Much has been said about the upheaval in the Republican Party. But there may be just as much change happening in the Democratic Party, at least if the Minneapolis City Council election this year is representative of any trends. The generational turnover in the Council has dropped the average age from 52 to 41, by my reckoning, and increased the non-white membership from 1 to 3 of 13 – all of whom are foreign-born.
Is this the future of the Democratic Party? The short answer is yes, but it starts small. Leadership is developed at the local level, and there’s no better place to develop it than the City Council. Minneapolis has a Weak Mayor system, so it’s the council that actually runs things. And not only is the new council much younger, it was generally elected on a platform of social justice and neighborhood development – not downtown.
I may have to stop making fun of our younger sister city.
It’s important to note that Ranked Choice Voting (RCV), the elections are not all officially decided at this time. But we can tell who will win, even if the final counting takes a few days. It’s worth the wait to get it right. No matter what, we know that the 13 seats will be filled by 1 Green and 12 DFLers (that’s the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party to non-Minnesotans – we don’t just have Democrats here!).
The ages of each council member is hard to find without a lot of digging, but in most cases I can be at least close. Here is the new council and its 7 of 13 new faces, with their ages:
|Old Council||New Council|
|1||Kevin Reich||45||Kevin Reich||45|
|2||Can Gordon||58||Can Gordon||58|
|3||Diane Hofstede||62||Jacob Frey||32|
|4||Barbara Johnson||57||Barbara Johnson||57|
|5||Don Samuels||53||Blong Yang||35|
|6||Robert Lilligren||53||Abdi Warsame||32|
|7||Lisa Goodman||46||Lisa Goodman||46|
|8||Elizabeth Glidden||45||Elizabeth Glidden||45|
|9||Gary Schiff||41||Alandra Cano||32|
|10||Meg Tuthill||62||Lisa Bender||35|
|11||John Quincy||51||John Quincy||51|
|12||Sandy Colvin Roy||63||Andrew Johnson||32|
|13||Betsy Hodges||39||Linea Palmisano||37|
If you look at them by their generation the results become even more stark. In one election the council went form a majority of Baby Boomers (8) to a plurality of Gen-X (6):
More importantly, the three new council members who are foreign born – Blong Yang (Hmong), Abdi Warsame (Somali) and Alandra Cano (Mexican) will bring a very different perspective to this diverse city. They are still in the minority, but the leadership development and inclusion of new voices changes not just the city but the entire state. As we become more diverse there are finally new faces at the table, and as the old saying goes, “If you aren’t at the table, you are on it”.
Much was made during the election at the voter rage at being forced to pick upwards of $675M of the tab for the $1B Vikings Stadium. It’s far more than that. Minneapolis has always been a city ruled by the wealthy in one way or the other, funding big civic improvements primarily Downtown. Those days are now over. The new council is going to be much more neighborhood oriented, given what the new members campaigned on. It will be a different city in 4 years, no matter what.
It’s possible to make too much of this generational shift, especially since we haven’t seen what they have done yet. But one thing is clear – there is new leadership being developed and it includes younger and more diverse people than ever before. The DFL is re-invigorating itself without going through the painful process of tearing itself apart first. This can only be a good thing.