After a year of crisis and chaos, the first glimmer of hope is shining through for Minneapolis, our beloved but beleaguered city.
No, not the vaccine. The City Council elections! Though ballots won't be cast until fall, the DFL endorsement process has begun and campaigns are kicking into high gear.
This means that if you are fed up with the police defunding drama, the climbing crime rates and carjackings, and the astonishing amateurishness of the current council, now — not November — is your time to get behind a fresh crop of candidates and position our city for a turnaround.
With so many candidates to sift through, our group hopes to make it easier for you to back the right ones. Dozens of volunteer residents recently vetted the candidates strongest on the two issues many of us care most about: Restoring safety to our streets and sanity to our council.
It won't happen with the current cast. We've watched in anger and bewilderment as an inept City Council bickers and bets on off-the-rails ideology over common-sense solutions. Enough with the insanity: The calls for a "police-less society;" the micromanaging of a demoralized and dwindling city staff; the knee-jerk "ready-fire-aim" governing style; and the divisive agendas that trample the wishes of the majority to kowtow to dangerous utopians. This is no way to run one of America's treasured cities.
We've learned our lesson. We can't sit out this election. Let's vote wisely to replace those unfit to lead.
Which brings us to that glimmer of hope. Our volunteers interviewed nearly two dozen candidates — fresh faces with energy, skills, ideas and clear-eyed realism. Party affiliation was not a factor. We spoke with Democrats, Republicans and independents, and scored them on the two criteria that drive our mission: Less crime, more competence.
We favored candidates who align with us (and probably you) on core public safety issues: Yes to police reform and accountability, but no to defunding. Yes to more (good) cops on the streets. And yes to working with Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, not against him.
Our endorsees also support alternative emergency response services (but not always at the cost of police dollars), and oppose two city charter amendments proposing a new Public Safety Department. Both are Trojan horses for police downsizing and abolishment.
Other endorsement factors include: A candidate's commitment to racial justice and equity, and advocacy for jobs and affordable housing for neighbors in need. Safety cannot be sustained without those.
As for competence, we put a premium on professional experience and demeanor. We looked for candidates who have started businesses; have worked in large, complex organizations; have managed people and budgets; who can think strategically and approach issues with an open mind; and who are team players.
Because city elections are run with ranked-choice voting, we chose up to three candidates per ward when merited, in order of preference, because that's what you get to do in the voting booth.
The process left volunteers hopeful about our future. There's the promise of up-and-comers (from the list below: Flowers Jr., Gherna, Martinez and Norris-Holliday); the smarts of seasoned professionals (Ford, Moore, Moorhead, Vetaw and Wheeler), and the hometown-roots of a grounded, passionate trio (Koski, Parsons, Rainville).
Then there's our heroine Cathy Spann, who led the effort to sue the city for insufficient police protection.
Add the steady, reliable leadership of current council members Goodman, Osman, Palmisano and Reich, and there's hope that normalcy and sanity can make a comeback to the council.
But this won't happen unless you engage — right now. Most candidates are in the process of vying for the DFL endorsement, which delivers advantages to the winners. Our endorsees need you to step up, so they can elbow out well-financed and organized extremists who would accelerate our decline if they win.
Start at our website — opsafetynow.com — where information went live April 10. Review our endorsed slate for your ward. Then choose and contact your preferred candidate. Offer to take part in the DFL caucus on his or her behalf — either as a pledged delegate or as someone who will vote for the candidate's pledged delegates.
You can easily do this from home via smartphone or computer. But you must act before April 30.
Don't let extremists chart our future. You have the power to restore safety and sanity, and make us a resurgent Minneapolis.
Operation Safety Now endorsements
First Ward: First choice, Kevin Reich; second choice, none; third choice, none.
Second Ward: No endorsement.
Third Ward: First choice, Michael Rainville; second choice, Merv Moorhead; third choice, none.
Fourth Ward: First choice, LaTrisha Vetaw; second choice, Becka Thompson; third choice, none.
Fifth Ward: First choice, Cathy Spann; second choice, Victor Martinez; third choice, Elijah Norris-Holliday.
Sixth Ward: First choice, Jamal Osman; second choice, none; third choice, none.
Seventh Ward: First choice, Lisa Goodman; second choice, Teqen Zéa-Aida; third choice, none.
Eighth Ward: No endorsement.
Ninth Ward: First choice, Mickey Moore; second choice, Al "AJ" Flowers Jr.; third choice, none.
10th Ward: First choice, Chris Parsons; second choice, David Wheeler; third choice, Alicia Gibson.
11th Ward: First choice, Dillon Gherna; second choice, Emily Koski; third choice, none.
12th Ward: First choice, Nancy Ford; second choice, none; third choice, none.
13th Ward: First choice, Linea Palmisano; second choice, none; third choice, none.
Operation Safety Now is a grassroots movement of concerned residents. This article was also submitted on behalf of Minneapolis residents Tera Arnold, Brandi Bennett, Bruce Dachis, Jay Ettinger, Melissa Ellering, CindyLou Ferris, Teresa Fisher, Elizabeth Gray, Gregory Hestness, Christopher Hewitt, Michelle Ingersoll, Terri Jackson, Colleen Kepler, Marjorie Lin Kyriopoulos, Lynn Langit, Claire Ruebeck, Sondra Samuels, Ellen Schmitz, Shiela A. Scott, Janet Skimore and Mike Sward.