Well, that was pretty dramatic. Despite being in second place to Kendal Killian after the first few rounds of balloting, Lisa Bender managed to pull ahead during the last couple of rounds (after Ken Bradley dropped out), forcing Kendal to throw his support behind Lisa in order to prevent a “no endorsement” outcome, which would likely have led to Meg Tuthill serving another term on the Minneapolis City Council.
Lisa Bender is definitely an upgrade over Meg Tuthill, though I’ll admit that she was my third-favorite choice overall (of four candidates). I really thought Ken Bradley would make an excellent member of the Minneapolis City Council. He was very focused on environmental issues, acknowledging in every speech that global warming was a debt that future generations would have to pay. I think he would have taken initiatives to make Minneapolis a greener city – I also think Lisa feels strongly about the environment, but I feel like she’s more along the lines of a supporter rather than a leader.
Kendal Killian had an amazing showing – much stronger than I had thought it would be. He seemed to be the most polarizing candidate, and butted heads with Meg several times during some of the forums which occurred beforehand. His strong turnout made me optimistic that the convention would be over quickly – after Meg was in third place after three rounds of balloting, I guessed that her supporters would switch their votes to Lisa, just to keep Kendal away from the nomination.
But that wasn’t the case – even after Meg was eliminated by rules (for not reaching 30 percent of the vote), her supporters instead voted “No Endorsement” on the fifth and final ballot. Since neither Kendal or Lisa had reached the 60 percent threshold required to get the endorsement, we were at a bit of a stalemate. Apparently it also takes a majority vote in order to adjourn, and only about 25 percent of the vote was voting for No Endorsement, so that didn’t look too likely, either. Something had to give.
And so finally, Kendal and Lisa met after the 5th ballot. I believe Lisa had 144 votes and Kendal had 133 (but don’t quote me on that). Kendal got on stage and gave a dramatic speech about getting into the race because he wanted a new council member, and in order to see that this goal was accomplished, he announced his withdrawal, and that he was supporting Lisa – the place went bonkers! It was a passionate, heartfelt speech by Kendal, and I’m sure it was not a fun decision to make after putting so much effort into his campaign.
If you want a better idea on what it was like (and you know something about Minneapolis geography and economics), what was bizarre to me was watching how the different precincts were committed to candidates. On the left side of the room were precincts 7, 8, and 9 – basically, that’s Whittier. This side was pretty evenly split between Killian and Bender once Ken Bradley dropped out (I’ll note that Ken did manage 15 percent of the vote in the first round).
The right side of the room were precincts 1-6 – I’m note sure about how many delegates each precinct had, but most of those folks appeared to be supporting Meg (with a few Lisa supporters in there too). Before votes were cast, candidates had a short Q&A session and also had time to make a 10-minute speech/presentation. It was surreal to hear almost the entire right side of the room applaud Meg consistently, while the entire left side of the room was silent. Of course, that was flipped for the other candidates – when Kendal, Ken, and Lisa spoke, the left side went wild while the right side was silent.
In all, I’m glad that Lisa will likely be our Ward 10 City Council member (unless the greens endorse someone). She supports biking and creating a more transportation-friendly city. I questioned Lisa’s campaign messaging previously and while I still don’t know exactly what her priorities are, I also don’t really care. All I know she has the potential to be a better council member than Meg, and I guess that’s good enough.
In other DFL news, I was sad to hear that Robert Lilligren did not earn the DFL endorsement in Ward 6. I think he was a great leader on the city council – I don’t know anything about Abdi Warsame, who earned the endorsement instead. From this Star Tribune article, it sounds like a large East African contingent showed up and supported Abdi.