The City Council race in the 13th Ward in Minneapolis now contains five candidates vying to replace Betsy Hodges, who is running for mayor of Minneapolis. Two candidates have filed since the municipal election deadline in July: Robert Reuer and David Regan. There have been many events in this race, including several debates and a ward convention that saw DFL-er Linea Palmisano walk away with the party endorsement. At the convention her challenger (and the only other candidate at the time) Matt Perry stated that he would abide by the DFL endorsement and suspend his campaign. However, a month later Perry was back in the race and a third candidate, Missy Durant, had also joined the fray. The Examiner followed up with the Perry campaign in August and the Palmisano campaign in September and now presents a similar check-in with Missy Durant’s campaign.
A thin and short-haired woman from the Fulton neighborhood, Missy Durant entered the race in the summer months of 2013, after the ward convention. She was originally from Florida and moved to Minnesota about a decade ago. She recently sat down with your Examiner for an interview regarding her campaign for the 13th Ward seat. Ms. Durant said at this point in the race she is garnering more name recognition but is also worried about reaching the younger voting blocs in the ward, especially 18-30 year old voters. She spoke highly of the ward, saying it contained “36,000 resources” for any Council Member. When asked how the race has changed now that it contains five candidates, Ms. Durant said it “hasn’t changed for me” and said she is “grounded in what’s important.” Reached for comment about Ms. Durant, campaign treasurer and fourteen-year Ward 13 resident Jennifer Schaefer said that she “encouraged her to jump into the race” and gave the first campaign donation. Ms. Schaefer also stated that the candidate was a “natural leader” and spoke of the her prior work with the Minneapolis Kids program where Ms. Durant “advocated for more space for all existing families.” She also said that Ms. Durant was “naturally community oriented” and was “not just thinking about Ward 13” in this campaign.
Asked about what differentiates her from the other candidates, Ms. Durant said it was her experience. She stated that she has “the skills and demonstrated that (she) knows how to work with strong minded leaders,” mentioning that she has worked on “creating multi-million dollar budgets” at Best Buy. She said she knew how to make “tradeoff decisions” in budgeting and has experience “understanding complex situations.” As a Council Member, Ms. Durant said she would “focus and make decisions that continue to move us forward on outcomes we’ve all agreed upon.” Julie Owen, a retired senior executive with Best Buy, said that Ms. Durant worked through “difficult times” at the company and “exhibited leadership skills” in the HR department by saving money without having to lay off employees.
Regarding what she considers the important issues in the 13th Ward race, Ms. Durant said first that the ward “is a very lucky place,” in that it does not face some of the major difficulties seen in other areas of the city. She stated that “manageable and predictable taxes,” “making sure we have the services we need,” and “plans for infrastructure” were some top issues. She stated her intention to work with Fair Skies MSP on the recent Required Navigation problems. Ms. Durant spoke of her intention to consider both ward and city issues at the same time. She mentioned that “education” and ensuring that it is available in every neighborhood will be an important part of doing so. Ms. Durant also said that she is aware she will have to take the day-to-day phone calls from ward residents but also that she must have a city-wide vision.
The interview then turned to some questions specific to the ward. Regarding the SWLRT (a project that has now been delayed at the Met Council), Ms. Durant said that the goal of the line is to “get people out of the city,” as opposed to buses and streetcars, which circulate citizens throughout the cities. She also stated that she supports any environmental studies to ensure that the lakes are kept safe. She compared the deep-bore tunnel idea, which has mostly been rejected by the Met Council, to the “big dig” in the city of Boston, saying that Minneapolis should make sure it does not regret spending money on a project for the long term. She did not have anything specific to add regarding the West Lake station, but stressed that a decision should be made on the full route before the next Council takes its seats in 2014.
The next question concerned the Minneapolis Energy Options campaign and its aftermath (Examiner readers can brush up on this organization and its campaign for a municipal utility here). Ms. Durant said the campaign has “fallen off the radar for people” but also stated that she “oppose(s) Minneapolis considering running utilities,” comparing it to a business doubling its size. She did say that her main priority for the utilities was finding “cleaner energy” and said she would work with Xcel Energy toward this goal.
Finally, the interview turned toward the ranked choice voting in the context of the DFL endorsement. Ms. Durant said she found it “interesting” that the race is supposed to be non-partisan and that her solution would be to either make it fully partisan or enforce the notion that it is non-partisan.
University of Minnesota professor Perry Moriearty (whose comments do not reflect the views of the university), who knows Ms. Durant because their children attend the same school, said the candidate would be an “exceptional representative of our ward.” Ms. Moriearty went on to say Ms. Durant has “compassion,” an “ability to listen,” and that she was “intellectual but does not alienate others.” She also stated that Ms. Durant’s “professional background” would be good for the Council and that she has not heard the candidate say a negative word about any of the other candidates in the race.
Asked for comment on this article, Linea Palmisano issued this statement:
I've sincerely enjoyed getting to know Missy through this process. We share similar values and a person-centric interest for the future of Minneapolis. I hope that her supporters will make me their second choice.
Matt Perry issued the following statement:
This is a critical election for Ward 13 and the City. Ranked Choice Voting is about giving the voters more choices on Election Day. I think it is terrific Missy Durant and others joined the race.
Missy Durant is running for the Minneapolis City Council in the 13th Ward.