In 2021, Minneapolis voters changed how the city is run by amending the city charter to create a strong mayor system, with the City Council acting as a legislative rather than administrative body. This change resulted in council members serving a two-year term. This year’s election is for four years.
Elliott Payne, DFL (incumbent)
Elliott Payne was elected to the City Council in 2021. Prior to that, he worked for the City of Minneapolis as a consultant, and helped design the city’s Behavioral Response Team. He grew up in Milwaukee and has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and a master’s in business administration from the University of Minnesota. He lives with his wife, Lindsay, in the Audubon Park neighborhood. They have lived on the Eastside since 2005. He rides his bike almost everywhere he goes.
Why did you run for office? It’s the time we’re in. When George Floyd was murdered I was traumatized, but not only that, I was working at City Hall trying to figure out mental health responses to incidents like the killing of Jamar Clark. It was a first response program. We were looking at how the city should respond, and I thought there needed to be leadership at the top.
What do you think of police reform in Minneapolis? Police are necessary. There’s not a magic solution to all the problems. There are new approaches we should be trying. Reform is something that takes years, even decades, but there are also the needs of the community today. We are developing new types of first responders. We have to be fully funding what keeps us safe, and in the past police were the only answer we had. There has to be someone to de-escalate a situation before it gets out of hand. But the bigger picture involves housing and mental health support. Part of public safety should be mental health responders and mental health facilities.
What’s the biggest issue Northeast Minneapolis faces? I think it’s housing. Northeast has always been a place for single family dwellings for the working class, but now the working class can’t afford the houses. We have to find a way to make houses affordable for families. I moved to Northeast because it had affordable houses, but it’s not that way anymore. Northeast should be a place where people can start a family and grow a family.
Any other issues? Minneapolis Police in Northeast have the second lowest number of calls in the city, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have crime. I would like to see a public safety presence at the intersection of Lowry and Central. I would also like to see Minneapolis’ great bike program expanded more into Northeast. And we’re moving ahead with the Grand Rounds program, which has been 100 years in the making. It’s hard to determine the right path for Grand Rounds, and there will be a lot of land acquisition. I want to pay tribute to Rep. Sydney Jordan who pushed to get the funding for Northeast’s [portion of the] Grand Rounds.
Do you have any special projects? I’m really excited about the emerging therapies for dealing with the opioid crisis. I think we should have a medical assistance therapy center in Minneapolis where we can work with people. The main goal of opioid treatment is to prevent death. It’s been shown that after a person receives a Narcan treatment, that’s when they go through the worst withdrawal. We have to be there so this person is not alone.
What committees are you on, and what committees would you like to be on? I’m the vice chair of the Public Health and Safety Committee, and I’m on the Public Works Committee. I love those committees. The committees I’d like to be on we don’t have right now. I’d like to serve on a housing committee and on a climate committee. Our committee structure was condensed during COVID and we’re still on that structure. Maybe it’s time we expanded it again.
Edwin Fruit, Socialist Workers Party
Edwin Fruit is the Socialist Workers Party candidate for Ward 1. He was born in Philadelphia and has lived and worked in several states including seven years as a union meat packer in Iowa. He has been a lifelong labor activist, and he currently is a member of the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco and Grain Millers Union, Local 22. He has lived in Minneapolis for about two years. Fruit ran for city council when he lived in Seattle, Wash.
Why are you running for City Council? The current capitalist system provides no way forward. The system is based on profit and greed and does not serve workers and their families. Congress is full of millionaires, while the steelworkers and teamsters have no voice. The health care system is in shambles; people can’t afford car loans; people can’t afford to raise families. There’s no solution under capitalism. It’s profit driven and it can’t solve problems. I’m running to bring the Socialist Workers Party message to the people. People will resist and they will fight back. If there are no friends of labor in office, then we need to get labor into office.
What about police reform in Minneapolis? Police protect and serve, but mainly they protect and serve the wealthy and their property. I don’t think that’s going to change until we get working people in control. No, I don’t think we should get rid of the cops, we need them in certain circumstances, and we don’t have anything to replace them with. Certainly we can’t let the police do what they want to do. They have to be held accountable.
Other issues? I think there should be amnesty for everybody, no matter how they got here. That doesn’t mean we should throw our borders open, but everybody here should have amnesty.
We do a lot of door knocking and talking to people, and what we hear is that most working people in Northeast, Southeast, the Lowry neighborhood — all over Minneapolis — they’re just existing. All they can do is keep the jobs they have and hope no crisis comes along. Wages are not keeping up with the cost of living. And it’s the same for the elderly trying to live on Social Security. They’re just barely making it.
Special projects? I would like to make it affordable to raise a family. I think it’s getting harder and harder for most people.
And I think we need to fight for the Bill of Rights. I’m not a supporter of Trump, but our Constitution, and we may be the only country that does this, gives us protection against the state. The Democrats are just determined to get this guy and the lawsuits show that. I’m concerned that the methods they’re using against Trump can then be used against the working class, the unions. Did Trump lie? Don’t all politicians lie? Did President Bush face charges when he said Iraq was full of weapons of mass destruction?
Why are you the better candidate? I’m an advocate for the working people. Wherever there’s a fight, I’m going to be there. I walked the picket lines with the nurses and the teachers. I urge people to support any candidate that’s going to represent them.
Early voting in Minneapolis begins Friday, Sept. 22 at Minneapolis Elections & Voter Services, 980 E. Hennepin Ave. You can vote in person, drop off a ballot, register to vote or get language accommodations there. Curbside voting is also available. In-depth voting information at https://www.sos.state.mn.us/elections-voting/