Civic beat: In November, a contest in most every race

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August 3, 2009 // UPDATED 8:37 am - August 3, 2009
By: Cristof Traudes
Cristof Traudes
Along with the incumbent himself, 10 people will seek Mayor R.T. Rybak’s job in the November election.

Familiar names include community activist Al Flowers and 24-time candidate Dick Franson. Papa John Kolstad, a musician and small-business owner on Lake Street, is the Independence Party-endorsed choice for mayor. The list also includes early candidate John Charles Wilson, a Whittier resident.

Other candidates include Bill McGaughey, an active voice on the online Minneapolis Issues Forum; Tom Fiske, representing the Socialist Workers Party; and Joey Lombard, who listed his political affiliation as “Is Awesome.” Bob Carney Jr., Christopher Clark and James R. Everett also are running.

Here’s a breakdown of the other races affecting Downtown in the November election:

Board of Estimate and Taxation: This six-member board sets levy limits for the city and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. The mayor, two City Council members and a Park Board commissioner sit on the board, as well as two separately elected members who voters will choose in November. Running are Carol Becker, the only incumbent and endorsed candidate; Michael Martens, a commercial mortgage broker; James Elliot Swartwood; DeWayne Townsend, who holds a doctorate in biochemistry; David Wheeler, a former Duluth City Council member; and Phil Willkie, currently vice chairman of the Hennepin Conservation District Board of Supervisors.

Whoever wins will be in a unique position, given that voters also will decide whether to end the current form of the board.

City Council Ward 7: Coming off of a third term that included the completion of her final original goal on the City Council, Lisa Goodman isn’t done quite yet. She has two opponents: Michael Katch, a commodities trader and Independence Party-endorsed candidate, and Jeff Wagner, an airport baggage handler and active member of the local music scene.

Park Board At-Large: The nine-member Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has three at-large seats, which makes this year’s slate of four incumbents, one former commissioner and a newcomer a likely tussle. All three current citywide commissioners — Mary Merrill Anderson, Tom Nordyke and Annie Young — are running again, while Bob Fine, currently the District 6 commissioner, has decided to seek an at-large seat he held during his first term. Also running is John Erwin, a former commissioner often described as a middleman. Merill Anderson, Nordyke, Young and Erwin each have been endorsed by their respective parties.

New to the race are David Wahlstedt, a bed and breakfast owner; John Butler, an active volunteer; and Nancy Bernard, an Alzheimer’s nurse.

Park Board District 3: Incumbent Commissioner Scott Vreeland has one opponent this year in Mike Wendorf, vice president of the Sherman Group.

Park Board District 4: With Tracy Nordstrom stepping down at the end of the year, Anita Tabb looks poised to fill her seat. The Park Board watchdog will be the only District 4 candidate on the November ballot.


Petition puts project by Stone Arch on hold

The proposed second phase of an apartment complex near the Stone Arch Bridge has been moved back to a City Council committee after citizens petitioned for an environmental review.

The developers of the project, dubbed Stone Arch Apartments Phase 2, have been appealing a Planning Commission decision to deny a variance that would let them construct a 79-unit building. Residents of the surrounding Marcy Holmes neighborhood have fought any plans for the parcel at 600 Main Street because they say it could some day be parkland. And members of the city’s zoning committee have had concerns about the project’s density.

None of those issues played into the full City Council’s July 31 decision to neither approve nor deny the project. Instead, a successful citizen petition to have an environmental assessment worksheet performed at the site prevented the council from approving the project until a study is completed.

The council could still deny the project, Assistant City Attorney Eric Nilsson said. Furthermore, if the developers, Bluff Street, were to withdraw their current proposal but return with a similar one within a year, the petition for review would still apply.


Burner use issue to first go to state

The North Loop garbage burner will not see any expanded use in the near future.

After the Planning Commission denied a request to allow more burning at the Hennepin Energy Recovery Center, Hennepin County and operators Covanta Energy were expected to appeal at the City Council level. Instead, they first went to the state Pollution Control Agency, where they requested a permit modification.

That process will delay any appearance before the city, and it could make it easier for council members to make a decision once it does come back. An environmental review is likely at the state level, something that could verify or dismiss the health and environmental concerns that played a key role in the Planning Commission’s denial.

The county has argued that additional burning will produce more renewable energy and benefit both Downtown businesses and its finances.

The city’s planning commission is expected to learn in August when the issue will return to them.