Minneapolis City Council Member Linea Palmisano, multi-term incumbent from Ward 13 (SW Mpls), has drawn a challenger for the DFL endorsement. Small business owner and political newcomer Mike Norton is challenging Palmisano due to a lack of action on police reform. “Ward 13 deserves a candidate to meet the moment on public safety reforms in Minneapolis,” Norton said. “The incumbent Council Member’s procedural complaints distract from the real issues and get in the way of substantive conversation that we need to have around police reform in Minneapolis.”
Norton, a political outsider who believes elected officials should be accountable to their constituents, is running to the left of Palmisano on public safety and housing in the Ward 13 council race. He was a surprise last minute entry into the party endorsement process, saying he’s only running because Palmisano was unopposed at the DFL caucus registration deadline. “I wasn’t really eager to run given the political climate, but when it was clear CM Palmisano wouldn’t have a challenger who supported the proposed public safety charter amendment, I felt obligated to try.” Norton has encouraged other progressives to enter the race, which has a ranked choice voting ballot.
Palmisano recently stated in a campaign video that she focuses on building consensus. In response, Norton said, “A consensus builder wouldn’t be the lone voice against progressive housing reforms in a 12-1 council vote, and a consensus builder wouldn’t be obstructing progress on police reform. That obstruction preserves the status quo, in turn reinforcing injustices of the past.” Norton continued, “Whether it’s addressing the housing shortage, doing our part to tackle the climate crisis, or deciding what safety looks like in this city, there are broad coalitions of activists and elected officials trying to move forward. The only thing stopping their progress is obstruction.”
Due to the pandemic the Minneapolis DFL endorsement process will be virtual this year, and voting will take place online. In February Linea Palmisano expressed concerns for the potential of the process being “corrupted by people who have the most outside money coming in.”
“I find it ironic that Council Member Palmisano is worried about outside money corrupting the endorsement process when over 70% of her donations come from outside Ward 13,” said Norton, whose campaign is currently self-funded.
When asked about why his campaign wasn’t accepting donations Norton explained, “when I got into the race it was more of a place for people to put their protest vote, and I didn’t want to ask for donations if that’s all it could be, but I’ve been amazed by how much enthusiasm there is in Ward 13 for a progressive candidate. It’s starting to seem like we’ve got a real shot at winning, so campaign finance is something we’re probably going to need to reevaluate in the near future.”
The campaign has already heard from a lot of passionate people, but Norton recognizes overcoming incumbency and the fundraising gap will be difficult. “Southwest can have a voice at city hall that advocates for progressive changes to the status quo if we run a grassroots campaign that reaches enough voters,” said Norton.