Political newcomer Merv Moorhead and his family have been Minnesota residents for the last 20 years, the last six in Ward Three’s Mill District. Moorhead says his 30-year career with General Mills and time spent in different communities has given him what he calls “a broad perspective on the challenges we face as a city and the ability to work collaboratively to ensure the safety of its citizens regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, orientation or economic status. The killing of George Floyd was a terrible tragedy and we need to work to ensure that something like that never happens again. I support Chief Arradondo’s plan to reform the department by ending police brutality and holding bad actors accountable for misconduct.”
Moorhead said one of the city’s biggest challenges is to get the Third Ward post-COVID economy going again. Prior to the pandemic, there was a downtown workforce of more than 80,000. He suggested that they won’t all come back, and “we need to give them every reason to come back.” One of the ways, he suggests, is ensuring public safety; another is to help struggling small businesses reopen and new businesses start up. He asked, “What does it take to open a business in the city? Are there too many regulations? Could the city be a little more ‘business-friendly?’”
Regarding housing, Moorhead says there is a need “to pursue all options when it comes to creating more affordable housing, from tax incentives for private developers to build new units to expanding rental assistance and protections for those who have fallen on hard times,” including communities of color, and changing ordinances to allow more single-room occupancy units that can help combat homelessness.
He noted that access to neighborhoods is essential, and hopes the improvements to Johnson Street will balance traffic flow with the accessibility of bikes and pedestrians. He said one of his concerns throughout the ward is the impact of reduced street parking on small businesses.
Moorhead calls the Third Ward, “The creative and economic center of Minneapolis, and the pandemic has been a severe setback for our small businesses and neighborhoods. Maintaining the Northeast Arts District is hugely important, as is the need to support Art-A-Whirl and other events that bring people to Northeast. We also need to work with businesses to bring their employees and visitors back to Minneapolis so that the small businesses from food trucks to entertainment venues have an active customer base.” He said he wants to make the Third Ward a vibrant community where people feel safe coming to dine, attend sports, public events and arts venues.
Asked if he would retire from his current position as General Mills’ Non-Commercial Sales Director if he was elected, Moorhead said, “I’m 55 years old, and that’s not an easy decision. But it would be a disservice to try to split my time,” noting that being a City Council member is a full-time job.