Central Clinic-Neighborhood HealthSource provides low-cost care to thousands of patients in Northeast Minneapolis. But as commercial real estate costs skyrocketed during the last decade, the sliding-fee clinic considered leaving the area.
It had outgrown its previous building but Executive Director Steve Knutson worried about finding an affordable location nearby. That's when Ward 1 City Council Member Kevin Reich stepped in.
Reich, who grew up in Northeast Minneapolis, tapped into his contacts and helped find a location a few blocks away that wasn't yet on the market. Knutson quickly inked a deal, paving the way for the new facility at the corner of Central and 23rd Avenues NE. "That would not have happened without him, in my opinion. The result would have meant we would have likely had to relocate to another area, certainly not on Central Avenue," Knutson said.
A long record of quiet, pragmatic leadership like this is a key reason why Reich has earned the Star Tribune Editorial Board endorsement for a fourth term. A longtime neighborhood and environmental activist before his 2009 election, Reich, 54, brings knowledge and experience to climate change, housing, economic growth and public safety.
He also has a strong record of constituent service. On his watch, Northeast Minneapolis has continued its remarkable revitalization from industrial area to arts district and living/dining destination. Vibrant Central Avenue showcases businesses built by members of the state's immigrant communities.
Reich isn't singlehandedly responsible for this. But as Central Clinic's move showed, his diligence has helped the community flourish. On the council, he's had a practical focus as well. He currently chairs the council's Transportation and Public Works Committee, as well as the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization. Clean water and infrastructure aren't showy, but they are important.
Reich faces an impressive challenger in Elliott Payne. Payne, 39, is a tech-savvy consultant who won the DFL party's endorsement. His platform includes affordable housing, transit improvements and fighting climate change. But his most passionate argument to unseat the incumbent is this: Reich didn't take the stage at Powderhorn Park after George Floyd's death and promise to dismantle the police department.
Reich's unwillingness to do so is a positive. He strongly supports police reform but understands it requires care and thought, not hasty promises, which is why he does not support City Question 2. He prefers rent stabilization solutions over strict rent control for similar reasons.
This "let's do this, but do it right" approach reflects well on Reich. He is the strongest candidate in Ward 1, outdistancing Payne, as well as Thomas Wortman and Calvin Carpenter, who is running as a Veterans Party member but said he did not serve in the military.
The Star Tribune Editorial Board operates separately from the newsroom, and no news editors or reporters were involved in the endorsement process. To read all of our endorsements, go to startribune.com/package-opinion-endorsements/.