The Potluck

Petition drive organizers vow to fight on after judge throws out ballot

By: - September 15, 2021 1:08 pm

Community organizer Julia Johnson at a kick-off event for the petition drive to replace the Minneapolis Police Department near the burned-out Third Precinct on a sub-zero February 13, 2021. Photo by Max Nesterak/Minnesota Reformer.

Supporters of a Minneapolis charter amendment that they say would transform public safety say they will take their fight to the Minnesota Supreme Court to make sure voters can decide the issue this year.

Yes 4 Minneapolis — the group that led a coalition supporting the petition drive — is asking the Minnesota Supreme Court to step in amid repeated challenges to the ballot language over the past month.

Hennepin County Judge Jamie Anderson on Tuesday struck down the ballot language for a third time, calling it misleading, just three days before early voting is set to begin for a momentous municipal election on Nov. 2.

The ballot language was challenged by former City Council Member Don Samuels, his wife, north Minneapolis nonprofit CEO Sondra Samuels, and businessman Bruce Dachis. They say the ballot language is misleading and there is no transition plan if it passes. The Samuelses have been vocal opponents of the charter amendment.

Yes 4 Minneapolis campaign manager Corenia Smith said during a Wednesday press conference that they successfully rallied 22,000 citizens to sign their petition to get the chance to have a say in the future of public safety.

“That opportunity has been stolen from them,” she said.

She noted the minimum police staffing thresholds in the city charter were pushed by the police union in 1961.

“I woke up this morning and wondered whether it was 2021 or 1961,” she said. “Clearly, that is where some leaders want to send us back to.”

She went after her opponents and also “so-called progressives” who have “given themselves permission to oppress and suppress the very people they claim to fight for.”

“It’s very telling that the Democratic mayor (Jacob) Frey is not only silent and complicit as the right to vote is stolen from residents in his city, but set this into motion,” she said.

She likened it to the nation’s history of restricting the right to vote.

“This is the result of a coordinated effort by the political establishment, corporate developers and a handful of people with money and power who systematically manipulated the legal system to undermine democracy and silence the voices of people they disagree with. It’s tragic that the status quo is so afraid of change that they chose to abolish accountability and destroy democracy altogether.”

JaNae’ Bates of Yes 4 Minneapolis called on supporters to gather at the Hennepin County Government Center for a rally at 3 p.m. Friday, and advised them to hold off on voting until the ballot issue is resolved.

“We will not be silenced,” Bates said. “We did exactly what they told us to do and then people with power and money said ‘No, we’re gonna take that from you.’ ”

Don and Sondra Samuels did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Deena Winter
Deena Winter

Deena Winter has covered local and state government in four states over the past three decades, with stints at the Bismarck Tribune in North Dakota, as a correspondent for the Denver Post, city hall reporter in Lincoln, Nebraska, and regional editor for Southwest News in the western Minneapolis suburbs. Before joining the staff of the Reformer in 2021 she was a contributor to the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. She and her husband have a daughter, son, and very grand child. In her spare time, she likes to play tennis, jog, garden and attempt to check out all the best restaurants in the metro area.