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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Minnesota Department of Commerce Confirms Finding that Line 3 Tar Sands Pipeline is Not Needed

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Monday, October 23, 2017

Contact: Gabby Brown, gabby.brown@sierraclub.org

DoC’s analysis confirms that risks would outweigh limited benefits of Enbridge’s tar sands project

St. Paul, MN — Today, in surrebuttal testimony submitted to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC), the Minnesota Department of Commerce (DoC) confirmed its original finding that Enbridge’s proposed Line 3 tar sands pipeline project is not needed and that the risks outweigh any limited benefits.

DoC is the expert agency charged with analyzing and advising the PUC on whether or not to grant this permit. In their testimony submitted last month, the DoC rejected Enbridge’s arguments that the pipeline project would benefit Minnesotans, noting that “it is reasonable to conclude that Minnesota would be better off if Enbridge proposed to cease operations of the existing Line 3, without any new pipeline being built.”

In order to build the new, expanded Line 3 pipeline through the state, Enbridge needs both a route permit and a certificate of need from the PUC. DoC’s recommendation that the certificate of need is not warranted is a significant setback for the project. The PUC will be accepting public comments over the next few months and is expected to make a decision next spring.

In response, Margaret Levin, State Director for the Sierra Club North Star Chapter, issued the following statement:

“We are pleased to see the Department of Commerce confirm that Enbridge’s Line 3 expansion project would be all cost and no benefit for Minnesotans. If built, this pipeline would threaten Minnesota’s lands, water, wildlife, and Indigenous treaty-protected rights. At a time when there is no market demand for more tar sands, and Minnesota’s oil consumption rates are declining, there’s simply no good reason to allow Enbridge to build a dangerous new tar sands pipeline across our state.

“We urge the Public Utilities Commission to heed this recommendation, as well as the calls of thousands of Minnesotans who oppose this project, and reject the pipeline once and for all. Continued citizen participation in upcoming hearings and comments continue to be more important than ever. ”

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Sierra Club North Star Chapter Supports Priorities for Lake Hiawatha and Surrounding Parklands

Contact: Joshua Houdek, Land Use and Transportation Program Manager
joshua.houdek@sierraclub.org, 612-259- 2447

Sierra Club North Star Chapter supports the following five principles for Lake Hiawatha, Minneapolis:

1. The timely, comprehensive and effective mitigation of the “north pipe” storm sewer
system as defined in previous planning discussions by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board as the “open channel” option. Lake Hiawatha receives tons of trash and myriad pollutants that dump directly into the Lake via the north pipe storm sewer. This pollution severely impacts the water quality and ecological health of the Lake and its habitat. Given the scale of this particular urban sub-watershed, it is essential that an effective mitigation system be installed at the end of the line without delay, and should be a given in any public use scenario going forward.

2. Protection of existing habitat. A rich and diverse community of wildlife calls Lake Hiawatha home. Any use of the Land should include protection and preservation of the areas where existing wildlife populations reside, including generous buffer zones to limit intrusion into vital habitat areas.

3. The creation of new wetland habitat. We support the increase of habitat zones by increasing the ecological diversity of the land surrounding Lake Hiawatha. We want to see more biodiversity, climate resilience and flood storage capacity.

4. Discontinuation of the use of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers on the parkland
surrounding Lake Hiawatha. Given the park’s proximity to this important water resource and the porousness of the substrate, the use of these chemicals is unacceptable because of their impact on water quality, wildlife and ecological health.

5.  Equitable and accessible uses of the Park that invite all members of our community to
benefit from it as a resource, while focusing on sustainability and ecological health. We honor the Indigenous People of this land and believe they should be involved in the planning processes related to Lake Hiawatha and the surrounding parkland.

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Minnesota Department of Commerce Agrees with Minnesotans that Line 3 Pipeline Expansion is Not Needed

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Monday, September 11, 2017

Contact: Gabby Brown, gabby.brown@sierraclub.org

DoC’s analysis confirms that risks would outweigh limited benefits of Enbridge’s tar sands project

St. Paul, MN — Today, the Minnesota Department of Commerce submitted testimony to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) on Enbridge’s certificate of need application for its proposed Line 3 tar sands pipeline expansion project. In their recommendation, the agency concluded that that there is no need for the project, and that the risks outweigh any limited benefits, noting, “it is reasonable to conclude that Minnesota would be better off if Enbridge proposed to cease operations of the existing Line 3, without any new pipeline being built.”

In order to build the new, expanded Line 3 pipeline through the state, Enbridge needs both a route permit and a certificate of need from the PUC. DoC’s recommendation that the certificate of need is not warranted is a significant setback for the project.

The PUC will be accepting public comments over the next few months and is expected to make a decision next spring.

In response, Margaret Levin, State Director for the Sierra Club North Star Chapter, issued the following statement:

“We are thrilled to see the Department of Commerce recognize that Enbridge’s Line 3 expansion project would be all cost and no benefit for Minnesotans. If built, this pipeline would threaten Minnesota’s lands, water, wildlife, and Indigenous treaty-protected rights. At a time when there is no market demand for more tar sands, and Minnesota’s oil consumption rates are declining, there’s simply no good reason to allow Enbridge to build a dangerous new tar sands pipeline across our state.

“We urge the Public Utilities Commission to heed this recommendation, as well as the calls of thousands of Minnesotans who oppose this project, and reject the pipeline once and for all. Continued citizen participation in upcoming hearings and comments will be more important than ever. ”

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Pruitt’s ‘Dirty Water Tour’ Makes Visit to Minnesota

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 19, 2017

Media Contact: Margaret Levin – Margaret.levin@sierraclub.org, 612-659-9124

Saint Paul, MINN. (July 19, 2017) – Today, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt was in Minnesota to promote the Trump Administration’s environmental agenda, including rollbacks to the federal Clean Water Act – a bedrock protection against dangerous pollution contaminating America’s waterways and drinking water supplies.

Margaret Levin, State Director of the Sierra Club North Star Chapter issued the following statement in response:

“Minnesota is the Land of 10,000 Lakes – a place where protecting water is more than a priority – it’s a way of life. We hope that Administrator Pruitt spends time during his visit learning more about the profound economic and environmental consequences for Minnesota from the Trump Administration’s misguided rollbacks to protections under the federal Clean Water Act.

Minnesotans expect the Environmental Protection Agency to be leading the fight to protect our most precious resources. Sadly, Administrator Pruitt is taking a different approach. Since assuming office back in February, Administrator Pruitt has proposed rolling back dozens of existing environmental protections – recklessly creating new threats to the health and quality of life of Minnesota families.

In 2008, Minnesotans overwhelmingly voted to raise their own taxes in order to provide future generations with clean water and a strong natural legacy. Administrator Pruitt’s actions so far have run in direct opposition to this historic effort.

We will continue to strenuously oppose the Trump Administration’s environmental rollbacks at every opportunity.”

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Statement on endorsement of Betsy Hodges for Minneapolis Mayor

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 6, 2017
Contact: Peter Teigland, Political Chair, peter.teigland@gmail.com

Minneapolis – Today the Sierra Club North Star Chapter announced its endorsement of Betsy Hodges for reelection as Mayor of Minneapolis in a statement from Political Chair Peter Teigland:

“Put simply, Betsy delivered on the promises she made when we endorsed her in 2013. Three of the major issues from her campaign four years ago—organics recycling, the Clean Energy Partnership with the City’s utilities, and Complete Streets—are now city policy. We look forward to each of those signature issues taking its next step in her second term. We hope to see composting more widely available (consequently with less trash going to the HERC incinerator); we hope, as Mayor Hodges has promised, for an increase in utility franchise fees, which can be put toward energy conservation and renewables access for the City’s low-wealth residents; we hope to see the Complete Streets policy more widely implemented, and look forward to an ever-more walkable, bike-able, and accessible Minneapolis.

“We eagerly anticipate what she will accomplish in the next four years. Rolling out of Green Zones in North Minneapolis and East Phillips and the closure of Northern Metals’ North Minneapolis plant are good steps toward alleviating some of the historical environmental injustices in the city, and an indicator of things to come. We are also thrilled that Mayor Hodges has invested in additional staff resources to build the city’s resilience toward climate change.

“The relationships Mayor Hodges has built over her first term—from Van Jones and Pope Francis, to the League of Mayors, to environmental champions on City Council—are inherently valuable parts of municipal government not easily replaced. We are confident that she will be able to build on these relationships, and accomplish even more with a more progressive City Council and Park Board.”

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Statement on endorsement of Elizabeth Dickinson for St. Paul Mayor

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 15, 2017
Sierra Club Contact: Peter Teigland, Political Chair, peter.teigland@gmail.com

Today the Sierra Club North Star Chapter announced its endorsement in the St. Paul Mayoral race in a statement by Political Chair Peter Teigland:

“The North Star Chapter of the Sierra Club is happy to endorse Elizabeth Dickinson for Mayor of St. Paul. The endorsing committee wholeheartedly agrees with her progressive vision for the city, and voted enthusiastically to endorse her candidacy. Sierra Club appreciates her commitment to clean energy and its economic potential. She is deeply and broadly familiar with the Sierra Club’s issues, and more than any other candidate in the race, she has encouraged and implemented policies that will lead St. Paul toward a more equitable and prosperous future.

“She is not a protest candidate, nor is she shy on detailed plans to make St. Paul a more just and verdant place. Her Solar on the Schools initiative, for example, is a thoroughly researched and thought-through plan to advance renewable energy for St. Paul’s citizens in an equitable manner. Likewise, her plans for inclusive financing will make energy efficiency and renewables available for all citizens of St. Paul, regardless of economic circumstance. With these and other plans, Ms. Dickinson’s leadership can make St. Paul the renewable energy capital of the Midwest.

“Her plans for development of the Ford Plant site are also informed by environmental justice and equity—and will hopefully presage a template for the city’s future development. The site represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for St. Paul to add density, affordable housing, and green space to the riverfront in a way that works with and celebrates the neighborhood. Her vision for the site will work for both existing and future residents.

“Citizen engagement is crucial to good government, and we believe that Ms. Dickinson will continue to develop a diverse, city-wide coalition of supporters committed to environmental justice and a clean, green economy. Because of her decades-long activism, she is familiar with the city’s inner workings. She is more than ready for the job. Ms. Dickinson’s collaborative, transparent leadership style is refreshing, and will reinvigorate City Hall. We know that active citizens create active leaders, and are thrilled to endorse her as the next Mayor of St. Paul.”

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