This year looks to contain a rather unusual and exciting off-year election cycle for the city of Minneapolis. Foremost is the mayoral race, in which multiple candidates have announced their candidacies for RT Rybak’s position at City Hall. Among those candidates is the Councilmember for Ward 13, Betsy Hodges, which in turn opens up her own seat on the Council. So far two candidates have announced their intention to run: Linea Palmisano of Linden Hills and Matt Perry of East Harriet. The Examiner has already spoken with Ms. Palmisano about her campaign and now turns to its conversation with Mr. Perry.
Matt Perry has lived in the East Harriet are for 21 years with his wife in an area he referred to as the “Barton School block.” It was the first home he has ever owned in the city. Mr. Perry spent his childhood in upstate New York. His father was a school teacher and would go on to become a state elected official from Rochester and to work for the federal government. His mother was a volunteer coordinator for the public television station in Rochester. Mr. Perry has not run for an elected office before this race.
Mr. Perry first got into local government by helping to organize opposition to a variance on his Minneapolis city block. He went on to join his local neighborhood association and to become its president. He has been on multiple boards and committees since, including the City of Minneapolis Zoning Board of Adjustment, Neighborhood Community and Engagement Committee (to which he was appointed by Mayor Rybak), the Parks & Recreation Board Community Advisory Committee, and the Capital Long Range Improvement Committee (to which he was appointed by CM Hodges). Mr. Perry also helped organize the Nicollet-East Harriet Business Association.
Mr. Perry began his career in the startup industry but would go on to found his own small business in 2004, a technical service company for other businesses called “Twin Cities PC MD.” This business has helped him understand how to work with the local community because it’s the “right thing to do.”
When asked about the crucial issues facing the 13th ward in this election, Mr. Perry spoke to the Examiner about three. First was ensuring “sound financial stewardship” for the city. He said the current Council had done a good job on this issue but that he would “seek ways to do better.” Mr. Perry next spoke about the need to “build a responsive, collaborative city government” and to “work with partners on the school and park boards.” Finally he talked about the importance of “promoting smart growth” and creating a “sustainable city while preserving the character of our neighborhoods.” Some other issues that will come up during this race appear on the candidate’s campaign website.
When asked what he likes best about the 13th ward, Mr. Perry said he enjoys the biking trails, lakes, and gardens, but also the “sense of community.” He also spoke of the need for the area to be an “affordable place to live” by keeping property taxes low. Mr. Perry said that a balance needs to be struck between the taxes paid and the services provided. Regarding what could be improved in the ward, Mr. Perry said it needs “better transit options” including more bus routes.
Given the opportunity to express his feelings toward the person he hopes to replace on the Council, Mr. Perry said he and CM Hodges had a “similar outlook on fiscal responsibility.” He also spoke highly of the Council’s overall resistance to “one-time budget fixes.”
Discussing what influenced him to enter local government, Mr. Perry spoke of his father’s service in the state of New York, first as a county legislator and then as a state senator. He said his father was able to “help consumers, focus on education issues,” and secured “funding for a battered spouse shelter.” Mr. Perry said he’s done a lot of work in his community but “to do more” he will need to move up to the level of elected official.
Mr. Perry said he will be seeking the DFL endorsement at the April 16 caucuses, saying he was a “lifelong Democrat.” He also noted that the filing deadline for the Council race is not until July so there could be more candidates to join the race.