The summaries of the candidate’s interviews that appeared in print can be found here. Below are direct quotes from the candidates grouped by question or area. They’re listed in alphabetical order, the order of candidates rotated for each question.
Christopher Clark: “You have to be a good listener, be willing to work with others even if you don’t agree with them 100 percent. You have to be willing to put your neck out even if it isn’t a popular idea. To show someone the other side to the situation, even if you’re not with the popular side.”
Dave Colling: “It’s about listening and educating … and knowing when to do each is important as well. Also being able to make decisive decisions and standing by those decisions and also to be flexible enough to know when you’re wrong.”
Jan Jenson: “Leadership is to not only listen to what people have to say and take it seriously, but also from a council standpoint, how do we look at issues from a strategic standpoint, and try to react in a strategic way … If you’re in a leadership role, you want to do things carefully and methodically … It’s easy to point the finger, it’s hard to come up with something that’s really valuable and beneficial, genuinely serving all.”
Thomas Randle: “You have to listen to the will of the people. …You can’t make decisions in your own self-interest. You make decisions for the people who voted you in, being responsible financially, leading by example, is what it all boils down to.”
Nancy Robinett: “What leadership looks like to me is exercising independent judgment, and looking into issues, forming opinions, and taking in information, based on an independent evaluation of what the issues are, what the facts are what is in the best interests of St. Anthony.”
“Another critical component of leadership for every council member is to engage actively with community members and encourage participation, feedback from community members so that there is a sense of transparency and accountability and communication that the community feels in its engagement with the mayor and the council.”
Randy Stille: “We’re leaders in terms of promoting our mission and our vision, for example: not everybody embraces sustainability and I think we need to understand and make people understand why, and when we get up in City council, we try to explain why we’re doing things and educate people to some of the things that we’re doing.”
“The other type of leadership: we act like leaders, we have to be able to be professionals and show calmness and courage, sometimes in the face of things sometimes in situations where things aren’t so calm, and I think that demonstrates leadership too.”
On Lowry Grove:
Colling: “That’s what first got me involved, during all of that I saw very little action from the city. I think it’s incumbent upon us, of a city official of an elected official at any level, elected official at any level to not only be there to vote and do the day to day basic thing that an elected official has to do, but also to be there for the constituents.
“If some homeowner in St. Anthony were to lose their home through no fault of their own … I’m not saying that the city should come save my home, but at the very least I would expect them to come by and say ‘How are you doing? Is there anything we can do to help you stay in the city?’ for folks who wanted to stay.
Jenson: “Until the developer presents to the council, we can’t openly discuss how we feel about it. Even though I have a lot of feelings about it.”
Randle: “I feel terrible for anyone that loses their home. The Lowry Grove situation is kind of a tough one. Why did they lose their homes? I don’t know the motive behind that.”
Robinett: “I don’t think it’s healthy for a community to allow its most vulnerable residents to leave without attending to their needs or seeking to offer any sort of assistance to them, be it relocation, or housing assistance, or attempts to ameliorate the blow to them of affordable housing.”
“I’m not a person who says that when affordable housing is lost to development, that you have to replace housing to 100% because some housing is lost. I realize that is not possible in our capitalist world. But I do believe that communities and local government have a duty as part of government to its citizens to provide some sort of housing assistance to soften the blow.”
Stille: “I can’t comment because I need to let the development process unfold. It’s an area that I need to handle in a public manner, and not in the paper.”
Clark: “They just pushed them out like they don’t exist. That’s a shame. Talk about community, what community? Are we trying to design something that shouldn’t be? I think there needs to be more discussion. I think people really need to do more to welcome those who are part of the 99%.”
Answers to the question “Are some people in the community are served better than others?”
Jenson: “Speaking for myself, I think there’s a lot more empathy from me on some social issues that were presented to us, but it’s a little difficult to come up with an answer without going through a more strategic planning exercise, not just say ‘Hey, this happened, we’re going to do this.
Big things have happened. I believe these two initiatives [[the Department of Justice review of the police department, and the city’s participation in the Government Alliance Race and Equity]] will help guide us to improve we respond to things. [[With respect to development, and specifically to the police shooting]] there was an Interest in that we quickly do something about that, I don’t know how we could do something quickly more of a strategic approach to it, so that we develop long term improvement plans, and that we are empathetic with everybody.”
Randle: “I guess in what way? There are cliques. There’s definitely cliques. I don’t believe every voice is heard. No, I don’t.”
Robinett: “I feel that our city historically has had difficulty serving people of color with the same level of service as white people. I say this based on my attendance at numerous meetings at which people of color have given specific examples of disparate treatment by city officials, and they feel they have been treated that way based on their color.”
Stille: “We treat everybody the same, that’s all I have to say there. We treat all organizations the same, all individuals the same. I’m just going to stop there.”
Clark: “The majority city is 99% caucasian. There really is not a lot of diversity. Here, it’s primarily, I don’t want to say, upper middle class, but it’s pretty close. This area has always been known as the ritzy part of the metro. They should really look at welcoming more people. There’s a lot of poor people that are also caucasian are excluded.”
“I think we need to deal with that issue … take Lowry Grove. They just pushed them out like they don’t exist. Kind of like homeless people, you push them out and then you’re like “Homeless people, what homeless people?” That’s a shame. Talk about community, what community? Are we trying to design something that shouldn’t be? I think there needs to be more discussion I think people really need to do more to welcome those who are part of the 99%.”
Colling: “It’s more complicated than that. It depends on the issue. If you’re looking at the hundreds of folks that lost their homes in Lowry Grove, I definitely would say no they aren’t being served very well at all.”
“As I was doorknocking and talking to citizens … most people would say they like living here. And I love living here as well. Are people not being served? I think they are, but things could be better. I think people could be better served. That’s why I’m running.”
Is there a “silent majority” as one speaker during a community forum at a council meeting suggested?
Robinett: “I will say that I also have heard the mayor refer to the term “silent majority” on more than one occasion. … If people are not willing to talk about their concerns or bring an issue forward, but are silent about it, perhaps they’re a majority, but should we be making policy, or should we taking action or inaction based on a perception that these people exist and that these people are a majority?”
“If an elected body wants to make policy based on a perception that the community wants this, they need to not cite a silent majority. They need to cite actual policy grounds.”
Stille: “Unfortunately yes, that has occurred, I’ve talked to people who the people who I talk to don’t feel the need to come up and tell us we’re doing a good job. When people are dissatisfied, that’s when the negativity comes out. “
Clark: “From my personal experience, yes. Because I watched … the City Council meetings and people are screaming, hooting and hollering. People can communicate without screaming and hollering. I used to be a person like that years ago, but then I learned it doesn’t get you anywhere. People just look at you and run the other way and label you.”
“I think a lot of people are afraid, with everything that went on with last year’s presidential election, with Trump, and people accepted his behavior and they still do. Even the Republicans are allowing this to go on, and they’re not speaking up, and he’s part of them. I think people are afraid, it’s easy to find people’s addresses, and some people are taking it to the next level and hunting you down. So, I can kind of see that with the silent majority, people are just afraid.”
Colling: “I’ve worked in politics and government for 25 years. My experience is that there really never has been a silent majority. Elections are won by people who get the most votes. Votes are gotten one person at a time. I think of people as individuals, and when I campaign I try to get one vote at a time until I can get enough to win.
If there ever was a silent majority it might be all the people protesting coming to council meetings who were not silent anymore.”
Jenson: “I do know we’ve had meetings that were very vocal, I guess if anyone had a different opinion, they would feel intimidated.”
Randle: “I do believe there is a silent majority, I don’t know what can be done, if they won’t come forward.”
Recent, compelling read? (book or other written resource)
Randy Stille: Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond
“I read that with the idea I knew that there were issues in Lowry Grove. I did it in a way to try to understand that viewpoint. It’s an interesting read. It did touch me.”
Christopher Clark: an article on cleaning out bird feeders in Birds and Blooms. “I’m a well-rounded person.”
Dave Colling: Covenants and Civil Rights, Race and Real Estate in Minneapolis, an article about redlining and housing after World War II.
Jan Jenson Blink by Malcolm Gladwell and A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota by Sun Yung Shin. About the latter: “It was full of examples of people’s experience that people like myself have not experienced. It’s helped open my eyes a little further.”
Thomas Randle: an article about agricultural prices in his home state of Mississippi
Nancy Robinett: Troublesome Young Men: Rebels who Brought Churchill to Power and Helped Save England, by Lynne Olson. “It’s about the group of politicians who in 1940 overthrew the government of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain.”
Christopher Clark: senior building and grounds worker at the University of Minnesota; also a potter
Dave Colling: executive director of the Harrison Neighborhood Association in North Minneapolis
Jan Jenson: retired operations manager at Honeywell Aerospace (now consulting there)
Thomas Randle: property management
Nancy Robinett: lawyer in private practice
Randy Stille: commercial real estate lender at Wells Fargo