Lisa Bender

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Lisa Bender
President of the Minneapolis City Council
In office
January 8, 2018 – January 3, 2022
Preceded byBarb Johnson
Succeeded byAndrea Jenkins
Member of the Minneapolis City Council
from the 10th Ward
In office
January 6, 2014 – January 3, 2022
Preceded byMeg Tuthill
Succeeded byAisha Chughtai
Personal details
Elizabeth Peterson

Shoreview, Minnesota, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic (DFL)
Alma materUniversity of Minnesota (BA)
University of California, Berkeley (MA)
OccupationCity Planner
WebsiteOfficial website

Elizabeth Peterson "Lisa" Bender is an American politician, city planner, and a former member of the Minneapolis City Council from the 10th Ward. In 2018, she was unanimously elected president of the Minneapolis City Council.

Early life and education[edit]

Bender completed a bachelor's degree from the University of Minnesota in Spanish and Biology.[1] She received her master's degree in City and Regional Planning from University of California, Berkeley[1] in 2007.


Early career[edit]

In 2001, she moved to New York City and worked as the Communications Director for the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, traveling across the world advocating for biking, walking, and non-motorized transportation.

Bender worked for the City of San Francisco as a city planner before returning to Minnesota in 2009 where she worked for Hennepin County before moving to the Minnesota Department of Transportation to manage Minnesota's Safe Routes to School program. She co-founded the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition, an advocacy organization working to make riding a bike safer in Minneapolis.[2][3]

In 2012, Bender decided to challenge incumbent Meg Tuthill for the DFL endorsement for a seat on the Minneapolis City Council representing the city's 10th Ward.[4] After six ballots and five hours, she secured the party's endorsement over Tuthill and two other challengers. She defeated Tuthill in the general election on November 5, 2013 with 62.4% of the vote.[5][6]

Minneapolis City Council[edit]

Bender was sworn into office on January 6, 2014.[7] She was named chair of the city's Zoning and Planning Committee, one of only two first-term council members to chair a standing committee of the council.[8]

Bender being interviewed by a reporter on November 19, 2015, outside the Minneapolis Police Department's Fourth Precinct during the fifth night of demonstrations following the shooting death of Jamar Clark.

During her first term, Bender focused on creating a safe transportation system for pedestrians, expanding affordable housing choices, fighting for workers protections and higher wages, supporting community and environmental health, and restructuring the public safety apparatus.[9][10] She authored the city's complete streets ordinance, protected bikeway update to the Bicycle Master Plan, accessory dwelling unit ordinance and landmark paid sick leave ordinance, establishing Minneapolis as the first city in the Midwest guaranteeing workers the ability to accrue up to 48 hours of sick and safe time each year.[11][12][13] In 2015, she authored an ordinance eliminating or reducing the minimum parking requirement for new residential developments along high-frequency transit routes.[14][15] The Obama Administration highlighted Bender's parking reform ordinance in its 2016 Housing Development Toolkit as a successful initiative to lessen housing costs, reduce pollution, traffic congestion, and improve economic development.[16]

In addition to serving as the chair of the Zoning and Planning Committee during her first term, Bender sat on the Committee of the Whole, the Elections and Rules Committee, the Health, Environment, and Community Engagement Committee, the Taxes Committee, the Transportation and Public Works Committee, and the Ways and Means Committee.[17]

She was named L'Etoile Magazine's MVP of the year in 2015.[18] In 2016, she was named one of Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal's People to Watch.[19][20]

On April 22, 2017, Bender was endorsed by the DFL for a second term.[21] Bender won her re-election campaign on November 7, 2017, making her the first incumbent in over 20 years to do so in the ward.[22]

Following the 2017 elections, Bender was unanimously elected by her colleagues as the new President of the Minneapolis City Council.[23]

Bender also sat as the vice-chair of the Transportation and Public Works Committee, the Elections and Rules Committee, and the Executive Committee, along with being a member of the Zoning and Planning Committee, the Budget Committee, the Housing Policy and Development Committee, the Committee of the Whole, and the Intergovernmental Relations Committee.[24]

After the city sent warnings to homeowners about a crackdown on shoveling enforcement, Bender accused the Star Tribune of sexism when their reporter found she was the only City Council member who had complaints against her (seven were recorded) and a fine ($149) for un-shoveled walks. The city had sent and paid a shoveler to clear her sidewalks.[25]

In June 2020, in response to the murder of George Floyd and subsequent protests, Bender and a veto proof majority of the City Council attended a community meeting at Powderhorn Park. At the meeting, Bender said, "Our commitment is to end our city's toxic relationship with the Minneapolis Police Department, to end policing as we know it, and to re-create systems of public safety that actually keep us safe."[26] From that meeting, she started a process to dismantle and abolish the Minneapolis Police Department.[27] The police abolition movement in Minneapolis, as with similar movements nationally, remains controversial. Steven Belton, the Black CEO and President of the Urban League Twin Cities, called the move irresponsible and accused council members of failing to consult with the Black community, particularly those on the North Side.[28]

Bender also received criticism for an on-air interview with CNN's Alisyn Camerota in which Bender called for "a future without police." Camerota then asked: "What if in the middle of night, my home is broken into? Who do I call?" Bender replied: "Yes, I mean, I hear that loud and clear from a lot of my neighbors. And I know – and myself, too, and I know that that comes from a place of privilege. Because for those of us for whom the system is working, I think we need to step back and imagine what it would feel like to already live in that reality where calling the police may mean more harm is done."[29]

Bender was one author of a proposed charter amendment that would have replaced the "complete control" over police policy granted to the Mayor by the charter with the same structure that allows for council oversight of other departments.[30] The city's Charter Commission, a county-appointed board, voted to delay 90 days to propose alternatives, effectively delaying the ballot measure until the 2021 city-wide election.[31] Despite her efforts, the proposed charter amendment did not get voted in during the 2021 Minneapolis City Council election, and her attempts to disband the Minneapolis Police Department failed.[32]

Bender announced she would not seek reelection to the city council in 2021,[33] and was replaced by Aisha Chughtai.[34]

Personal life[edit]

Lisa Bender at a campaign event in 2013

Bender is a year-round bicycle commuter.[35]

In 2010, Bender was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer 11 weeks into her first pregnancy. She has since recovered.[36]

Three weeks before election day, Bender gave birth to her second daughter in October 2013.[37]

In the 2016 Democratic Party presidential primaries, Bender was the only elected official in Minneapolis to endorse the Bernie Sanders campaign.[38] She served as the campaign's surrogate before the local media on caucus night when Sanders won Minnesota and was elected to be a delegate at the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.[39][40] Bender later supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 general election and Elizabeth Warren in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary.[41]

Electoral history[edit]

Minneapolis City Council Ward 10 election, 2013[42]
Political party/principle Candidate % 1st Choice Round 1
DFL Lisa Bender 62.43 3,704
DFL Meg Tuthill 29.19 1,732
Independent Nate Griggs 3.81 226
Independent Scott Hargarten 1.62 96
Maximum possible threshold 2,967
Total Ballots Cast 5,933
Minneapolis City Council Ward 10 election, 2017[43]
Political party/principle Candidate % 1st Choice Round 1
DFL Lisa Bender 64.34 4,883
DFL Saralyn Romanishan 20.57 1,561
DFL David Schorn 9.34 709
Republican Bruce Lundeen 5.48 416
Maximum possible threshold 5,933
Total Ballots Cast 7911
Undervotes 322


  1. ^ a b "Lisa Bender (Minnesota)". Ballotpedia. Retrieved December 24, 2023.
  2. ^ "Who We Are". Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition. Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition. Retrieved January 16, 2017.
  3. ^ Walker, Peter (June 21, 2016). "Minneapolis tries to topple Portland as America's most cycle-friendly city". The Guardian.
  4. ^ Halter, Nick (April 27, 2013). "Bender wins DFL endorsement in Ward 10". Southwest Journal. Southwest Journal.
  5. ^ "2013 Election Results - Minneapolis Elections & Voter Services".
  6. ^ Editorial Board (November 6, 2013). "Youth, diversity win big in Minneapolis election". Star Tribune. Star Tribune.
  7. ^ McKenzie, Sarah (January 6, 2014). "Inauguration day in Minneapolis". Southwest Journal. Southwest Journal.
  8. ^ Roper, Eric (January 7, 2014). "Mayor Hodges, city council off to a raucous start in Minneapolis". Star Tribune. Star Tribune.
  9. ^ Golden, Erin. "From parking lots to protests, Council Member Lisa Bender seeks to transform Minneapolis". Star Tribune. Star Tribune.
  10. ^ "Accomplishments". Retrieved January 16, 2017.
  11. ^ Callahan, Peter (May 27, 2016). "Minneapolis approves 'landmark' paid sick leave law". MinnPost.
  12. ^ Wolski, Mark (May 27, 2016). "Minneapolis Mandates Paid Sick Leave for Workers". Bloomberg News.
  13. ^ Golden, Erin (July 10, 2015). "Plan for 30 miles of protected bike lanes gets Mpls council approval". Star Tribune.
  14. ^ Stromberg, Joseph (July 15, 2015). "Minneapolis has a surprisingly simple plan to cut traffic and make housing more affordable". Vox.
  15. ^ Cohen, Josh (July 20, 2015). "Minneapolis Chooses Affordable Housing Over Parking". NextCity. NextCity.
  16. ^ "Housing Development Toolkit" (PDF). September 2016 – via National Archives. Cities such as Denver, Minneapolis and New York City have also demonstrated success in taking on minimum parking requirements – Denver lowered parking minimums for low income housing, Minneapolis reduced requirements near transit stops, and New York City eliminated parking requirements for affordable housing located within ½ mile of a subway entrance.
  17. ^ "Council Member Assignments" (PDF). City of Minneapolis.
  18. ^ Jones, Mike. "A Few Of Our Favorite Things: The Best Of 2015 | l'etoile".
  19. ^ Halter, Eric (December 23, 2015). ""2016 People to Watch: Lisa Bender"". Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.
  20. ^ Halter, Nick (December 23, 2015). "2016 People to Watch: Lisa Bender". Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.
  21. ^ Belz, Adam. "Minneapolis City Council incumbents face challenges, defeat at DFL ward conventions". Star Tribune.
  22. ^ "Frey leads on election night". November 7, 2017.
  23. ^ Williams, Brandt (January 8, 2018). "Newly sworn-in Minneapolis council chooses Lisa Bender for president". MPR.
  24. ^ "Standing Committee Resolution" (PDF). City of Minneapolis.
  25. ^ Du, Susan (November 30, 2018). "Lisa Bender accuses Star Tribune of sexism because she doesn't shovel her sidewalk". City Pages. Retrieved November 30, 2018.
  26. ^ "Minneapolis City Council announces intent to disband police department". June 7, 2020.
  27. ^ "What Would Dismantling Minneapolis' Police Department Look Like?".
  28. ^ "On Minneapolis' North Side, residents question calls to defund police". Star Tribune. Retrieved July 15, 2020.
  29. ^ " - Transcripts". Retrieved July 15, 2020.
  30. ^ "2020-00668 - Community Safety and Violence Prevention charter amendment".
  31. ^ "Minneapolis Charter Commission blocks controversial policing proposal from November ballot". Star Tribune.
  32. ^ Panetta, Grace (November 2, 2021). "Minneapolis voters reject making consequential changes to the city's police force". Retrieved January 13, 2022.
  33. ^ "Minneapolis Council President Lisa Bender won't seek re-election". Star Tribune.
  34. ^ "2021 Election Results". Retrieved January 13, 2022.
  35. ^ Meinch, Timothy (January 16, 2016). "How frozen Minneapolis became a biking mecca". Des Moines Register. Des Moines Register.
  36. ^ "After mom's cancer, baby born healthy: 'She's perfect'". The Today Show. NBC. July 4, 2011.
  37. ^ LaVecchia, Olivia (October 15, 2013). "City Council candidate Lisa Bender welcomes baby girl one month before election | City Pages". City Pages.
  38. ^ Stassen-Berger, Rachel (February 29, 2016). "Bernie Sanders asks Minnesota to help him 'make history'". Pioneer Press.
  39. ^ Sweeney, Emily (March 2, 2016). "Sanders takes Minnesota's DFL caucus". TommieMedia. University of St. Thomas.
  40. ^ Brodey, Sam (July 25, 2016). "In opening moments of convention, Democratic unity seems elusive". MinnPost. MinnPost.
  41. ^ Deninger, Madeline. "Warren draws crowd of 12,000 at first MN campaign stop". Bring Me The News. Retrieved July 6, 2021.
  42. ^ "2013 City Council Ward 10 Election Results - Minneapolis Elections & Voter Services".
  43. ^ "2017 City Council Ward 10 Election Results - Minneapolis Elections & Voter Services".