An Open Letter to Lisa Bender

Well, I hate to stir up the pot, but I’ve heard from multiple Ward 10 candidates since Friday, and have generally been happy with all of them (aside from the incumbent).  But a recent email I received from Lisa Bender inspired me to write back to her, and I thought I would share:

Lisa, I remember that you called me after I tweeted that I would be supporting Ken.  When you asked why that was the case, I stated that I thought Ken had strong experience with environmental issues and groups, and I got the impression he would be an effective and progressive leader.  While I don’t recall our exact conversation, I do recall asking you about issues like progressivism and social justice, and not receiving a response I thought was enough to warrant my support.

So I was surprised to see you use words like “progressive” and “social justice” in this email – words that do not appear anywhere on your website and that I have not seen to date in your campaign literature.  Maybe this was just an oversight – some kind of miscalculation with your initial campaign messaging, but I certainly hope it’s not just empty rhetoric used to garner the support of the leftist base that is currently leaning towards Ken and Kendal.

The sudden change in attitude/messaging is a real red flag for me – I don’t want a councilperson who is willing to compromise on their own vision in a vain attempt to make everybody happy.  I want someone who will stand up for their own values, and this recent email from Lisa is not very encouraging.  As someone who paid attention to the early campaigns of the three challengers, choosing between them was a very difficult task, and I opted not to support Lisa because she didn’t seem passionate about the environment or clean energy, two issues I want my councilperson to take a leadership role on.

I sent this on Friday afternoon and haven’t heard anything from her since (I asked for a response and said I would publish it here).  I don’t have anything else against Lisa – I think she’s a great person whom I agree with on many things, and she would make a better city councilperson than Meg, but this email makes me think twice about supporting Lisa when it comes time to caucus this Saturday.

2 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Lisa Bender”

  1. Anton: I am an enthusiastic supporter of Lisa Bender. Speaking only for myself, I wanted to share a comment or two about Lisa that I hope will encourage you to take another look at her.

    Lisa is a trained city planner who has real experience making streets more environmentally friendly. Also, she was a leader in bringing multiple cyclists’ groups together to improve bike policy in Minneapolis. To me, these are very substantial progressive credentials.

    I would also urge you to check out Lisa’s podcast interview (I think it’s on In it, I feel that she shows not only her passion for progressive values but her thoughtful and knowledgeable approach to acting on them. (As for authenticity: I was struck by an unscripted moment in that interview where she’s talking about making a street narrower, and she speaks with noticeable delight about how that helps with stormwater too.)

    1. Thanks for the comment, Peter. I do like the fact that she’s a cycling advocate (especially seeing as Mayor Rybak won’t be back), but I think it takes more than that to call yourself a progressive, especially in Minneapolis. My concern relates to this sudden use of terms like “progressive” and “social justice” in a recent email and letter sent out to delegates (I looked for a link to the letter on her site but was unable to find it). I watched two of the candidate forums, and Lisa did not seem to embrace the “progressive” label, unlike Ken and Kendal. Another thing that stands out was that Lisa did not seem very enthused by the idea of a streetcar down Nicollet and wanted to consider BRT, a concept that I consider a non-starter.

      Anyway, maybe I’m just bitter that I did my homework on these candidates months ago and she seems to have a different message now than she did then! I’m sure she would be better than Meg, but I think you could say that about any of the candidates.

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