The Growler’s Minneapolis Mayoral Town Hall Forum: A Recap

By Jeremy Zoss

On Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013 we gathered at Fulton Brewing Company in the North Loop neighborhood of Minneapolis with five Minneapolis Mayoral candidates and dozens of members of the Minneapolis community to chat about the issues that matter to our readers — the state of the beer, food, arts, music, and biking culture in Minneapolis.

Minneapolis Mayoral Candidates. From left to right; Jackie Cherryhomes, Stephanie Woodruff, Don Samuels, Mark Andrew, and Cam Winton // Photos by Brian Kaufenberg

Minneapolis Mayoral Candidates. From left to right; Jackie Cherryhomes, Stephanie Woodruff, Don Samuels, Mark Andrew, and Cam Winton // Photos by Brian Kaufenberg

When The Growler first profiled those hoping to follow R.T. Rybak as the next mayor of Minneapolis, there were six major candidates. Since then, mayoral hopefuls have come and gone and the total number of candidates has ballooned to 35. Five of those candidates gathered at the Fulton taproom last night to debate arts, culture and (naturally) beer. Three more, Betsy Hodges, Dan Cohen and Bob Fine, were unable to participate but will answer the evening’s questions via email. Their answers will be added to this post as they become available.
_
After a clever demonstration of ranked-choice voting by the folks from FairVote Minnesota in which the audience selected their favorite Fulton beer, the candidates began with their opening statements – but not before former Hennepin County Commissioner Mark Andrew broke the ice by breaking a pint glass (full of water). Former Minneapolis City Council President Jackie Cherryhomes started, touting her “bold, visionary politics.” Business leader and Minneapolis Audit Committee Vice-Chair Stephanie Woodruff followed, stating that she wanted Minneapolis not to be the greenest or most progressive city in the country, but the smartest. City Council Member Don Samuels used his opening statement to tell his personal story of growing up in Jamaica and coming to America to build his life, while Andrew touted accomplishments like creating the partnership between the Minnesota Twins and Pentair to capture and reuse rainwater at Target Field. Finally, Cam Winton earned the night’s first round of applause by thanking Fulton for hosting before listing his three priorities as mayor: creating successful businesses, delivering essential services and improving education.
_
With the introductions complete, the candidates began answering pre-selected questions from the audience about Minneapolis cultural issues. Matty O’Reilly, co-owner of restaurants like the two Republic locations, asked candidates to name their favorite restaurants. Most candidates chose multiple restaurants, except for Winton, who named only Tin Fish. As a parent of two young children, going out to eat was more or less a “distant dream.”
_
Next, the candidates were asked for their thoughts on food trucks. All agreed that they are good for the city, with minor hedging from some candidates that they may need some restriction in the future. Woodruff suggested that Minneapolis should also allow beer trucks. There was similar agreement on the next question about continuing Minneapolis’ expansion of bicycle infrastructure. All candidates said they thought the trend towards more cycling was a good thing. Andrew used the question to tout his role in the creation of the Midtown Greenway. Only Winton diverged from the others on the question. He said that while he supported bicycle infrastructure and that it was cheap and easy to add in bike lanes in road reconstruction projects, he wouldn’t automatically support all biking infrastructure projects in the city when issues like downed street lamps in North Minneapolis went un-addressed due to budgetary issues.
_
There was more agreement from the candidates on whether they would follow Rybak’s famous stage dive at First Avenue (all said they would be willing, but didn’t want to copy the current mayor), whether the “60/40 food/alcohol sales” rule for restaurants should be repealed (all said yes) and whether schools should place more emphasis on arts and humanities. All agreed. Samuel’s response to the question was easily the most passionate of the night. He said that growing up in Jamaica, every student had arts, music and drama classes, and it was ridiculous that a third-world country should beat the US on that score.
_
After a break, the conversation switched to alcohol-related issues. Again, there was much consensus among the candidates. All agreed that it needs to be easier to open a business such as a liquor store. None could name a city that would serve as a good model for alcohol policies, although all said they were willing to listen and learn from the industry. Doug Hoverson, author of “Land of Amber Waters” asked the candidates to name one specific regulation affecting bars and restaurants they would do away with. Cherryhomes, Woodruff and Samuels named the 60/40 rule. Andrew said patio regulations. Winton said patio regulations and requiring a license to have a jukebox.
_
The evening closed with a lighting round, in which the candidates were asked to give yes or no answers to several state regulatory issues. While the next mayor of Minneapolis won’t be able to change these issues directly, the office carries a lot of influence throughout the state. Cherryhomes and Andrew said they do not support Sunday Sales, Woodruff and Winton said they do, and Samuels said he was undecided. Winton and Woodruff also agreed that brewpubs should be able to distribute, while the others said they needed more info. All candidates said micro-distilleries should be able to open taprooms, liquor stores should be able to fill and sell growlers and, surprisingly, all supported alcohol sales in grocery stores.
_
Overall, the amount of consensus between the various candidates made it hard for any one candidate to stand out, although the style and personality of each did come through. Andrew and Cherryhomes both seemed polished, often steering back to safe talking points. Winton played the outsider well, frequently calling himself a fresh set of eyes and taking the most aggressive (but still rather gentle) shots at the other candidates. Samuels earned several laughs with his laid-back and off-the-cuff style. Woodruff came off as perhaps the most fun candidate – she was one of the few candidates spotted with a beer in her hand at the end of the night.
_

 
STP Summer Beer Fest 2017 Banner

Trackbacks

  1. […] thanks to Jeremy Zoss and The Growler for doing a lot of leg work on this […]

Speak Your Mind