Sierra Club North Star Chapter announces endorsements for Minneapolis City Council and Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board

For Immediate Release

Contact: Peter Teigland, Political Committee Chair, sierrapoliticalmn@gmail.com

[October 25, 2017] — The Sierra Club North Star Chapter announces the following endorsements for Minneapolis City Council and the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board. The Chapter’s endorsement process included a written questionnaire and interviews with 43 candidates.

“Cities are on the front lines of protecting our environment and providing essential leadership on renewable energy, transit, and green jobs. The Chapter’s extensive process and deliberations to put forward this slate reflects how important we believe this election is,” said Peter Teigland, Chair of the Political Committee.

“Our endorsements for several challengers to multi-term incumbents reflect strong and viable candidacies and our belief that this year’s elections hold tremendous potential to elect a Council that will ensure that Minneapolis lives up to its potential to be a national leader on environmental policy.”

The City Council and Parks and Recreation Board endorsements join the Sierra Club’s previous endorsement of Mayor Betsy Hodges for re-election as Mayor of Minneapolis.

The full list of new and previous Chapter endorsements in 2017 Minneapolis and St. Paul municipal races is posted on our website at http://www.sierraclub.org/minnesota/minneapolis-and-st-paul-2017-endorsements

Minneapolis City Council

Ward 1: Jillia Pessenda

Ward 2: Cam Gordon

Ward 3: Ranked endorsement:

Samantha Pree-Stinson (1st)

Steve Fletcher (2nd)

Ginger Jentzen (3rd)

Ward 4: Phillipe Cunningham

Ward 5: Jeremiah Ellison

Ward 7: Janne Flisrand

Ward 8: Andrea Jenkins

Ward 10: Lisa Bender

Ward 11: Dual endorsement: Erica Mauter and Jeremy Schroeder

Ward 12: Andrew Johnson

Ward 13: Linea Palmisano

The Sierra Club North Star Chapter did not make endorsements in Wards 6 or 9.

Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board

District 1: Billy Menz

District 2: Kale Severson

District 4: Jono Cowgill

District 6: Brad Bourn

At-Large Ranked endorsement: LaTrisha Vetaw (1st) and Russ Henry (2nd)

The Sierra Club did not make endorsements in Districts 3 or 5.

City Council Endorsements:

Ward 1: Jillia Pessenda

We believe that Ms. Pessenda will be a strong, reliable champion for the environment. She has clear, actionable ideas for needed local action on climate change, environmental justice, active transportation and more. And we believe that she has the commitment to follow through for the environment, even when it is challenging. Her background in urban agriculture, on the Minneapolis Food Council, and working for the Land Stewardship Project shows a deep knowledge of how to make local environmental policy.

Ward 2: Cam Gordon

Cam Gordon has long been a key champion of environmental policy on the local level. In the last four years, he has led or helped lead multiple environmental policies, including: creation of the Clean Energy Partnership, City participation in community solar gardens, adoption of an aggressive goal to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050, passage of the Complete Streets policy and protected bikeway plan, the Bring Your Own Bag ordinance to reduce waste from single-use bags, limitations on crumb rubber, a Pollinator-Friendly City resolution and much more. He is a true leader on the environment, and a close and valued ally to the Sierra Club.

Ward 3: Ranked endorsement: Samantha Pree-Stinson, Steve Fletcher, and Ginger Jentzen

All three of these candidates are outstanding on Sierra Club issues and wholly earned the Sierra North Star Chapter’s endorsement. We make a ranked endorsement for three candidates for the open Ward 3 City Council seat: Samantha Pree-Stinson (1st), Steve Fletcher (2nd), and Ginger Jentzen (3rd).

As the Green Party endorsed candidate, Samantha Pree-Stinson has made environmental issues a key part of her platform. She articulates the Sierra Club’s priorities and provides a systematic, programmatic, and goal-oriented approach. We believe that she will govern in a hands-on, grounded manner.

As the DFL-endorsed candidate and co-founder of Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC), Steve Fletcher has a deep understanding of and commitment to environmental justice. We believe that his approach to governance will be thoughtful and empathetic.

As the Socialist Alternative candidate, Ginger Jentzen has garnered impressive enthusiasm. We were proud to work alongside Ginger on the 15 Now! campaign for a $15 minimum wage. We support her priorities of affordable transit for all and environmental justice.

Ward 4: Phillipe Cunningham

Phillipe Cunningham is a profoundly engaging candidate, and has a deep and intuitive understanding of environmental justice, clean energy access, and good governance. He will make an excellent partner to the Sierra Club and other advocates for the environment and environmental justice in City Hall. His historic candidacy will bring a much-needed breath of fresh air to the City Council.

Ward 5: Jeremiah Ellison

Jeremiah Ellison has made environmental justice a signature issue of his campaign, and raises the issue consistently on the stump and at voters’ doors. He has a strong understanding of a broad range of environmental issues, and makes creative connections between them. We believe that he will be an invaluable leader for the environment on the City Council.

Ward 7: Janne Flisrand

Janne’s professional background and civic leadership demonstrate that she will be a true environmental champion on the Council. A few of her impressive accomplishments: she helped create the Minnesota Green Communities standards that ensure that all new affordable housing subsidized in Minnesota is energy efficient; she is a co-founder of the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition (now Our Streets); and, she served on the Clean Energy Partnership’s Energy Vision Advisory Committee. We look forward to the wealth of experience and collaborative approach that she will bring to the City Council.

Ward 8: Andrea Jenkins

Andrea Jenkins will bring a world of relevant City Council experience to the office. She was a long-time Policy Aide serving Eighth Ward Council Members Elizabeth Glidden and Robert Lilligren, both of whom the Sierra Club North Star Chapter has endorsed in previous elections. Her campaign’s focus on equity, including on environmental issues, makes her a natural ally of the Sierra Club. We look forward to a close working relationship with her as a Council Member.

Ward 10: Lisa Bender

Of the endorsements for City Council the Sierra Club made in 2013, none might have been better than endorsing Lisa Bender. She has proven to be a true environmental champion, taking the lead on passing and implementing transportation policies like the Complete Streets policy and protected bikeway plan, land use policies like Accessory Dwelling Units and much-needed reform of parking requirements, and public space improvements like parklets. We enthusiastically endorse her reelection and look forward to a much-expanded leadership role on the City Council in her next term.

Ward 11: Erica Mauter and Jeremy Schroeder, co-endorsed

The Sierra Club North Star Chapter co-endorses two candidates for City Council in Ward 11: Erica Mauter and Jeremy Schroeder. We urge voters to rank them first and second, in whichever order they choose. These candidates will each be champions for livability, climate change and environmental justice.

Erica Mauter brings impressive knowledge of city government structure and operations, and a deep commitment to centering racial equity in her campaign and approach to policy and politics. We believe Ward 11 and all Minneapolis residents would be well served by Erica’s expertise in the city’s budgeting process gained as a member of the Capital Long Range Improvement Committee (CLIC). We further believe that as a queer woman of color, Mauter brings experiences and perspectives not currently represented on the Council or heard in local government. We share her belief that representation of all perspectives in our local government matters.

Jeremy Schroeder is a skilled policy advocate, and we believe he would hit the ground running as an effective policymaker and coalition builder on the Council. His expertise on housing issues positions him well to lead dialogue and action on density and affordability in both Ward 11 and citywide. The city needs this sort of leadership from lower density and more affluent Wards. We were impressed with his ideas for accelerating progress within the Clean Energy Partnership and with his commitment to implementing the city’s Complete Streets policy.

Ward 12: Andrew Johnson

Andrew Johnson has proven to be a strong voice for better transit, cleaner energy, and other progressive issues in his first term. Among his achievements to date: he authored a successful resolution to ban polystyrene containers in the city; he fought against HERC expansion; and, more locally, he helped a dry-cleaner in Ward 12 stop using and emitting toxic fumes into a daycare in the same building. He is able to participate difficult conversations and closely listen to community voices. Mr. Johnson bursts with good ideas on how to make Minneapolis an example of how cities can be more livable in the 21st century.

Ward 13: Linea Palmisano

Linea Palmisano is a previously-endorsed incumbent running for a second term on the Council. She has been a leader on Chapter priorities, including co-leading development of the Zero Waste Plan, and co-authoring a Pollinator-Friendly City resolution. We look forward to her continued growth as an environmental leader on a more progressive City Council.

Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board

At-Large: LaTrisha Vetaw #1 and Russ Henry #2

LaTrisha Vetaw is the Sierra Club North Star Chapter’s overwhelming first choice candidate for Park Board At-Large. The Chapter is impressed with her strong knowledge of Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board structure and budgeting and her concrete and creative policy proposals. Ms. Vetaw’s extensive professional and volunteer experience as a policy leader and coalition builder will be a significant asset to the Park Board. LaTrisha’s presence on the MPRB will add a much-needed diversity of perspective.

Russ Henry is the Chapter’s second choice candidate for Park Board At-Large. Mr. Henry’s experience as an organic landscaper dovetails nicely into what we hope is a remarkably more progressive seat on the MPRB. He has a remarkable vision for what the parks can be, and has demonstrated passion and leadership during the campaign.

District 1: Billy Menz

Mr. Menz brings a bright-eyed enthusiasm to his candidacy, which is rooted in his experience as a teacher. More so than many candidates, it seems likely that Menz will be able to bridge the logistical and bureaucratic gap between the two city functions, which have so much potential to deepen the relationship of the city’s children to the natural environment.

District 2: Kale Severson

Mr. Severson’s passion for community engagement, equity, environmental justice, and education shone at every opportunity in his screening. We believe that his experience in leadership positions throughout the Northside community will serve him well as Commissioner. We believe Mr. Severson will be an energetic, progressive addition to the MPRB.

District 4: Jono Cowgill

Mr. Cowgill’s screening was among the best of the cycle. Personable, knowledgeable, and engaging, Jono answered our questions with ease, and drove the discussion to the next level. As an urban planner focused on climate change mitigation and resilience, it is clear that Mr. Cowgill’s professional life will inform his work as a public servant. His goals of more community gardens, partnerships with schools, and passing a climate action plan are both laudable and achievable.

District 6: Brad Bourn

Commissioner Bourn has for the last two cycles arguably been the most progressive and staunchest Sierra Club ally on the MPRB. It is the Committee’s hope that his leadership from a minority position will translate well into leading a progressive majority that will deliver a more equitable, more green, and more resilient parks system.

Paid for by the Sierra Club Minnesota Political Action Committee, 2327 E. Franklin Avenue, Minneapolis MN 55406

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