In November, former City Council Member Joe Biernat’s resignation did not take many people by surprise. It had long been expected that he would step down and when a federal conviction on five felony counts was handed down... In November, former City Council Member Joe Biernat’s resignation did not take many people by surprise. It had long been expected that he would step down and when a federal conviction on five felony counts was handed down, a veritable flood of candidates poured forth, seeking to fill the vacated seat. That field has narrowed from 20 hopefuls to two contenders, DFLers, Olin Moore and Don Samuel, both of whom were welcomed to Lucille’s Kitchen on Jan. 6 in an open forum.
“I believe I [understand] the challenges many of the communities on both sides of the river face,” said Olin Moore, who has resided in North Minneapolis and Northeast Minneapolis for roughly the past decade. “My life has not always been easy. I was raised by a single parent. So, I understand...the challenges [of poverty] that many [Third Ward constituents] face. I had a strong mother [who made sure] I studied and got a good education.” He expressed gratitude as well for mentors who helped him and stated that, as a council member, he “would fight to make sure that everybody achieves those opportunities.” Moore added, “We’ve got to fight the issue of crime, but we’ve got to [do that] by addressing poverty and working on economic development along the corridors, working on revitalizing our upper river front and working on bringing people together and building bridges. That’s something I’ve been doing for the last nine years as a community volunteer and as an aid to Congressman [Martin] Sabo”.
A Jordan community resident of five years, Samuels presented himself as “the authentic community voice”. The former research-and-development executive at Hasbro Toys, now an entrepreneur and inventor of children’s toys, said that he moved to North Minneapolis “specifically to address brain-drain from African American and poor communities [in] the city.” He stated the belief that it’s imperative to “drain brains back in and throw our shoulders to the wheel of community activism.”
Samuels also cited that he and his wife have been block-club leaders and board members of the Jordan Community Council, adding, “I’ve been the spokesperson and one of the founding members of the Jordan Livability Committee [which has] attacked the issues of crime, poor housing and negligent landlords.” He asserted that because of his and his wife’s activism, “when the opening came for this seat, our neighbors prevailed on me to run for this position so that we can bring the concerns of our neighbors to the City Council.”