Why we're leaving after all these years" did) that "I have been a positive, contributing citizen of Minneapolis my whole life," but I have tried to be a force for good wherever possible, a friend to those who need it and a reliable member of my community.

Why am I staying? Frankly, I feel incredibly lucky to live in such a progressive city where I believe that most of our leaders, even when they stumble, are doing their best to govern with equity at front of mind. No city is perfect, and certainly Minneapolis has had its struggles over the last several years. I had my old pickup truck stolen from my alley parking spot a few years ago (don't worry, it was recovered, and it's still road-worthy today). That's life in a big city; you take the good with the bad, and you keep moving forward. Or, I guess, you leave.

But why would I abandon a place that has given me so much — the place where I became the person I am, where I made the most meaningful relationships of my adult life? More pointedly, why would I write a sneering piece for the local daily newspaper about leaving town, as those who are staying attempt to rebuild and learn and grow together after a number of unprecedentedly tough years?

The previous commentary noted that only 31.7% of registered voters cast ballots in the municipal election in November 2023. I agree that's a problem, though we differ in our understanding of why. That writer suggested the low turnout resulted in the "most active and radical element in the city controlling the outcome" and gave us an anti-police City Council that makes it harder to fill open positions in the Minneapolis Police Department. But studies show that affluent, white, older voters have a higher turnout in local elections than their counterparts. My concern is that low voter turnout gives us an electorate that's less representative of community demographics. It is true we have a few hundred fewer police officers compared with 2019, yet crime has decreased for the last two years. The MPD was never defunded, despite what comment-section reactionaries might shriek.

How many "thousands of residents, workers and visitors" stay here in the city they love, year after year, and don't make a big fuss about it — especially not in a commentary — because they live a life of quiet joy here, even if things aren't perfect? I'm staying because although I've lived in several cities, I've been happier in Minneapolis than I have been anywhere else.

Em Cassel, @biketrouble on X, is editor/owner of Racket, a writer-owned, reader-funded website founded by former City Pages editors. A version of this article first appeared in that publication.