The Minneapolis DFL City Convention was held Saturday, May 12, 2018, at North High. Thank you to Alicia Bennett, former Mpls DFL Chair, and the volunteers who were supporting her efforts to pull the convention together. I participated in this process knowing, without the DFL endorsement, any political race in Minneapolis is extremely difficult to win. I also participated believing it would be a fair and transparent process for all those seeking endorsement. This was not the case.
I want to share a few reflections about the convention process in order to understand why I agreed to abide by the endorsement and then ran against the two endorsed At-large Candidates. Firstly, low turnout and participation. This process of represenatitve democracy requires participation. There were over 1300 delegates and alternates who volunteered at caucses in February 2018, for the City Convention. Less than half attended the convention, with only 464 casting a vote in the first ballot for the At-large School Board seat. This is barely 0.1% of the total population of Minneapolis. It may have been a variety of factors, including holding the even on Mother’s Day and the fishing opener. It also may have been the lack of candidate contact with delegates. The Candidates seeking endorsement received the delegate and alternate lists Friday, May4, 2018, one week before the convention, at least that’s when I received it from the Mpls DFL.
I strongly believe the divisive rhetoric and negative campaigning by some discouraged participation. This continued during the convention, where my signs were defaced, literature terribly misrepresenting the facts was handed out by MFT, current MPLS DFL Chair, and education reform groups side by side, and my volunteers were addressed in disparaging, sometimes racist, manners by other campaign volunteers. I had never experienced such behavior at a DFL convention.
As the incumbent At-Large School Board Candidate, I was disappointed but not discouraged that I did not receive the DFL endorsement. I worked hard during the 2018 At-large School Board race to continue to dispel the disinformation campaign launched against me by MFT leadership, School Board Directors and ed reformers. I have shared my speech and a letter (attached below) from the 2018 Convention in response to some of the misinformation.
I appreciate everyone willing to participate in the caucus/convention system to endorse candidates. However, when so few show up, what does that say about our current practice? I had many conversations through the primary and general elections about what Minneapolis voters want to see happen moving forward to ensure their voice is represented in our DFL process and on the Minneapolis Board of Education. With the super engaged voters in the August 2018 primary, I came in second (there were two open seats for At-large School Board).
I know I stood up and commited to abiding by the endorsement. I did so believing in the process. Myself and many others left that day knowing the process had failed. I am again seeking the DFL endorsement May 17, 2020 and will abide by the endorsement and hope the process is more fair and transparent.