Issues

Please contact me if you have questions about specific issues that are not covered. Thank you!

TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Education
Small Businesses
Airport Noise
Urban Farming
Cyclist-Friendly
Transit
Crime
Firefighters
Restorative Justice
Civil Rights
Affordable Housing
Property Taxes
Racial Equity
Minneapolis Animal Care & Control
Municipal Energy


 

Vikings Stadium? I believe it should have gone on the ballot for voters to decide.

Municipal Energy? I do not support any effort to municipalize without putting it on the ballot for voters to decide, and would require beforehand that it is proven more affordable, reliable, and sustainable for residents.

Education

While there is a separate and independent school board for Minneapolis, the city council can improve the quality of our education system in many ways. This issue is near and dear to my heart, as I built a non-profit website which provides teachers across the nation with high-quality curriculum free or charge.

My education plan:

  1. Create more opportunities after school and over the summer for youth to take on apprenticeships, learn new skills, and have a pipeline into careers
  2. Shrink the achievement gap by addressing the root causes, from food and social justice issues, to community safety and the economic opportunities available to families
  3. Help get students back on the right track when they stray by increasing funding for restorative justice programs and better integrate them into the community and our schools
  4. Increase support for early childhood education programs and organizations within our community
  5. Improve access to mental health and substance abuse programs for youth
  6. Reduce classroom sizes and improve the learning environment by working with the school board and park board to fully-fund school renovations, remodels, and expansions
  7. Leverage qualified volunteers to assist students who need extra help that classroom teachers are not always able to provide
  8. Explore the possibility of utilizing the city's Wi-Fi to provide free access to an education portal for all residents

Finally, one personal goal I would like to share... I wish to see every child have the chance to get their hands in the soil and learn where their food comes from. To grow one's food, to connect with it and learn how to prepare it, will setup an entire generation for healthy eating habits and impart the love of gardening on many if not most.

 

 

Small Businesses

Saying "I support small businesses" is so cliché in politics. Here's the difference: I actually mean it!

Working to revitalize East Lake Street, a vital commercial corridor with an unusually high number of vacancies, I frequently hear business owners say, "If I could do it all over again, I'd start up in St. Paul." That's unacceptable. Small businesses make Ward 12 a vibrant and great place to live, not to mention creating over 80% of new jobs in Minneapolis; we owe it to residents to create an environment that rewards entrepreneurship and encourages investment in the community.

Here's my plan:

  1. Undertake the first comprehensive review of business ordinances in over 50 years, eliminating red tape
  2. Create a starting point and roadmap for businesses to make interactions with the city more friendly and reduce delays
  3. Provide grants and low-interest loans to entrepreneurs, especially among struggling neighborhoods
  4. Follow our small area plans, which are a proactive process as opposed to the reactive use of variances
  5. Work closely in partnership with neighborhood associations to facilitate new businesses
  6. Utilize my Information Technology background to attract high-paying startups for this still emerging industry
  7. Pilot form-based zoning codes

 

Airport Noise

This is one of the more complicated issues in our ward. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is looking to implement Area Navigation (RNAV), which would consolidate airplane routes from being spread across our ward as they currently are to being tightly run along a path. While some residents of our ward would benefit from the RNAV implementation by having airplane traffic eliminated over their homes, others would suffer a massive impact to the quality of life by having flights running above their homes over a hundred times a day. This simply isn't right. RNAV makes sense for many airports, such as Denver International which is far-removed from the city, but not for ours, which is urban-adjacent.

What will I do?

  1. Work with existing coalitions, such as MSP FairSkies, and build others where possible to keep the pressure on the FAA and to educate and organize residents
  2. Push for transparency and community engagement regarding any significant change to flight paths
  3. Where possible, work to hold the FAA accountable to past agreements and develop future agreements that help protect the interests of our residents
  4. Work with partners at the State Legislature and Federal Legislature to more effectively utilize different modes of transit that reduce the need for flights into MSP Airport

 

Urban Farming

I worked to start a Minneapolis non-profit that would incentivize homeowners to grow vegetable gardens and create bicycle delivery jobs, only to find that it was illegal to sell produce grown in Minneapolis. This ridiculous restriction was lifted last year, but many more exist on our urban farmers which hold back our local sustainable food economy. This includes limiting on-site sales to 15-days (which I would like to see lifted entirely), unfriendly and short leasing terms, and even trouble accessing city water. I will work hard to eliminate these barriers to success and will help pioneer innovative new programs, such as piloting a co-op indoor community garden lit by LED lights. 

 

Cyclist-Friendly

As an avid cyclist, I strongly support protected bikeways throughout our city and believe this is essential to increasing the number of riders and commuters while also improving safety. I look to several other countries and cities that have championed bikeways as models for how Minneapolis should do it. Protected bikeways raise the status of cycling and offer an increased degree of equality in our society, which has largely put fossil fuel vehicles on a pedestal for nearly a century. Further, I support requiring all large buildings to provide onsite secured bike storage and showers for bike commuters. I will work closely with the Bicycle Advisory Committee and other cyclist advocacy groups, such as Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition, to explore additional ways to support bikers.

A common question I receive is: how will you pay for protected bike lanes? Bike lanes often have a negative cost. They offer positive externalities for society, such as improved health. They also offer infrastructure savings, by reducing the wear on roads. But most importantly, those who bike spend more on average at local businesses along their path than drivers do, who are more apt to pass through an area; bike commuters also have additional discretionary income due to expense reductions associated with driving an automobile.

 

Transit

Our biggest challenge over the next four years will be to ensure a responsible implementation of the Southwest and Bottineau light rail lines.

Modern streetcars vs. Bus Rapid Transit (BRT): Where one stands on this issue is often based on their perspective of public transit. There is one perspective that sees public transit as getting existing patrons to where they need to go. The other perspective views public transit as part a community's ecosystem, with the ability to influence private development, increase economic activity, affect the behavior of other transit modes, and attract new ridership. I view public transit as the latter, which is also to say that I prefer modern streetcars over BRT due to the benefits they provide beyond getting existing patrons where they need to go. That said, the most important question regarding modern streetcars is funding. I do not want to see our property taxes go up in order to reintroduce modern streetcars. This leaves us with options such as Tax Increment Financing districts, which I would be interested in exploring as a funding source in conjunction with federal urban-transit funding incentives.

I believe strongly in good urban design which promotes walkability and provides ample access to green space, so my zoning and development decisions will be focused on these important values. Additionally, I advocate for living wages on all development projects.

 

Crime

Crime is up in every category except for burglaries, arson, and prostitution. The 3rd Precinct response time for emergency calls is 8 minutes and 36 seconds on average, while it’s less than 5 minutes on average in other cities such as Portland, Oregon which has a force of similar size and budget.

  1. Hire gang intervention officers to intercept young lives headed down the wrong path and get them back on the right track
  2. Help shift the role of officers from “law enforcement” to “serve and protect,” which includes getting them out of their cars in favor of walking and biking the streets, and rediscovering their social role in the community
  3. With my background in Information Technology, I will form public-private partnerships to empower our officers with predictive analytics, so they can work smarter
  4. Explore real-time communication technologies to inform residents of actionable public safety concerns as they happen, leveraging "eyes on the street" to apprehend suspects
  5. Continue to improve officer training for cases of domestic violence and increase support for victims
  6. Increase efforts to educate the public on crime prevention
  7. Work with neighborhood associations to grow our block club program across Ward 12

Most importantly, crime is directly related to economic opportunities. We can’t merely address crime without working to provide jobs for youth and increase activity in neighborhoods. This is why I am a strong supporter of youth apprenticeships, cutting red tape for small businesses, eliminating the practice of outsourcing city functions to corporations, and lifting restrictions on urban agriculture.

 

Firefighters

The average firefighter is 47 years old, with none under 30. We spend over $200,000 a month on overtime due to injuries and retirements. But most shockingly, WE ARE NOT MEETING THE MINIMUM SAFE STAFFING STANDARDS! The hard truth is, understaffing has cost lives by impacting response time for emergency medical services. It has also directly resulted in firefighter injuries and put their lives at serious risk. This is absolutely unacceptable.

I will be a strong voice on the council and an advocate for hiring up to meet minimum standards. This also serves the purpose of heading off an attrition crisis, as over a third of our firefighters are set to retire in the next decade.

 

Restorative Justice

We have chronically underfunded our restorative justice programs, which cost four times less than the traditional criminal justice path, have lower recidivism rates, and practice forgiveness and restitution instead of punishment. I will increase funding and work with Minneapolis Public Schools to integrate this path as an alternative for students who make mistakes, such as stealing or starting fights.

 

Civil Rights

I will work to return civilian oversight to the police force. I will also seek to enhance the authority of the Civil Rights Department so that they can more effectively investigate discrimination and ensure that we are meeting employment and opportunity goals.

 

Open Government

I believe very strongly in an open and transparent government, and I will work very hard to increase the transparency in Minneapolis to make our city government more accessible for everyone. This includes making it easy to see how your council member voted on issues, rather than their voting record being buried deep across hundreds of PDF files, and providing a website that breaks down the city budget by how much you pay, making it easy to explore how your taxes are being spent. I think we can do even more, opening the budget up for two-way communication, allowing residents to share their top priorities and collaborate throughout the process. I will actively lead on this issue and many others to make our government more effective and responsive to the needs of the people.

 

Affordable Housing

One important thing we can do is to direct some of our Affordable Housing Trust Fund capital into Community Land Trusts (CLTs) which create permanent affordable housing. I am an advocate of CLT’s and believe that simply subsidizing rent without a pathway to affordable home ownership is a missed opportunity.

I support mandated mediation when homes are at risk of foreclosure.

Beyond this, we have an opportunity to enact legislation similar to the “Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act” (in Washington, D.C.) which would enable renters to have an opportunity to buy the home they occupy upon sale or foreclosure; I will work with city staff and fellow council members to draft a similar measure

 

Reduce Pressure on Property Taxes

  1. End the practice of corporate welfare giveaways!
  2. Increase the tax base by making it easier for small businesses to succeed, and thus generate more economic activity
  3. Reduce wasteful spending (i.e. the no-bid no-review Information Technology outsourcing contract, the city's largest)
  4. Explore shifting some city services to fee-based revenue sourcing, thus bypassing property tax exemptions
  5. Increase efficiencies, such as digitizing records and streamlining legislative administration
  6. Grow the tax base through transit-oriented development projects, focusing growth along transit corridors while maintaining the character of our neighborhoods

 

Racial Equity

Standing before the DFL African American Caucus, I couldn't help but feel like they have heard every promise imaginable from the hundreds of white candidates that came before me, only to be disappointed time and time again. The simple fact is, non-white residents are disproportionately underrepresented in Minneapolis.

Disparities among neighborhoods of color are shocking, and all of the issues are interrelated: infrastructure, economic prosperity, education, crime, health, transit, and civic engagement. If we strategically address the chronic disparities of disadvantaged neighborhoods, we can disrupt the cyclical nature of inequality. I view this as not only a moral imperative but an absolute necessity for a strong Minneapolis in which we are a safe, friendly, efficient, and prosperous city.

What will I do?

  1. Continue to engage residents of color in the political process, a practice I started with my campaign
  2. Hire staff and interns of color, especially females
  3. Prioritize candidates of color for city management positions (approximately 3 of 90 positions are filled by people of color)
  4. Focus investments on neighborhoods that need it the most, which are often minority strongholds
  5. Advocate for drug law reforms, which by and large are used to discriminate against black males
  6. Improve the atmosphere for small businesses in order to encourage resident ownership of businesses and investment in neighborhoods
  7. Call on our police to provide "safe" service for undocumented residents, allowing them to seek help for cases of domestic violence, medical emergencies, traffic accidents, and other situations without the fear of prosecution for their immigration status

 

Animal Care & Control

Currently, Minneapolis Animal Care & Control reports that 91 percent of “adoptable” animals move on to homes, but that number omits a large number of animals which are considered “unadoptable” for various reasons. Many of those reasons include correctable behavioral issues that other organizations, such as the Animal Humane Society, have training programs to resolve. In actuality, the euthanasia rate is at least 41 percent of all animals under the care of MACC. MACC has made several big strides recently and has more promising initiatives in the pipeline. I will work with MACC, their advisory board, and animal advocates to improve the outcome for animals. I look to other cities as well for inspiration regarding animal care and control.

Municipal Energy

The Minneapolis Energy Options campaign has always been about exploring our options in order to get more affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy service for residents and businesses. After extensive research, I endorsed the campaign. Already the campaign has resulted in CenterPoint Energy coming to the table with a better deal for residents, and I believe our openness to consider all options will also result in a better deal with Xcel Energy.

Unfortunately there has been misinformation suggesting that the city council was about to "take over" our energy grid, drive Xcel out of town, take on a debt we cannot afford, and leave our city in a perilous situation. This couldn't be further from the truth, and I am disappointed to see others trying to capitalize politically off of genuine concerns resulting from disingenuous messaging. Municipal energy is, on average, more reliable, more affordable, and better run than for-profit electrical utilities. Furthermore, it is unwise for would-be council members to declare options off the table when we're about to walk into negotiations with Xcel Energy that are crucial to saving residents money and investing in our city's infrastructure.

I'll work to get our residents and businesses a better deal, and part of that is by being open-minded and doing my homework. Most importantly, I would not support moving forward on such an important decision as municipalization without the support of constituents.