Council candidate says uncle--but still has hard feeling about aunt
Jeff Hayden doesn't want to come off like a sore loser, although he did lose and he's plenty sore about at least one aspect of the experience. "The people spoke, and I am not using this as an excuse," says Hayden, who finished third behind Marie Hauser and Elizabeth Glidden in the September 13 primary election for Minneapolis City Council in the 8th Ward.
What has Hayden steamed is a piece of literature put out by the Hauser campaign, featuring three smiling faces and a message urging residents to vote "for Your 8th Ward Team." The black face right beside Hauser's white face belongs to Mary Merrill Anderson, a candidate for the Minneapolis Park Board. Hayden has two problems with that. One, Anderson never approved or endorsed this show of sisterhood with Hauser. Two, Anderson happens to be Hayden's aunt.
"Yup, the sister of my mother," Hayden says. "I want to clearly state that Marie crossed a line. She not only used a potential supporter of mine against me, she used family against me, and I find that to be unconscionable."
"In hindsight, it probably would have been better to talk to Mary," Hauser conceded, when confronted with Hayden's charge. "There is no personal attack on the piece. We didn't mention Jeff. He and Mary don't have the same last name. We just chose DFL candidates endorsed by labor who were running for at-large positions on the park board. There are so many running we thought it a concern that the good ones get through. We thought it would help them, and in the precincts where we dropped the literature, it did help. Mary called Saturday night and wanted me to do a retraction. She also demanded that we not drop on Sunday, and so we have thousands of them in our basement."
Complicating matters is that Hauser, the city council candidate, is currently on the park board and Anderson, the park board candidate, once served under her as the board's superintendent. The park board has been beset by a nasty 5-4 schism in recent years, with Hauser a fairly reliable vote for the majority.
"This hurts Mary as well," Hayden insists. "It makes it look like Mary is alligned with the same people Marie is alligned with. What happened is that Marie created this `slate' of candidates, and none of them authorized her to do that. That's beyond dirty politics. It is certainly unethical and it may be illegal. It is up to Aunt Mary to figure out what she wants to do about it." (Anderson could not be reached for comment.)
One might think that the biggest beneficiary of this whole controversy would be Elizabeth Glidden, who by finishing second in the primary has earned the right to face Hauser in the runoff election for the 8th Ward council seat in November. Hayden and Glidden are both considered to be more "progressive" than Hauser, who enjoys substantial backing from organized labor. Hayden received many high-profile endorsements and was the only prominent African American candidate in a ward that has been represented by people of color since Sharon Sayles Belton was elected in the late 70s. His ire at Hauser, then, may well translate into crucial support for Glidden.
Well, not so fast.
"I am not ready to talk about who I am going to support," Hayden says. "Understand that I think Elizabeth is really smart and capable from an intellectual standpoint. But she hasn't engaged in any of the citizen engagement programs--no boards, no PACs, none of that kind of citizen involvement--that we are used to seeing from people running for council in the ward. So I want to talk to her before I make any commitments. There is a great disparity between housing prices in [the]Central [neighborhood] and prices in Kingfield," the neighborhood in the ward where Glidden resides. That disparity is one of the things I want to talk to her about."
Glidden who is endorsed by Progressive Minnesota, among others, cites her extensive legal advocacy for women, Somalis, African Americans, and others involved in human rights and civil rights, as among the reasons why she is qualified to represent the 8th Ward, which is comprised of 29 percent African Americans, a slight majority of nonwhite citizens overall.
Whether or not Hayden does confer his endorsement on Glidden however, one thing is certain. "I won't be endorsing Marie Hauser," he says. "She and [her campaign manager and former councilman] Tony Scallon took a chance. I think they knew word wouldn't get out about this until after the election. In lieu of what's going on with Dean [Zimmerman, whose campaign files were recently seized by FBI agents looks at potential corruption] and the issues of integrity the council has had over the past couple of years, I think people need to know this about Marie. I know this is kind of going for the jugular on this. But that's how I feel."