A candidate for the Minneapolis City Council is facing increasing scrutiny on social media and a new website questioning his residency — both in the ward where he's running and in the city.
Mickey Moore, who is running in the Ninth Ward council race, said he is leasing a studio apartment near Powderhorn Park to meet residency requirements under state law.
Moore, 51, lists the apartment address on state elections filings, but his family also owns a house in the adjacent Eighth Ward and a house in Oak Grove in Anoka County.
Moore said he started leasing the Ninth Ward apartment in March, understanding that state law requires candidates for public office to have "maintained residence" in the district they're running in for 30 days before the election. If he wins the Nov. 2 election, he said he and his family will buy or rent a permanent home in the Ninth Ward, which spans diverse central neighborhoods between Interstate 35W and Minnehaha Avenue.
"There is no issue with my residency requirements at all," he said. "I'm not going to uproot my entire family for the campaign. After we win, my family and I will find a place permanently [in the Ninth Ward.] ... I've lived in and around Ward Nine for almost 40 years."
Election disputes on residency are filed with the Minnesota Office of Administrative Hearings, but the office hasn't received complaints about any Minneapolis council races this year.
A spokeswoman at the Minnesota Secretary of State's office said the residency rule doesn't reference where a candidate pays taxes, has homestead status or anything other than where a candidate spends time. Candidates file an affidavit when they run for office, including a statement that they will meet or currently meet residency requirements. If a candidate is found to have lied on an affidavit, it's the responsibility of the county attorney to investigate.
State statute defines residence several ways, including as where the person's home with their family is located and where they usually live and sleep.
The statute says that an individual doesn't lose that residence if they live temporarily in another precinct, unless the person intends to remain there.
Moore said that, since 2011, his primary residence with his wife and daughter has been a Minneapolis house near 41st Street E. in the Eighth Ward's Bryant neighborhood. His mother bought that house in 1983 and still owns it, according to county records.
He said he started living in the Ninth Ward apartment this fall and the lease goes until November.
Incumbent Alondra Cano isn't running for re-election and Moore, a DFL candidate, is vying for the seat against Jason Chavez, Jon Randall Denison, Alfred "AJ" Flowers Jr., Yussuf Haji, Carmen Means, Brenda Short and Ross Tenneson.
"I know people have been trying to use the fact I own a house that's ... four or five blocks outside the Ninth Ward boundaries," said Moore, a retired small-business owner whose campaign site touts his longtime South Side residency.
He said he wanted to run in the Ninth Ward instead of the Eighth Ward because there is no incumbent running, he has business ties to the area and he said he got many votes in the ward when he unsuccessfully ran for Congress against U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar in 2020 as a Legal Marijuana Now candidate.
Moore filed Hennepin County campaign finance forms as a Ninth Ward candidate in February, listing his Eighth Ward address.
He started renting the Ninth Ward apartment off 15th Avenue S. in March but said he listed the new address erroneously at 16th Avenue S. in amended forms filed in August. His filing with the Secretary of State lists the 15th Avenue S. address.
Lisa Keacher, who lives in the Ninth Ward's East Phillips neighborhood, said she got an e-mail in March, signed by Moore, responding to her roommates' Craigslist ad for a one-bedroom in their duplex.
According to the March 9 e-mail from an automated Craigslist reply Keacher shared with the Star Tribune, he said he would like to pay "NOT to live there." He said he owns a house a few blocks outside the ward, so "between you and I, I will not ever be a 'traditional' full-time resident. I'm really just meeting the requirements of the city."
Keacher said it seemed "like a very strange thing to ask for and I guess it made me angry that he would try to do something that seems dishonest to me. … I would think that if somebody is running for a certain ward, for a campaign, that it's because they live in the ward, they care about the issues in the ward."
Keacher, who said she's not involved in any political campaign, never replied to Moore and found another roommate.
When asked this week what he meant by not being a "traditional full-time resident," Moore said he was alluding to the fact that he has multiple homes. According to Anoka County records, Moore's mother owns the Oak Grove house but Mickey Moore is listed as a relative homesteading there. He said he and his family go to the 3-acre property for recreation.
"That's not strange or unique. I'm not the only person that's got a place Up North," he said. "In general, we stay in Minneapolis and head out to the country on weekends or on holidays."