Sunday, February 22, 2009
Mpls City Council Ward 1 -- Doron Clark - 1st impressions
Saturday Smartie and I had the chance to meet Doron Clark for coffee. I was greatly impressed by his willingness to talk about any aspect of his campaign, from issues to background to who is on his staff. His knowledge of the issues affecting the area was comprehensive, and his frankness on admitting that there are issues he won't be an expert on and will need to turn to others for input regarding was refreshing.
Smartie and I had to do some tag-team questioning, as the Munch wasn't in a sitting-at-the-table kind of mood (possibly because we did not get her an apple fritter beforehand like we promised, although we addressed that situation shortly thereafter). One of the things I was surprised about was that when asked what he'd begin working on, his list wasn't the vast, sweeping generalities that I'm used to from many candidates. Instead it included reasonable, bite-sized to dos that, well, honestly, could actually get done. His initial quick hit idea on creating a center to work with small businesses, much as you have a department that works with the unemployed during layoffs, was especially interesting to me, as it's something I have thought the city has needed for awhile
I missed the discussion he had with Smartie about addressing the overtime costs of the Minneapolis police department by redoing their shifts, something I wish I had gotten to hear just because I know how large of a chunk of the city budget overtime can be when we were looking at it once at the Minnesota Monitor/Independent. That Clark understands that a police endorsement is both unlikely and not in his best interest as it could put pressure on him is quite telling.
I was also impressed by the Clark's interest in what issues affected us the most. He took notes as we talked. I love when the candidates do that, as it makes me feel as though my opinions are really being weighed.
But it wasn't all positive. When I wanted to talk more about public transit, he seemed much more focused on bike paths than I would have liked. I want more frequent buses, and routes that don't shut off at 11pm on a Saturday. I understand that bike paths, as opposed to the bus system, have the benefit of being all upfront cost, with little down the road in maintenance and labor. However, if it's -10 degrees and the baby needs a checkup, I'm not going to strap her into the bike trailer and take her to the doctor's office that way, I'm going to grab a bus. To me, bike paths as a commuter option is for people with cars to have a choice, where as buses are for people without cars to actually be able to get from point a to point b.
All in all, I found my overall impression to be favorable at this point. Doron Clark is obviously a strategic thinker who is taking this campaign very seriously. I would have no misgivings at this point with him winning the endorsement, but will not be picking who I will caucus for until I have had a chance to speak with the other two as well.