By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minneapolis City Council’s 2020 call for defunding the police prompted a nationwide debate that is still going on. And, amid an ongoing crime surge, Minneapolis voters elected seven new council members.

WCCO’s Esme Murphy sat down with all seven and found that, while a political lean remains, there are also signs of cooperation.

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The group was first asked by Murphy whether they can pledge to work with each other and other council members to get a handle on the public safety crisis in our community.

“I do pledge to work with council members the new and the old we have to figure it out,” said Ward 3 winner, Michael Rainville, thought to be more moderate than Steve Fletcher, who was voted out.

Three young Democratic Socialists were also elected — Jason Chavez in Ward 9, Aisha Chughtai in Ward 10, and Robin Wonsley Worlobah in Ward 2. They too are on board with cooperation and meaningful police reform.

Chughtai, 24, said she will work to represent Uptown.

“I am looking forward to working with this group and the Mayor in helping achieve that,” she said.

Chavez, 26, will represent the riot-scarred district where George Floyd was murdered. He said working to address the public safety crisis is “what Ward 9 deserves.”

Newly elected LaTrisha Vetaw will represent North Minneapolis. She ousted a “defund the police” incumbent and won in a landslide of support from Black and white residents fed up with the crime in their backyards.

“This issue around public safety was the one thing dividing us and it should have been what was bringing us together,” she said.

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(credit: CBS)

There was recognition among the seven that battered business districts need help, from Nicollet Mall to Lake Street.

“We need to bring back the small businesses the Mom and Pop shops that are struggling that were burned to the ground,” Chavez said.

Voters did approve an amendment allowing rent control — 60% of Minneapolis residents are renters. An average two bedroom in the city rents for $2,500 a month.

“we have to be focusing on renters and we have to bring in a lot of voices,” Ward 11’s Emily Koski said.

Ward 10’s Aisha Chughtai said, “We need rent control in this city,” Chughtai said.

But the other issues eventually circled back to public safety. Among these new voices there is urgency.

“This is life and death,” Ward 1’s Elliott Payne said. “I think everyone here sincerely ran because they saw the crisis we were operating under.”

WCCO included Ward 2’s certified winner Wonsley Worlobaugh in our extended interview. She won by just 19 votes over Yusra Arab. Because of the slim margin, a publicly-funded recount will begin Friday.

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Esme Murphy