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Map would pit Ward 2’s Cam Gordon against fellow councilman

Minnesota Daily
Monday, February 20, 2012

The Green Party is concerned about the proposed map. A redistricting map recently submitted to the Minneapolis Charter Commission is drawing concern from members of the Minnesota Green Party.

The Citizens Committee for Fair Redistricting, a group which represents immigrants from Somalia and East Africa, drew the map which would move Minneapolis city Councilman Cam Gordon — the only Green Party member on the Democratic-Farmer-Labor-dominated 13-member City Council — into ward 9 forcing him to face-off against fellow Councilman Gary Schiff in the 2013 elections.

The committee sent a letter to Barry Clegg, chairman of the Charter Commission, who decides how to divide city wards, saying the map is meant to help reflect the growing minority population in the city. The new ward 9 would be a minority-dominated area, with whites representing 33 percent of the ward’s population.

Dave Bicking, a spokesman for the Green Party said he doesn’t question the committee’s motive for drawing the map but is concerned that the DFL is supporting the map in an attempt to remove Gordon, who represents the University of Minnesota area, from the Council.

Schiff is possibly the most active and popular City Council member. He won his ward with 60 percent of the vote in 2009, with the second-place finisher tallying 27 percent.

Besides the Charter Commission, the map was also sent to several DFL members including DFL chairman Ken Martin. Sen. Kari Dziedzic and Rep. Phyllis Kahn, both Minneapolis DFLers, sent a letter to Clegg supporting the plan last week.

“We have reasons not to trust the goodwill of the DFL,” said Bicking, who ran for city council against Schiff in 2009. “It’s the DFL that is primarily trying to keep the Green Party off the ballot.”

Bicking pointed to the 2005 City Council elections when two Green Party councilmembers, Natalie Johnson Lee and Dean Zimmerman, were redistricted to other wards and lost to incumbent DFL candidates.

“I don’t know if I want to use the word suspicious, but it certainly wouldn’t seem out of line to say so,” Bicking said.

Gordon said he wasn’t suspicious of the Citizens Committee’s motives but questioned why only DFLers received the letter.

Carlie Waibel, a spokesperson for the DFL party, said the DFL is more focused on the state redistricting process and hasn’t paid much attention to the city’s redistricting efforts. A final state map is set to be released Tuesday.

Waibel added that the committee likely sent the map to DFL party members to keep the “party in the know.”

A representative from the committee could not be reached for comment.

Clegg said the committee’s map was interesting and influenced the Charter Commission’s proposed map, which it released Wednesday. But he added the commission, which is made up of nonelected officials, is adamant on drawing wards around people and not political parties.

“Parties can support any map they want, but the fact of the matter is no political party is going to make a decision in this process,” Clegg said.

He added that the final redistricting map will likely resemble the commission’s proposed map, which doesn’t alter boundaries as much as the Citizens Committee’s map.

The commission will have two meetings in the next two weeks to hear concerns about the proposed map.

The commission aims to approve the final ward boundaries by the last week in March.

Gordon said he hopes people will get involved in the process.

“I think it’s really important that if people have concerns or are supportive of the map they weigh in on it because it will all be over by the first week of April,” Gordon said. “There’s not a whole of time for people to sit around and think about it.”


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