In Little Canada, Minnesota, city council candidate Andrew Henderson, who launched his campaign after being arrested for recording in public, was recently endorsed by the biggest labor union in the area – the local branch of the AFL-CIO.

With six candidates running for two open city council seats, Henderson expects to win.

“I wouldn’t undertake an election campaign expecting to lose! Go for the win!” exclaimed Henderson. “Minnesota voters are smart – and unpredictable. These are the voters who elected Hubert Humphrey and Paul Wellstone – and Jesse Ventura. I believe the voters of Little Canada are ready for a fresh voice, fresh vision for their city.”

The Saint Paul Regional Labor Federation, AFL-CIO, with over 140 affiliated local unions representing over 50,000 union households, granted Henderson their endorsement on Oct. 14, 2014, for Henderson’s upcoming election for the position of Little Canada City Council. Henderson was invited to appear before an interview committee at the Federation’s St. Paul headquarters, and was notified of the official endorsement a short time later. Henderson, a proud member of IUE-CWA, Local 1140, was also in the news recently for boycotting a debate.

After the League of Women Voters called police to stop people from recording a candidates’ forum at Minnetonka City Hall last month, Henderson announced that “in good conscience, I am unable to participate in the Oct. 14 Little Canada City Council Candidates Forum.”

After his announcement, the League of Women Voters (LWV) moved into the 21st century, recognizing that people were allowed to record the upcoming debate, changing their policy which previously attempted to ban all cameras except for “credentialed media” while holding forums for public office in public spaces.

But Henderson stood by his boycott, even though it could have cost him votes.

“Yes, they said that they would allow recording at the Little Canada candidates debate, but it is about much more than that to me,” said Henderson. “It is about the policy in general and the fact that no one has been held accountable for blocking citizen journalist’s cameras or calling the police on people when all they are doing is exercising their first amendment rights. I could not ethically participate in a debate with an organization with a statewide policy like that.”

The Minnesota Bureau of Watchdog wrote about the September 30 debate forum in which police were called on people who wanted to record the debate.

Just minutes into the program, attention for the second time this week turned from candidates to a controversial recording ban, which, critics contend, conflicts with the democratic values espoused by the good government group.

Video trackers for three political groups, standing a few feet from the “No unauthorized video recording is allowed at this event” warning sign, filmed anyway.

Peggy Kvam, voter services chair for the LWV Minnetonka, Eden Prairie, Hopkins chapter, abruptly halted the proceedings and called police.

“We have a person here who refuses to quit recording. I’ve asked the police to escort him out,” Kvam said to audience applause. “We will not continue until we have people following our League of Women Voters policies.”

The self-described “nonpartisan political organization” fosters “informed and active participation in government” through strictly controlled candidate forums featuring a moderator, filtered audience questions and a ban on cameras, except for credentialed media.

So even though the League of Women Voters did an about-face for its October 14 debate forum, Henderson stuck to his guns.

In boycotting the debate, Henderson stood up for the First Amendment and the initial inspiration for his campaign.
“After spending 15 months defending my right to record public officials and being prosecuted by the City of Little Canada for doing so, this is a major issue for me,” said Henderson.
As for the city council position Henderson is running for, the winners in the last election needed just 2,850 votes and 2,780 votes. Little Canada is about five-square miles with a population just over 9,000, and Henderson has been attending community events, active on social media, distributing campaign literature, and talking to people he meets in the community to spread the word about his campaign.
“I’m relying on direct contact at community events plus social media, and I count on people spreading the word,” said Henderson.
When asked what else PINAC readers should know about him, Henderson released the following statement –
“PINAC readers may be familiar with me from my encounter with the City of Little Canada prosecuting me for filming members of the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office in the course of their duties and mistakenly think that’s why I’m running for office. (Short summary: Jury found me not-guilty; Little Canada spent nearly $8,000 attempting to collect a $50 fine.) I have been interested and involved in government going back to my junior high school years when I was a selected to serve on the State of Minnesota’s Governor’s Youth Council. During the past few years that I’ve lived in Little Canada, I’ve attended Little Canada City Council meetings and worked with the City Administrator to repeal an outdated (1953) city code (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6irXtOAvlh8&list=UU4viJJ8B4EwqxGHiO2ujSww). It was through these interests and participation that I developed an awareness of budgets and layers of bureaucracy and needless permits that can stand in the way of economic prosperity, business growth, and neighborhood stability. These are changes I hope to undertake as a city council member.”

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