Wikinews interviews candidate for Minneapolis mayor Philip Sturm

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Thursday, May 13, 2021

Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey on April 20, 2021.
Image: Tony Webster.

Wikinews extended invitations by e-mail in the first week of May to Philip Sturm, a candidate running in the mayoral election of the US city of Minneapolis, Minnesota set to take place November 2 alongside that for city council, two seats of the Board of Estimate and Taxation and nine seats of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. Sturm discussed information about his campaign and policies with Wikinews.

Philip Sturm in 2021.
Image: Philip Sturm.

Sturm is a veteran who served from 1999 to 2003 in the US Marine Corps, stationed on Okinawa Island, Japan before performing operations in the US invasion of Afghanistan and 2003 invasion of Iraq. According to his web site, Sturm has a career in "manufacturing and operations". According to his web site's 'civic vitae' section, Sturm was co-chair for the DFL (Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party), District 62 in 2005 and a member of Veterans for Kerry.

He was a volunteer special deputy in Hennepin County, Minnesota, a member of the 9-1-1 emergency helpline workgroup for the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD), the 9/11 and GWOT (Global War on Terrorism) Remembrance Task Force with the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs and the racial equity fund with H.B. Fuller.

According to Minneapolis' official website Jacob Frey won the last election in 2017 receiving 44.69% of the vote in the final round of voting. KSTP-TV reported Frey announced his run for re-election January 21. Sturm registered his candidacy on March 22.

Interview with Philip Sturm


Please introduce yourself: your history and background.

((Philip Sturm)) I'm Phil, 40 years old, married, white. Moved to Minneapolis in 2003 after being honorably discharged from the Marine Corps. Born in Memphis, TN [Tennessee] but grew up in the suburbs in Champlin, MN [Minnesota]. Graduated from Champlin Park High School in 1998. Went to Augsburg College for 2 years, but stopped going after the financial collapse to go back to work. I work in chemicals and manufacturing. Solidly middle class now. I volunteered as a Hennepin County Special Deputy in 2018–2019 to learn more about public safety, emergency management and community service. I was privileged to serve on the MPD/911 workgroup which studied and recommended pilot programs for alternative 911 responses other than police.

((WN)) What made you decide to run for Minneapolis Mayor?

((Philip Sturm)) During the rioting in 2020, one night the mayor and the governor were giving a press conference at 2 am. We watched online for two or three days as there was no government, no police and no safety. The governor is on the TV raving like a lunatic about Russian agents and drug cartels. I knew then that we were at the mercy of highly credentialed yet fundamentally incompetent people. This experience solidified in my mind a need and a growing burden to do something about it. We have been lurching from crisis to crisis at the hands of so-called experts who consistently fail upwards. And I'm tired of it.

The toppling of the Firdos Square statue of Saddam Hussein during the Battle of Baghdad, April 9, 2003.
Image: U.S. military or Department of Defense.

((WN)) Please elaborate on your military service.

((Philip Sturm)) Joined in February of 1999. Went to boot camp in San Diego, CA [California]. Trained as Combat Engineer. Spent first year in Okinawa. Was assigned to 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion on Camp Lejeune, NC [North Carolina] (Jacksonville NC). Was on leave when 9/11 happened. We were assigned to the 26th MEU [Marine Expeditionary Unit] with 3rd Battalion 6th Marines. We captured Kandahar Airport in Dec[ember] 2001, and began patrol and humanitarian operations in the area. Served under Gen[eral] [Jim] Mattis. Did a lot of mine and unexploded ordnance clearance.

Was stop-lossed in Jan[uary] 2003 as they were working up to invade Iraq. Was attached to 1st Battalion 4th Marines as lead engineer element for RCT 1 (Regimental Combat Team 1) under Colonel Dowdy. Gen[eral] Mattis relieved Col Dowdy for going around Al Kut instead of through it. I would've been one of the first into the city and would've probably been killed or injured if we went that route. I was responsible for reconning engineer assets, bridge capacities and neutralizing weapons caches, explosives and missiles, as we made our way north. I was sent back home soon after we reached Baghdad when everyone thought the war was over and everything was hunky dory.

((WN)) Why should Minneapolitans vote for you?

((Philip Sturm)) People should vote for me if they want to try something other than the carousel of lawyers, professionals and MBAs that consistently produce substandard results, yet live in a world of awards, back patting, compliments and "success". We are all suffering for it. I'm an empirically minded person with experience in an industry which demands actual results and you can't fake it. I understand how to lead martial organizations and the values needed to reign in those cultures when they're out of control. I am ready and willing to make the necessary enemies, and am not concerned primarily with maintaining professional reputations, contacts and networks so I can get a nice cushy non-profit, consulting, or lobbying job somewhere after being mayor.

((WN)) Your civic vitae says you resigned from the 9/11 and GWOT Remembrance Task Force [recently]. Why?

((Philip Sturm)) I didn't want a political run to distract from the work of the Task Force or bring negative attention to it, and to avoid seeming like I was using it as a campaign point.

Woman holds up sign advocating for community control of the Minneapolis Police Department in Minneapolis on February 25, 2021.
Image: Chad Davis.

((WN)) Your web site says "it is a falsehood that police just need good faith political allies to effect change [...] They [the Minneapolis police] do not view themselves as part of the community". Could you please elaborate?

((Philip Sturm)) We have listened to police chiefs, sheriffs, and unions now for years offer to "sit down" and work on reform "together". This is nothing but lies and stalling and media relations. They have no interest in sitting down with people who aren't cops and submitting to a reform process that isn't led by them. The ideology of the thin blue line, the practice of omerta, their new fangled flag all speak to an insular and autonomous culture operating in the grey zones of society. Part of the purpose of my campaign is to clarify where things stand, to say things that need saying, and to say those things other professional politicians can't say.

((WN)) Your web site also lists your promise to "systematically dismantle the culture of militarism which is prevailing in police today", adding "[w]here there is militarism there is racism." Could you please elaborate?

((Philip Sturm)) Given my experience in the Marine Corps, I was interested in our organizational history during the Banana Wars. I read a work by a social scientist who studied the effect of colonizing and occupying the global south on social trends in general. This work studied how the Marine Corps occupation of Haiti under Woodrow Wilson exacerbated racism, produced new stereotypes, and increased chauvinist impulses in society. It elucidated the contradiction between trying to "help" other nations by militarily occupying them, while back at home racism against those people increases as a result of conflict. We see the same thing today in the aftermath of occupying Iraq and Afghanistan. We are there ostensibly to "help", but in our helping it foments and fosters a militaristic and xenophobic culture back home.

Militarism is appropriate in military settings. It is inappropriate outside of the military. Militarizing the police leads us to the same contradictions we see in global geopolitics: we are there ostensibly to "help" people in poor neighborhoods, but the occupying of those neighborhoods simply leads to an increasingly racist culture within the police force and the suburban/exurban cultures which support them.

((WN)) Your web site mentions a potential shift in tax burdens "as necessary to address long standing economic disparities, as no cost is too great to achieve justice and equality." Could you please elaborate?

((Philip Sturm)) By providing sales tax relief and other forms of tax relief to oppressed neighborhoods the tax levy burden would automatically shift by default to other areas of the city, with more money and wealth.

((WN)) On housing, you have voiced support on your web site for "a tenant right to purchase, pay to quit notice and eviction protections, as well as rent stabilization." Could you please elaborate?

((Philip Sturm)) I support a yearly rent cap based on inflation plus a set percentage (something around 5%). In light of the pandemic I support efforts to keep people in housing and making landlords whole under some sort of program afforded by federal relief.

((WN)) What does Minneapolis lack under Mayor Jacob Frey you hope to supplement?

((Philip Sturm)) What I will bring is a more down to earth, empirically based, skeptical point of view to a self-reinforcing professional community that lacks insight into their blind spots, failures and limitations.

Raymond Dehn with supporters on July 8, 2017.
Image: Tony Webster.

((WN)) Who did you support in the 2017 Minneapolis mayoral election, if anyone?

((Philip Sturm)) I supported Raymond Dehn.

Erin Murphy with supporters at the Twin Cities Pride Parade on June 24, 2018.
Image: Tony Webster.
Tim Walz with supporters, also at the Twin Cities Pride Parade on June 24, 2018.
Image: Tony Webster.

((WN)) Who did you support in the 2018 Minnesota gubernatorial election, if anyone?

((Philip Sturm)) I supported Erin Murphy and voted for [Tim] Walz.

Bernie Sanders at a rally in St. Paul, Minnesota on March 2, 2020.
Image: Lorie Shaull.
Joe Biden at a rally in Falcon Heights, Minnesota on October 30, 2020.
Image: Lorie Shaull.

((WN)) Who did you support in the 2020 United States presidential election, if anyone?

((Philip Sturm)) I supported Bernie Sanders and voted for [Joe] Biden.

((WN)) The Star Tribune reported in 2019 only 37% of low-income Minnesota students were proficient in maths and reading, and only 67% of African-American students graduated high school, compared to 88% of white students. How will you address this, if elected?

((Philip Sturm)) The most effective thing we can do in concert with the school board is work on stable housing and food security. There is already work being done in this area between the city and the schools. Housing policies can more generally support low income and African American communities by reducing instability, uncertainty and the churn of changing schools and always moving and being shuffled around from lease to lease, which negatively impacts student learning and vitality.

((WN)) According to 2020 Census Data, the median black family in the Twin Cities area has a median income of $38,178 a year, compared to the median white income of $84,459; Minnesota as a whole has the biggest income inequality of any state. How will you address this, if elected[?]

((Philip Sturm)) We need to continue supporting living wage polices, enforcement of sick and leave time, and promote stable long term housing solutions which really give people a chance to get on top of bills and start saving some. We should pursue institutional cooperation with Fortune 500 companies and educational organizations willing to sustain technical and trades education to support our manufacturing industries in the area (medical device, semi-conductor, plastics, prototyping, etc.)

((WN)) How will you handle the vaccine rollout, if elected?

No answer was provided.

((WN)) Hennepin County has confirmed over 120,000 cases of COVID-19 and over 1,700 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. How will you address this, if elected?

No answer was provided.

((WN)) What distinguishes yourself from the other candidates?

No answer was provided.

((WN)) If you could not vote for yourself, who would you vote for, if anyone?

((Philip Sturm)) Undecided, but I generally support AJ Awed.

((WN)) What are some reasons people may not vote Sturm?

((Philip Sturm)) Not enough government executive experience. Another white male running for office, etc.

((WN)) What do you picture Minneapolis looking like in 2025 under your leadership?

No answer was provided.

Omar Bradley with US president John F. Kennedy on October 18, 1963.
Image: Abbie Rowe.
Hubert Humphrey with Coretta Scott King and Martin Luther King, Jr. on December 17, 1964.
Image: United States Library of Congress.
Dwight D. Eisenhower at the 1964 Republican National Convention on July 13.
Image: Warren K. Leffler.

((WN)) Which historical figure do you most admire?

((Philip Sturm)) I am an avid history reader and it changes with whatever I'm currently reading and studying. Overall I would say that I admire Omar Bradley as I strongly identify with his leadership style, personality, and example of calm, polite, level-headed executive style. I often identify with people who aren't immediately identified as leaders or successful, but when the shit hits the fan, they outperform their peers. It reflects my experience in the military as I wasn't recognized until I excelled under fire, and my occupational knowledge and competence helped me lead when others weren't expecting it.

I look to Hubert Humphrey as an example to counterbalance my cynicism, as he was the "happy warrior", and we could all be more positive in politics.

A related quote that I like: "This is a long tough road we have to travel. The men that can do things are going to be sought out just as surely as the sun rises in the morning. Fake reputations, habits of glib and clever speech, and glittering surface performance are going to be discovered." -Dwight Eisenhower

((WN)) Anything else you would like to say?

No answer was provided.


This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.