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Two remarkable DFL women

by JeffStrate on April 4, 2018 · 0 comments

The April Edition of Democratic Visions begins with MN State Representative Laurie Pryor (DFL, HD 48A) and The Uptake’s Mike McIntee.  The two discuss the current legislative session, sexual harassment, gun violence and some Hopkins School District girls who are making a difference.   And then, North Branch Mayor Kirsten Hagen Kennedy and BelAhdan’s Ahmed Tharwat talk about her bid for the DFL endorsement to run for Congress in Minnesota District 8.  Yes, Kirsten is that rare DFL candidate with an easy to take sense of humor!   Democratic Visions is handcrafted by southwest suburban Democrats and lefties  through Southwest Suburban TV and Bloomington Community Access Television.  We also have a YouTube Channel and are seen on public access channels in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Bloomington, Eden Prairie, Richfield, Hopkins, Edina, Minnetonka, Champlin, Anoka, Rogers and Andover.



Three Republican Targets

by JeffStrate on October 17, 2014 · 1 comment

Soutwest suburban Southwest suburban Democrats Yvonne Selcer, Ron Erhardt and Joan Howe-Pullis are watching their backs in their blue-trending MN House districts.

Southwest suburban Democrats Yvonne Selcer, Ron Erhardt and Joan Howe-Pullis are watching their backs in their blue-trending MN House districts.

Three DFL endorsed candidates in three politically purple southwest suburbs define their positions and records on the pre-election edition of Democratic Visions. Moderate Democrat Yvonne Selcer is seeking a second term in House District 48A.  She is being challenged by Republican Kirk Stensrud who held the same southern Minnetonka/northern Eden Prairie seat for a single term prior to narrowly losing the 2012 election to Selcer. Selcer’s team claims that the Republicans have made the former Hopkins School District Board chair their number one MN House target to flip.


My family, which includes two voting age kids, lives in 48A. The Stensrud, MN GOP and uber-conservative PAC pollsters, pitchmen and pornographers are hosing us over the phone and on cable TV, YouTube and Facebook ads and through our mailbox. The “pornographers” (employed here in only a figurative sense) include Pro Jobs Majority, Minnesota Action Project and the Republican Party of Minnesota.  Yvonne Selcer’s comforting, school marm charm and legislative record expose the right wing smears as graffiti, spray-canned by folks in need of anger management intervention.


Edina’s Ron Erhardt is also a target as he seeks his 11th term in the Minnesota House. Nine of those terms were served consecutively when Mr. Erhardt was an independently minded, moderate Republican; he is now an independently minded, moderate Democrat.  Erhardt was bounced out of the Republican Party after he and five other Republican legislators voted to over ride then Governor Pawlenty’s veto of a transportation-funding bill in February 2008.  The lean, chiseled bucaroo did not run in 2010 but found time to entertain the usual suspects at a Drinking Liberally therapy session in NE Minneapolis a few weeks before the election. In 2012, Erhardt-the-Democrat was returned to the MN House by Edina voters.


One of Ron Erhardt’s Edina neighbors, DFL elder Tim O’Brien (our lead host on Democratic Visions), sees Ron as the most effective and knowledgeable transportation advocate in St. Paul.  Blogger Steve Timmer (also of Edina) notes at Left MN  that his fellow villagers are trending blue but do not vote for ideologues blue or red. Explaining, perhaps why Erhardt’s G.O.P. opponent Dario Anselmo says very little.


Eden Prairie’s Joan Howe-Pullis is challenging Republican incumbent Jenifer Loon to represent House District 48B.  Loon was one of the few Republicans who voted for the marriage equality law last year.  She was punished by south Eden Prairie party Republicans and forced into a very expensive summer primary. Although Loon crushed her right wing primary challenger, she now faces a popular community organizer.   DFL endorsed Joan Howe-Pullis helped mobilize Eden Prairie opposition to the 2012 Republican supported ballot question that would have had the State Constitution define marriage as only between a man and a woman. With her votes back then, Jenifer Loon helped put that constitutional amendment question on the ballot.

House District 48B voters rejected the anti-gay, “marriage amendment” by 60%.  Joan Howe-Pullis and her marriage equity colleagues did the hard work in a district where very conservative Republican Senator David Hann also lives.


Joan Howe-Pullis can upset her respected and conservative incumbent on November 4th even as Democrats are supposed to wither into minority status. In southern Eden Prairie, as the song goes, “the times they are a changing.”  Howe-Pullis is well liked, knows her part of town and is an active member of the large, Pax Christie Catholic Community. Jenifer Loon’s overall conservative voting record (she opposed light rail and recent minimum wage hike legislation) may no longer fit her constituents.

All three DFL endorsed candidates need strong get-out-the vote support.


Democratic Visions on YouTube

Yvonne Selcer video segment

Ron Erhardt video segment

Joan Howe-Pullis video segment

Democratic Visions cable TV schedule

Minneapolis – MTN Channel 16 – Sundays at 8:30 p.m., Mondays 3:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. MTN streams the program from its website during cable casts


Minnetonka, Hopkins, Edina, Eden Prairie and Richfield – Comcast Channel 15 – Sundays at 9 p.m., Mondays at 10:00 p.m., and Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m.

Bloomington – BCAT Cable Channel 16 – Tuesdays at 2:00 p.m. & 10:00 p.m.; Fridays at 9:30 p.m.; Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. & 2:30 p.m.

Democratic Visions is independently produced by Eden Prairie, Minnetonka and Edina volunteers at the Bloomington Community Access Television studio by arrangement with the Southwest Suburban Cable Commission and Southwest Community Television. Democratic Visions is not endorsed or supported by any political party or political action committee.


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jon applebaum1

Jon Applebaum is running for state representative in the Minnetonka-Plymouth-Woodland community (44B) where highways 494 and 394 intersect.


Jon continued the tradition of his family of entrepreneurs and small business owners by starting a company that provides real estate consultancy services. He is a practicing lawyer as well. He volunteers with Tubman Pro Bono Safety Project to provide pro bono legal service. Jon was also co-president of The Leadership Emergence and Development Project, a non-profit organization that involves young professionals in the charitable and philanthropic communities of the Twin Cities.


Jon is dedicated to reaching to everyone in his district. In addition to knocking on doors, Jon has coffee hours at People’s Organic in Minnetonka every Monday from 7:30 – 9:00 a.m. Jon even publishes his phone number.


Below is the questionnaire that I provided, with the answers from Jon Applebaum. I think there are some fascinating answers. Like Jon’s ideal political hero combines the pragmatism of Bill Clinton, the perseverance of  Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and determination of Abraham Lincoln.


1) What is your background? How does this background make you the better choice for representative?


I grew up in this district and attended Hopkins Public Schools from kindergarten through high school.  Some of my favorite memories include summers spent playing little league baseball at Big Willow (where I am probably in the running for the lowest all-time batting average) and riding my bike along the area’s many trails and through its parks.


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The Central Corridor reach of the Green Line light rail service begins shortly after the Saturday 9 a.m. ceremonial ribbon cutting at Saint Paul’s Union Depot and continues throughout the day with events at various stations.  I am amused that The Current radio station is producing a day-long line up of live music performances in celebration of the opening.  The broadcaster is owned and operated by Minnesota Public Radio which continues to haggle with the Met Council about vibrations caused by LRT trains passing by some of their Cedar Street studios.  The light rail project has paid for sound insulated windows and a special track bed featuring a concrete slab that “floats” on hard rubber pads to reduce vibrations.

An aside:  Me thinks that the MPR board and members should tar and feather the architects and MPR executives who chose to build studios on a street that has long been a candidate for light rail.

The 15.8-mile, southwest half of the Green Line from Target Field to west central Eden Prairie remains in the preliminary planning stage.  It is slated to begin operations in 2019.

The recommended preliminary plan to align light rail and freight rail through the Kenilworth corridor in Minneapolis or (during earlier considerations) routing freight rail through St. Louis Park, has so fascinated the scribes at the StarTribune and MinnPost and local television news assignment desks that Hopkins, Minnetonka and Eden Prairie have attracted minimal reportorial interest.  Journalistic coverage of southwest suburban light rail issues has only been generated by Sun and Eden Prairie News community weeklies and occasionally by the excellent Finance & Commerce.

That changed somewhat last week when MinnPost and a few other news outlets woke up and realized that the southwest light rail project was also passing through Minnetonka.  The City of Minnetonka held its SWLRT “municipal consent” public hearing on the preliminary route and station location within its boundaries on Monday June 2nd.  Residents and owners of the stately looking Claremont Apartment complex were among those who requested a slight re-route and an LRT station.

The current alignment in their neighborhood cuts along the top of a forested escarpment within earshot of the south side of the rambling apartment complex.  Even though residents and owners have had more than a decade’s worth of SWLRT community meetings to lobby for an alignment and (more recently) a chance to sit on the project’s citizens advisory committee, it seems that few if any of them were dutiful in representing their interests in an ongoing manner to City of Minnetonka and SWLRT planners.

That said, the purpose of the municipal consent hearings in each of the five SWLRT cities is to provide residents and businesses at this early stage of the project another formal opportunity to comment on track alignments and station locations to possibly make them better.  Both elements, of course, are subject to environmental, cost, safety, engineering and political concerns.  Minnetonka Mayor Terry Schneider and his City Council colleagues and staff will seriously consider the Claremont requests but unlike Minneapolis, Minnetonka will not stop the entire light rail project for a local problem that is either unsolvable or could be fixed after the municipal consent votes.

The Strib and Finance & Commerce also reported on the Minnetonka hearing but they and the rest of the regional media ignored the far livelier municipal consent hearing in Eden Prairie on May 22.  The embedded video is my take on that hearing and is featured in the current edition of Democratic Visions, the independent, cable access and Internet program I produce with help from other un-paid volunteers.  (See below for cable schedule.)

I was interested in the tone and content of my hometown’s municipal consent hearing.  With our in-your-face, right wing Republican Party and Tea Party operatives, Eden Prairie politics are edgier than those of our suburban neighbors.  EP right wingers have attacked light rail as vigorously as the anti-light rail, DFL insiders and PBS liberals along the Kenilworth Corridor.   Who would have thunk it? –  Bill Moyers-viewing NIMBY’s in Kenwood and Fox-TV News addicts in Eden Prairie on missions with the same goal – kill light rail.  From reading their respective rants light rail, one can assume that light rail transit would be as sure an end to La Vida Buena Minnesota as an Al Qaeda take over of the Aquatennial.

Municipal consent kinds of public hearings do attract folks who have reasonable requests for change as well as the smug, self-involved, anti-government, Bill O’Reilly populists of our times.  This was the case at the Eden Prairie hearing.  Local bullhorns Sheila Kihne, Donna Azarian, Frank Lorenz and Steve Smith spoke of their disdain for light rail.  Collectively, they were an unintended homage to that academe situated, Groucho Marx warbled tune “What ever it is I’m against it” from the 1932 comedy “Horse Feathers.”

The foursome and their confederates applauded one another after each one’s respective turn at the podium; it is one that faces the officious Eden Prairie City Council bench of department chiefs and electeds including the adept and cordial Mayor, Nancy Tyra-Lukens.  The LRT opponents did generate a few laughs but employed O’Reilly inspired rhetorical tricks.  Bill, however is a highly paid pro.

Attending the hearing too, was a smaller but much more realistic and reasonable crowd of pro-LRT representatives from Eden Prairie’s business and minority communities.  They and a majority of all Eden Prairians (according to a City of EP survey) do want light rail to serve Eden Prairie.


Democratic Visions Cable-TV Schedule –

Minneapolis – MTN Channel 16 – Sundays at 8:30 p.m., Mondays 3:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m.

Hopkins, Minnetonka, Edina, Richfield and Eden Prairie – Comcast Channel 15 – Sundays at 9 p.m., Mondays at 10:00 p.m. and Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m.

Bloomington – BCAT Cable Channel 16 – Tuesdays at 2:00 p.m. & 10:00 p.m.; Fridays at 9:30 p.m.; Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. & 2:30 p.m.

YouTube’s Democratic Visions Channel boasts nearly 200, finely produced videos

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Video: Sen. Bonoff on Education

by JeffStrate on September 27, 2012 · 2 comments

This summer, Senator Terri Bonoff spoke with Democratic Visions host Tim O’Brien mostly about education.  Democratic Visions is Minnesota’s best looking and sounding TV venue for lefties.  It is produced by volunteers through DFL Senate District 48.  Here’s the link to the Senator Bonoff segment:…


Moderate DFLer Yvonne Selcer is running a smart, full-blooded and effective campaign in her bid to recapture the Minnesota House seat now held by right wing Republican Kirk Stensrud.  That’s in my pocket of suburban paradise, northern Eden Prairie and southern Minnetonka.

Selcer, a former Hopkins School District board chair, explains the differences between herself and her opponent on Democratic Visions.  The DFL Senate District 48 cable TV series is arguably the best political issues program in Minnesota.

(direct link to YouTube)


M’tonka hearing on access TV tonight

by JeffStrate on August 6, 2012 · 0 comments

While the late, celebrated documentary film maker, NYU film professor and advocate for community television George Stoney is being paid tribute today in New York, a few unkown public access producers from Edina, Minnetonka, Richfield, Hopkins and Eden Prairie are preparing for a public hearing in Minnetonka tonight and another in Richfield a week from this evening.

At stake are public access production facilities and Cable Channel 15 in the SW ‘burbs.  Something called the Southwest Cable Commission, a joint city powers panel that meets twice a year, has put real community-based television at high risk – first by ignoring it for 15 years and now by recommending that it be dismantled, with a larger portion of future cable subscription fees for access going instead to each respective city.
The Manhattan Neighborhood Network (MNN) today will be streaming the George Stoney tribute over cable and on the Internet.   Beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Minnetonka Government Channel 16, the council meeting that includes the hearing on access television can be seen.

We producers will be making the case to re-make public access television in our area into, at the minimum, the kind of live and kicking service it is elsewhere in the Twin Cities metro region – one that is independent of municipal budgets, city council and school district politics and bureaucrats.  

The StarTribune published a good but partial story on our situation. Link-…

Be fully aware that attempts to mute true community cable casting by marginalizing its
public channels and striping away its studios — facilities where community groups of all flavors can do a program — will move into your city and neighborhood.

Those facilities now pump high quality messages and/or links into the kinetic blizzards of Tweets, blogs and Facebook likes, comments and shares.  Local cable casting may seem to be a limited, 1980’s concept by my bloggin’ colleagues, but in fact it is part of the mix and can not be turned off with a click or two at some distant bank of servers by the dark side – as can happen.  

You too will have to defend locally what George Stoney advocated for and what University Community Video at the U of Minn pioneered in the mid-1970’s:  an outlet for community voices on broadcast TV that didn’t need to sell beer and bras or an underwriter, oil company’s buffed-up image.

When Tony Orlando and Dawn got on the Dean Martin Show, UCV helped get my documentaries and satires onto KTCA-TV.  These days, our local access studio and Channel 15 has enabled local Democrats, Republicans, fire chiefs and Girl Scout troops to get their views and good works on cable and then into the new media.

Democratic Visions, the program I get to produce for DFL Senate District 48, is among the fare. It is also on YouTube at…


Video memoriam: Jackie Stevenson

by JeffStrate on April 24, 2012 · 0 comments

Minnetonka’s Jackie Stevenson passed away early Sunday.  She was again in charge of handling former DFL Senate District 43’s spring plant sale fundraiser.  Most every active Democrat in the metro area had heard of, or been at a meeting, a convention or a lit drop with Jackie Stevenson.  She was an activist and feminist and advisor on the life political most of her life.  We were able to post a short video memoriam on YouTube’s Democratic Visions Channel.  Here you go:…


Rep. John Benson: Mtka/Plymouth

by JeffStrate on March 31, 2012 · 0 comments

MN House Representative John Benson is running for re-election in his northern Minnetonka and southern Plymouth district.  John  is among the most knowledgeable, thoughtful, open and articulate legislators in Saint Paul.   He is a law maker who scrapes away the cheese and shuns the chest thumping noise in the House.   Follow the link to his current appearance with Tim O’Brien on Democratic Visions the public issues cable show I produce for the entire metro region through DFL Senate District 48.  Ohh yes, share this link with others.…



What a trip

by Joe Bodell on February 16, 2012 · 6 comments

As the man said, what a long, strange trip it’s been. Only it wasn’t all that long, and it wasn’t so much “strange” as “interesting from top to bottom, exhausting, and incredibly fulfilling”.

This past Tuesday, my name appeared on the ballot in a special election for a vacant seat on the Minnetonka City Council. There is exactly one part of the entire experience in which I am disappointed: I didn’t win. I lost by a pretty big margin — among five candidates who had resources and were making efforts to gather support, I came in a fairly distant fourth. Congratulations are due to Patty Acomb, who ran a great race and will soon take her place on the City Council!

I’m going to do some more blogging on these items, because of how incredibly interesting it was to see the process from a new angle, but herein are some of my initial thoughts on the challenges and achievements we experienced during the race:

  1. Establishment Support: In a city like Minnetonka, in the middle of February, in a special election, establishment support was key. The Mayor, several former Mayors, and almost everyone with a committee or board position at City Hall went with the candidate they knew to be a solid worker, a team player, and an engaged citizen. Without a built-in base of support, building up a winning vote total in three months is a tall order indeed
  2. Gender Politics: Going into this race, there were six men on the City Council, one open seat, and zero women. This presented a challenge, because a not-insignificant number of folks saw that state of affairs and decided that they were going to vote for a female candidate no matter what. This may come as a surprise, but I am not a female candidate, and there were two other viable choices in that demographic
  3. Campaign Experience Matters: Peggy Kvam appeared on the ballot along with me, having already run a race for the Ward 1 seat against incumbent Bob Ellingson last fall. The timing of this special election meant that Peggy essentially campaigned continuously from last Spring until Tuesday, which meant she already had a base of voter support, lawn signs, literature, and experience doorknocking and talking to voters. As with the above item, without those factors, building up a base of support in voters, volunteers, and dollars in three months is a significant roadblock. Peggy ended up coming in a close third to Patty Acomb and John Knight. Which brings us to my next point…
  4. Does Minnetonka even have a partisan split?: If you watch the League of Women Voters forum (I’ll find a link somewhere), it’s fairly clear who’s who and what despite the non-partisan nature of the race: four nominal DFLers, and one Republican. And that’s fine — I can honestly say I got a great first impression of all the candidates I hadn’t met previously, and am looking forward to getting together for a beer and a casual debriefing. But that one Republican, Mr. Knight, was the only candidate to appear before the GOP precinct caucuses on Feb. 7th, and based on what I heard at doors, likely got the vast majority of votes from folks who went in looking for a Republican to vote for.

    The other two leading candidates, Patty Acomb and Peggy Kvam, certainly got votes from some who might identify as Republicans, but racked up a much larger number of votes from self-identified DFLers. The “probably DFL” vote in this special election absolutely blew the “probably GOP” vote out of the water. A deep-red suburb Minnetonka ain’t. If anything, it must be said that Minnetonkans generally care a lot more about the community, our quality of life, and how city policies support those things than they do about the letter a candidate would put after their name if we did that sort of thing.

Despite these challenges, I truly am proud of what we were able to do in a very short period of time. We put together a small, committed group of volunteers to help me get the campaign up and running, we raised enough money to execute our plans, we were able to make thousands of phone calls, dropped thousands of pieces of literature across town, sent targeted mail, and got lawn signs out in great locations for visibility.

But of one thing I am most proud: that we gave people a reason to care about this election. Over at my campaign site I posted numerous messages from folks who emailed with questions, got a response they liked, and decided to support me. Some might not have voted had it not been for that communication, and it gives me a deep sense of pride to know that even a few neighbors saw something they liked about my candidacy, my platform, and my campaign, and cared enough about out community to go out and vote because of it.