Hofstede is the right choice for Ward 3

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October 20, 2013
By: Gordon Kepner
Gordon Kepner

Is this a case of the tried and tested incumbent versus the unknown newcomer?

You may have heard things such as:  The incumbent doesn’t listen, or is out of touch, or represents old ideas.  Do the facts support these speculative claims?  If you attended several hundred neighborhood meetings to listen to people’s views on all the issues while taking notes on their opinions and ideas and if you answered some 99.8 percent of the thousands of messages you received, as Council Member Hofstede has done, then this substantive evidence completely refutes such speculative claims.  

Perhaps this sort of unsupported claim disguises disagreements over the incumbent’s vote on any one of the many hundreds of votes taken over nearly eight years on the Council while representing the Third Ward.  Who could not find some issue where the incumbent voted contrary to a resident’s view?  Isn’t it really the totality of the voting record that counts, over each four-year term of a Council Member?

Many issues will arise that reflect closely divided opinions within a neighborhood or the ward. The Council Member must weigh them all and then decide what is best—sometimes for the city, for the ward, for the neighborhood, or for a group—while facing up to the reality that there will always be countervailing views on virtually every important issue within our diverse ward.

The common advantage exploited by any newcomer challenger is that there is no record of votes on such issues.  Run down the list.  How would the challenger have voted on each one?  Rather quickly one discovers that challengers often find it easier and less controversial to avoid taking positions on divisive issues, preferring to talk only of “change”, while avoiding specifics.

“Change” to what is left unanswered. For example, the recent issues surrounding development in Dinkytown had thousands of supporters in Minneapolis including the Council Member who fought to preserve the locally-owned longstanding small businesses there from destruction. Yet the challenger was curiously silent, seemingly avoiding speaking out on this major and controversial issue. In this specific case, the challenger’s silence tacitly supported the destruction of small businesses in order to add 200 more dorm-style luxury units (on top of the thousands of such units recently created near Dinkytown) for those students with the means to afford them.

Today’s so-called “old ideas” were once new and produced challenges to the political system to deal with them. The incumbent’s vision for the expanded use of the river is now an old idea, but it was new when she pushed the city to recognize this treasured Third Ward resource. The revitalization of East Hennepin Avenue and the dynamic evolution along Central Avenue that responded to new citizens moving into the ward are also examples of her vision coupled to effective actions.  They may seem old ideas now, but that was not the case a few years ago when it took heavy lifting by an experienced Council Member to push these visionary ideas onto the political agenda and, most importantly, see them through to completion in the face of competition for scarce City resources.

Thoughtful change—not just the vague change-for-change’s-sake mantra of a typical challenger new to the ward—is what’s needed now. This can only come from a clear vision and plan for the Third Ward, along with a genuine understanding of its diverse peoples and neighborhoods. The incumbent’s long history of living in the Third Ward and serving its constituents has given her the vision needed going forward. Continuity in leadership is essential to achieve more great things for the ward.  Her lengthy record of accomplishments throughout our ward deserves your support and vote.

Gordon Kepner