Questions from the Northeaster

I received the following from the editor of the Northeaster newspaper (look for the next issue behind your bushes or under your porch):

I am assembling information for the Northeaster on the First Ward race, for the newspaper that goes to print this weekend. Sorry for the late start, I'm hoping we can either talk or if you prefer, that you could email me back on these questions in the next couple days:

1.) What are your qualifications/background?

2.) Why are you running?

3.) Platform - what are your three top issues/interests?

I am also curious, in your website you accuse Kevin Reich of not getting much beyond Edison High School area, yet you admit that you also can't do community stuff full time. Can you elaborate on how you choose where to put your time and how you know that the incumbent isn't reaching the entire district?

Thank you very much.

This was my reply:

1) More than a decade of experience as a community organizer. I’ve been a leader in neighborhood planning and development, at the forefront of community crime prevention, and a steadfast champion of persistent engagement and outreach. I manage a local business with over 30 employees, so I’m connected with both sides of the job creation equation. I’ve been an active investor, a non-profit treasurer, and worked years as bookkeeper, which gives me a fiscal sense sorely lacking in City Hall.

2) I put my name on the ballot because I think our current Councilmember’s vote to bypass the City Charter was reprehensible. Those who ignore the will and specific intent of the people must be held to account. Further, the Vikings deal was simply bad finance. We can do so much better.

3) My top issue is community engagement. Everything about our city gets better the more the people are involved in the decisions that affect their lives.

Next in importance is better focus on the core services of City government. The fire department should be fully-staffed, our police must find new ways to build trust in our communities, and our infrastructure should be properly maintained. The attitude in City Hall has been to ignore the basics while chasing municipal status symbols, like streetcars. This must change.

Third, I want to see more community empowerment. Devolve authority to neighborhoods, giving them the support and resources needed to address very local needs. Civic participation flows from the people’s ability to make a difference, on the issues they choose and in the way the choose to address those issues.

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I accuse Reich of excessive and obsessive focus on the few blocks around Edison. That’s where the vast majority of investment and attention has gone during his first term. Follow the backhoes. His lack of outreach and limited availability has been pathetic. Remember, this is his full-time job.

I say this because I pay attention and talk with a surprising variety of folks in all corners of the Ward. There is very much a bubble of insiders, separate from the rest of us. That’s how the people feel. When the public doesn’t even know the name of their representative after four years, it’s fair to call that officeholder a failure at outreach.

Mark Fox

Comments

The current issue of Northeaster actually made it to my steps, and I just read their Ward 1 election coverage.

I see I got in their heads by calling out CM Reich’s obsession with anything near Edison. Margo Ashmore (the editor) included Reich’s response to my challenge as part of my coverage. I was not asked for a response to Reich’s submission. Is that bias?

Margo gave the incumbent double column-inches to list all the stuff distant from Edison that Reich thinks he can take credit for. Is that bias?

If Margo was a sincere reporter, she would’ve considered how much of Reich’s accomplishments are nothing special, but merely what any Councilmember is expected to do. She could have asked me more about the nature of my point, that being the only time Kevin Reich has tried to be in front of an issue was when it involved his favorite square mile. Everything else pretty much landed on him, as part of government doing its job. I don’t accuse Reich of incompetence. I accuse him of mediocrity.

It is also worth noting that all that no ink was spilled responding to my top issue, Reich’s failure at outreach and engagement. You learn much by what they ignore.