Election 2009: Gay and Lesbian Candidates Running in Minneapolis, Maplewood, and Duluth
It’s an “off-year” election, with no executive or legislative races on the national or state level, but local and county races throughout Minnesota will be decided on Election Day, Tuesday, November 3. Grassroots activism, left and/or right, will gain from the typically low “off-year” voter turnout.
This year, Minneapolis municipal offices will be elected by “ranked choice voting.” So, voters can opt for multiple candidates in order of preference. This new method could open doors wider to third-party candidates.
A number of openly gay or lesbian candidates are running in Minneapolis, Maplewood, and Duluth.
Incumbent Minneapolis City Council Members Robert Lilligren (Ward 6) and Gary Schiff (Ward 9) are seeking third terms. However, incumbent Council Member Scott Benson is calling it quits after serving two terms. Incumbent Commissioner at Large Tom Nordyke and former Commissioner John Irwin have thrown their hats in the ring for the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board. Incumbent Carol Becker is seeking another term on the Minneapolis Board of Estimate and Taxation.
Newcomer James Llanas, a serious contender for the Maplewood City Council who is both gay and Latino, says, “It’s my belief that the true measure—though maybe not the only measure—of a community is not how the wealthy are doing and how low the taxes are, but really more about how the vulnerable and the excluded are treated, and the poor. We have a lot of seniors and other people that are being shut out. So, I think I can build a bridge between those that have traditionally not had a seat at the table to be included in the way decisions are being made here in Maplewood.”
First-time candidates Beth Olson (At Large) and Kerry Gauthier (Fourth District) are running for the Duluth City Council. If elected, they would join openly gay City Council Member Jeff Anderson.
Del D. Jenkins, Chair of DFL Stonewall Caucus, notes, “Electing fair minded advocates for equality to all levels of government is important, and the quickest way for our community to achieve equality.”
Mark Knief, Chair of Log Cabin Republicans-Minnesota Chapter, observes, “Like every other constituency, the GLBT community has a strong interest in prudent management of city government—even more so in the current economic climate. One-party rule and powerful incumbents lead toward a lack of accountability, corruption, and unchecked spending.”