Issues and Positions
Each month I work with hundreds of residents to help resolve problems that affect their lives. Some are simple and easy fixes, such as getting Public Works to go back and plow a street that was missed. Others are complex and involve years of painstaking work, such as restoring peace to a block reeling from a problem property. Compared to some of the citywide issues we are dealing with, these may not seem like big issues, but I know that they are big issues in the lives of those they affect, and collectively add up across our ward. That’s why I take pride in providing a high-level of constituent service and directly advocating for our residents.
This extends into my accessibility and responsiveness. Since being elected, I have hosted hundreds of weekly open office hours at local coffee shops, where residents can stop by unscheduled to discuss whatever they’d like (temporarily paused due to the pandemic). I love attending block-level gatherings, and am happy to join you and your neighbors if you’re ready to schedule a time. Our office responds to virtually all emails. And I send detailed newsletter updates in my own words. This might not sound revolutionary, but it takes real dedication, and it makes a real difference.
I have voted to fully fund hiring of additional officers. We need police as part of our system and need adequate staffing to respond to 911 calls and investigate crimes.
I have also voted to create an office of violence prevention, invest upstream to address the root causes of violence, and have led efforts to establish alternative responses where safe and appropriate.
That latter effort, alternative responses, is something I have led on beginning in 2018 when I established the 911 Workgroup which brought officers
and community together to develop recommendations to respond more efficiently and effectively to calls (where safe and appropriate). As a result of this work,
a citywide mental health responder program will be rolling out by the end of the year. This work also resulted in transferring over "report-only" calls to civilians, which accounted for
15% of total work volume (equivalent to freeing up 85 officers worth of time!)
We must continue working to address public safety concerns in a more comprehensive way through a public health approach. MPD as an institution also has been deeply dysfunctional, and
we must go beyond the incremental reforms that our current structure reinforces if we are to truly change the culture and improve the outcomes.
Public safety is a core role of any city, and everyone deserves to feels safe, both in community and when interacting with law enforcement.
Overall this is a big topic, which is why I’ve written an extensive blog post on my position and work, which you can read here.
You can read how I voted during the recent budget process here. You can also read my thoughts on the charter amendment here.
Before the first major encampment formed, I was fighting to create housing for unsheltered residents right here in Ward 12.
Those efforts led to the first new public housing project in Minneapolis in a decade,
which is exclusively for families transitioning out of homelessness (Minnehaha Townhomes).
And we recently broke ground on two more projects that will create dozens of units for those experiencing homelessness (Amber Apartments and Snelling Yards).
Beyond working to create affordable housing in the ward, I have used my role as Intergovernmental Relations Chair to
advocate for greater funding to address the crisis; brought colleagues together to pursue new housing models (Envision Community); and led
the push for more transparency over our response through the launching of a website. I will continue
fighting for safe and dignified housing for all residents.
With significant demand to live in Minneapolis, there is simply no way to address affordability without increasing the supply of housing.
There are real tradeoffs when it comes to projects (i.e. you can’t have smaller buildings with more parking while also expecting lower rents).
There are also legal restrictions which prevent the City from dictating many elements of a proposal, such as whether a project is condominiums or rentals.
It is important for candidates to acknowledge these market realities and legal restrictions.
I am proud of the work we have done to improve affordability, including: record levels of funding to create affordable housing, deepening affordability levels, investing in the land trust model and preserving naturally occurring affordable housing,
prohibiting income discrimination, inclusionary zoning for more mixed-income housing, the 4D program, legalizing single-room occupancy, moving forward several innovative new housing models, and more.
In the years ahead, I think we should expand opportunities for ownership through existing programs so that more individuals and families can build equity and close the wealth gap. We must continue creating additional safe and dignified housing units for those experiencing homelessness (see section on homelessness for more).
Beginning the process of developing a rent stabilization policy (question 3) with all stakeholders at the table (which I support) will help those who face double-digit annual increases in rent. I’ll also continue in my role as Intergovernmental Relations Chair to lobby partners at a state and federal level to help improve affordability.
I am proud to be endorsed by Sierra Club and MN350 Action for my record of working to address climate change. We need to build on existing efforts and keep identifying new opportunities. For instance, I have been leading efforts to electrify our city's fleet of vehicles and supported aggressive goals for reaching 100% renewable energy use; fought for policies that help reduce the per capita environmental footprint and have been advocating for sustainable building standards; successfully pushed for pilot projects to localize stormwater retention/treatment and made it easier to produce food locally; I've been leading efforts to make our sidewalks more accessible year-round (snow/ice clearance) and using my role as Intergovernmental Relations Chair to help secure more funding for transit projects; approved a green bonds program and authored legislation requiring commercial businesses to provide recycling/composting.
As we look ahead, it will be critical to keep building on these efforts and see those through which are still in-progress. We should continue working to implement an inclusive financing program so that it’s as easy as possible for property owners to install solar panels and make energy efficiency improvements; expand the usage of district energy systems which open the door for greener technologies, greater efficiencies, and other benefits from economies of scale; and invest more in green job programs. The climate crisis is only beginning and we must do our part to avert the more costly and consequential road of inaction.
The civil unrest during the uprising destroyed access to essential goods and services for some of the most vulnerable and marginalized residents in our state, along with jobs and housing that many individuals and families relied on to survive. We must build back stronger than before, and in doing so, ensure that those who want to return are able to without being displaced.
I led the effort to waive city fees and expedite approvals to aid in recovery efforts, worked to bring together a coalition of community partners and provide formal recognition and support for community-led rebuild efforts, and worked with our Intergovernmental Relations team to secure tens of millions in aid to help our small businesses and corridors rebuild. I will continue working hand-in-hand with the community to rebuild.
I am a former small business owner and brought that perspective with me to City Hall. As a result, I have been a leading champion for helping our small businesses.
This includes leading the efforts to establish the Small Business Office, the small business portal, clean up dozens of regulations, and help quite a few small businesses open and grow.
It’s work I’m passionate about.
I am working on additional ordinances to help small businesses, such as making permanent the expansion of patio spaces due to the pandemic, and will continue to bring the small business voice to the table.
Racial Justice and Equity
We know local government actions over the past 150+ years have contributed in significant ways to the racial disparities of today.
The first step in addressing this is to be more mindful over new actions so that they do not cause future harm,
which is why I was proud to support requiring a racial equity impact analysis on all legislative actions.
We also passed a strategic racial equity plan to produce better outcomes; this means being more intentional about diversifying the city’s workforce, utilizing diverse suppliers, leveraging data, and better engaging communities of color.
Advancing racial equity also requires investing more in communities that have historically been disinvested in as a way to help correct harms from past actions.
Such external action takes the form of job training, business support, affordable housing, and public health and safety initiatives in communities of color.
I am proud to be leading on this work, from co-authoring our Green Zones resolution, to expansion of restorative justice initiatives that help disrupt the criminalization of young children of color.
I will continue to build on our strategic racial equity plan, ensure equitable funding in our investments, and advance legislative action to address disparities.
It's important that we keep working to make our city safer, easier, and more comfortable to get around for all residents.
This takes many forms. A particular passion of mine has been making our sidewalks more accessible year-round (snow/ice clearance); this includes better education, proactive enforcement, and more support for those physically or financially unable to clear their sidewalks.
I've also supported enhanced city corner-clearing, clearing of pedestrian priority corridors, and led efforts to study what it would take for citywide municipal snow clearing.
My policy work also includes helping speed up ADA ramp upgrades. I am proud of the policies we've passed as a Council, from the Transportation Action Plan and Complete Streets, to Vision Zero.
Using my role as Intergovernmental Relations Chair, I have worked to secure more funding for transit projects. I also am vice-chair of the Northern Lights Express Alliance (the high-speed rail project between Minneapolis and Duluth).
There is a lot of additional transit work that I have been proud to be a part of, and I will continue to prioritize investments into street redesigns that improve safety and navigability,
as well as working with our multijurisdictional partners to advance better public transit service through additional routes and upgrades (along with signal prioritization and dedicated lanes where appropriate).
2040 Comp Plan
Given the monumental challenges before us – climate change threatening our way of life, some of the worst racial disparities in the nation, and an affordable housing crisis, we needed to do more than rubber stamp the previous Comp Plan; we needed to revisit all policy areas and seriously consider the causes of problems we face today and how we might work to address them during this next cycle of policy work.
With such a truly comprehensive effort, there are inevitably parts of both the plan and the process around it which I have mixed-feelings on. I spent hundreds of hours listening to thousands of opinions, did a ton of research, and brought forward more amendments than any other Council Member. These ranged from implementing technology solutions along Highway 55 that will improve signal timing and relieve traffic congestion, to analysis of property tax trend impacts on homeowners and developing plans to mitigate impacts (particularly for those with low or fixed incomes). Other amendments of mine included improving our recycling efforts and working to ensure every resident has access to high-speed fiber optic internet, to significantly improving snow and ice clearance from sidewalks and going further in supporting our locally-owned small businesses. Overall it's a good plan and we will continue to closely monitor results and make adjustments as needed.
For more details, please check out my official blog post here.