Whether campaigning in urban or rural legislative districts, political candidates who met certain criteria outlined in Minnesota statute are to have access to the "doors" of people living multiple unit dwellings. It's not a free-for-all however, as the law reasonable exceptions and steps for securing access.
On his personal Facebook page on Saturday, state senator Jim Carlson, DFL-Eagan, publicly shared an apology for his opponent's boorish behavior in trying to gain access to the Cinnamon Ridge Apartments in Eagan. Carlson writes:
I felt I had to apologize for my opponent's behavior today.
According to the police report, on October 14 at 4:00 PM, my opponent, Victor Lake called the Eagan Police to lodge a complaint against the manager of the Cinnamon Ridge Apartments. She was refusing to let him into the properties without first clearing it with the management.
Lake was rude and threatening and tried to bully his way by demanding immediate entry. The police responded and told him to call the management company to arrange entry on another day.
The manager said she was scared and intimidated. She noted that she is pregnant and did not feel safe with his threats. The police took her side against Lake and told her that he cannot bully his way into apartments on his terms.
I stopped there today to be sure there were no residual bad feelings that might reflect on our team. She effusively praised the Carlson team and even relayed her feelings to some new renters who were present. She also gave me a copy of the police report and said she had total support from her company.
Candidates behaving as Lake did damage to the reputation of present and future officeholders. The Carlson campaign apartment team, led by Jim Johnson, has always taken extra steps to work with apartment management, to maintain good relationships, build trust and protect the security and privacy of constituents who live in secured apartments.
Any candidate who violates that trust not only hurts all candidates but also those who work in support of candidates regardless of party. Victor Lake should be ashamed of himself and needs to get a grip on acceptable campaign behavior.
Bluestem asked Carlson for a copy of the police report which the manager had given to him, which we posted on scribd and embed below:
We smiled at the officer's notes:
 RP cited a state statute that allows political campaigns access to properties for political purposes. Petty misd if violated. I advised RP that he should make phone calls to property management corporate and arrange access to the property knowing full well that they would allow him the access he is seeking, he would just have to make the phone calls himself to arrange it.
The police officer isn't being snarky in that statement. The property manager might have feared being arrested, but Minnesota State Statute 211B.20 Denial of Access by Political Candidates to Multiple Unit Dwellings clearly spells out in Subdivision 2 exceptions:
Subdivision 1 does not prohibit:
(1) denial of admittance into a particular apartment, room, manufactured home, or personal residential unit;
(2) requiring reasonable and proper identification as a necessary prerequisite to admission to a multiple unit dwelling;
(3) in the case of a nursing home or a registered housing with services establishment providing assisted living services meeting the requirements of section 144G.03, subdivision 2, denial of permission to visit certain persons for valid health reasons;
(4) limiting visits by candidates or volunteers accompanied by the candidate to a reasonable number of persons or reasonable hours;
(5) requiring a prior appointment to gain access to the facility; or
(6) denial of admittance to or expulsion from a multiple unit dwelling for good cause.
Perhaps Lake should actually know the laws he waves around to intimidate people.
Team Carlson doorknocking rules build relationships
Carlson passed along the guidelines his campaign has developed for door knocking in apartment buildings and complexes:
We experience several levels of coordination and cooperation with the property managers in the district. One or two of us try to visit rental offices to build a trusting relationship with these folks who have make-or-break decision powers for me and for our doorknockers and lit distributors. There are many stories of resistance and success but “being nice” always pays off. The relationships vary from “super” to “wary.” We ask permission before scheduling at any secured buildings or unsecured living areas such as senior living properties.1. They provide pass keys to the front doors to all of their buildings and encourage providing information. We always promise to not litter and to respect concerns of anyone who asks how and why we were let in to the secured buildings or allowed to go door-to-door in unsecured locations.2. Some have a person walk with our people to open any locked door or to explain to any resident, why these people are in the building.3. Some ask for a driver’s license and give our people the passkeys.4. Some ask for a candidate to introduce the team members and put management at ease.5. Some ask for a candidate to be present at all times that a team is on site.6. Some will schedule a property employee to verify that all of the above are met and we are doing or limiting the activities as we promised.7. If a property manager is not aware of a commitment by their management, we go away and retry at another time. We are never confrontational or attempt to bully our way by waving the law in front of their face. We do carry copies of the law in cases where the person may not be familiar with the appointments we have made.
From the sounds of it, voter contact is viewed not just as an opportunity to win a vote for the senator, but to build relationships as well.
Photo: Winter is coming and so is Victor Lake, with a lot less warning. Photo via Politics in Minnesota.
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