Samuels and Omar clash over public safety

Former Minneapolis City Councilman and former Minneapolis School Board member Don Samuels likes to talk about a wide variety of issues, but the voters he talks to usually have one main issue in mind.

“I knock on the door, the first thing I say is hello, I’m Don Samuels, I’m running for Congress. What’s your number one problem? They say, ‘public safety, public safety, public safety. ‘

Samuels says he thinks the question gives him a shot at an upset victory over Democratic incumbent Ilhan Omar, who was a leading supporter of the “defund the police” movement.

Several local supporters of Omar defended his record at a press conference on Monday afternoon.

“I have long heard Congresswoman Omar advocate for a more holistic and balanced approach to public safety that includes community engagement,” said Robert Lilligren, a former Minneapolis City Councilman who served on the council with Samuels.

Lilligren was joined by other former city council members and teachers who support Omar. Omar did not attend the press conference.

Samuels says he’s encouraged by the demographics of those who voted early last week. He says the majority are older voters who tend to be most concerned about public safety. However, as of Friday, only 108,000 early votes had been cast. In 2020, more than 543,000 advance votes were cast.

Secretary of State Steve Simons said the high turnout for early and mail-in voting in 2020 was largely due to the pandemic.

“We have the vaccine, we have different protocols,” he said. “I suspect, my gut tells me, it’s mostly a different place with COVID. We’re not going to see that many people wanting to vote from home. »

Polling stations open at 7 a.m. Tuesday and close at 8 p.m.