November 3, 2017
*speech has been transcribed from draft, delivery notes, and limited delivery recordings
Thank you to everyone that began this journey with us eleven months ago and to everyone who has joined us along the way. We’ve knocked on thousands of doors, we’ve made thousands of calls, we’ve reached thousands of voters, and we’ve had a lot of fun doing it. I’m proud to tell you that all that hard work is paying off: we’ve got the momentum.
We’ve talked to voters in every corner of this city and they’ve told us that they believe Minneapolis needs a fresh start. They’ve told us that they believe that our vision for the city will change our course for the better. They recognize that we’ve got some serious challenges that we have to address through strong leadership, real partnerships, clear strategies, and direct action.
Right now, we have an affordable housing crisis in our city that is growing worse every day. We have a long history of deliberately segregating people with land uses in a manner that places all the affordable housing in certain sections of the city that are cut-off by highways and closest to heavy industrial pollution. But I believe, and I know you do, too, that we can change that. We can change course to ensure that every single person in our city has the ability to afford safe and quality housing in the neighborhood of their choosing. And we’re not just going to talk about it. We’re going to act. We’re going to invest in affordable housing, not just for people who make thirty or forty thousand dollars a year, but for people experiencing poverty and homelessness. We’re going to invest in making sure that people experiencing homelessness in our city--about half of whom have at least one job, by the way--are able to afford a home and have that next rung on the ladder toward a brilliant and prosperous life in Minneapolis.
Right now, we have some of the worst community-police relations that our city has every experienced, as well as a significant uptick in violent crime and, especially, shootings. We need to make sure that the next mayor of Minneapolis recognizes that it is a false choice to say we can either have public safety or police accountability. We can have both and, in fact, each is dependent on the other. You can’t have public safety if people don’t trust the police, and right now, many people don’t. But we can change that, not just through words but through actions. I believe that police should have to exhaust all reasonable options before resorting to deadly force. This sounds like common sense policy, and it was recommended by the U.S. Justice Department but rejected by the current mayor. I believe that there should be a rebuttable presumption of misconduct against any police officers who fails to turn on their body camera when required. Simply put, a body camera policy doesn’t do anything if the officers don’t turn on the cameras. Seems like common sense, but when a recent internal audit report showed that one-third of Minneapolis police officers are not turning on their body cameras when they should be, the current mayor opted to hold a press conference to bury those findings rather than take responsibility and work to fix the issue.
Right now, we claim to be pursuing community policing, but in reality our officers are running from 911 call to 911 call, never having the time to build relationships with the communities they serve. Ninety-two percent of our officers don’t even live in Minneapolis. But we can change that. I believe that community policing should be more than a catchphrase. We need to increase the number of officers on the MPD force so that we can assign officers narrower beats and consistent shifts. I want you to know on any given day at any given time who your officer is and how to get a hold of them. I want every resident and business in the city to have the ability to build a relationship with the officers that serve their community. And this isn’t just talk--last month, I authored a staff direction to identify policies that we can implement to incentivize officers to live in Minneapolis.I want practical solutions to addressing the violent crime in our city. There are things we can do to fix this: staggering bar-close, improving lighting, eliminating empty lots. We can do it. I have a plan; it’s on my website. I’ve released the most detailed public safety and police reform plan offered by any candidate in this race and, for added measure, I’ve also released a 17-point “Eight-and-a-Half Block Safety Plan” specific to downtown.
Right now, we have enormous untapped opportunities and potential. But we can change that. We can move away from the 1950s American Dream of the white picket fence in the suburbs and the 45-minute commute to work. We can build a dense and vibrant city with a world-class transportation system and a thousand sights and shops all packed in on the same block. I believe economic opportunity should not go to the select few but to everybody in the city. I want small business owners to be able to run with a great idea, and I want the city to help, not get in the way.
And, you can trust that when I say I’m going to do this work as mayor that it’s not just talk and that we’re going to deliver results, because we’ve already been doing it. When I ran for City Council for the Third Ward, I promised very specific things:
I promised to grow the city and, guess what, we did it at record levels in the Third Ward.
I promised affordable housing in middle and upper income areas and, guess what, we did it. We’ve got housing for seniors at 50 and 60 percent of median income going up in the Mill District. We’ve got housing for people with a felony record going up in the North Loop. Was it difficult? Yes. Was it controversial? Yes. But we said “Yes in Our Backyard!” and built out the coalition to get it done.
I promised a new community-based public school. We worked with the school board and invested parents and we delivered. I promised record numbers of small and local businesses opening and, guess what, we delivered that, too.
I promised to stop pollution from going to communities that bear the brunt of social, economic, and environmental injustice because everybody deserves to breath clean air. We didn’t just talk about it. We did something by writing an ordinance tacking fees to pollution and, in one year alone, we reduced the carbon output by 6 million pounds and criteria pollutants by 18,000 pounds.
I promised to expand election reform and, guess what, every single year we’ve seen record numbers of early voters come out. We worked to open up satellite precincts. We made sure to ease the voter registration burden so that students and new Americans can vote more easily.
So, as I said to you earlier, the momentum is on our side in a big way. Last week we got the endorsement of the Star Tribune, which touted my clear vision and ability to build coalitions to get results. And, even though the Star Tribune endorsed her four years ago, the Mayor and her political operatives are now claiming that the very same editorial board members are now corporate shills. But then, a few days later, we got the endorsement of the Minnesota Daily! And for those who would say that the students are also corporate sell-outs, I beg to differ. They are smart, they are engaged, and they know which direction our city needs to go. Council Member Linea Palmisano just endorsed us today. She joins my Council colleagues Alondra Cano and Abdi Warsame. One of our challengers, Aswar Rahman, endorsed us a couple of days ago.
But here’s how you really know that the momentum is on our side: our opponents are coming after us hard. Most of the folks who got in this race did so because they believe we need a new mayor. Even though we all have different ideas and backgrounds, my opponents are all people whom I respect. Unfortunately, we’ve had a few dust-ups along the way. Just today, one of my opponents released a mailer that went pretty negative on us, suggesting that there is no difference between me and the incumbent mayor. Well, I’m going to take that mailer as an opportunity to talk about some of the differences between me and Mayor Hodges.
For one, it’s certainly clear that we have some differences with the Mayor on policy. For example, we believe in making the necessary investment in affordable housing. My very first year on the City Council, I had to amend the Mayor’s budget, which was dreadfully low, to ensure that the Affordable Housing Trust Fund was fully funded. Sadly, we’re still a long way off from dedicating enough funding to the problem. Also, I believe that we need to follow through on important police accountability reforms that have been neglected for quite some time and put public trust and safety ahead of public relations. When Mayor Hodges tried to put a gag order on former Chief Harteau to prevent a political fallout, I introduced a resolution which my colleagues unanimously passed to bar gag orders because, in our city, we need to be transparent and accountable even when--or especially when--it means facing criticism.
But the biggest difference between Mayor Hodges and me is how we engage with the folks around us to advance progress in our city.
In the chattering political class around the mayor, there’s a lot of interest in a thing called “narrative.” Narrative is the tool they use to create the reality around themselves that they wish we’d all believe. It’s also the same thing that allows them to flip flop their arguments from year to year with each candidate they support. What was okay for a candidate they liked in the past or might in the future, they’d have you believe is the devil in me. Well let me tell you, narrative is not the same as truth.
The narrative is that I flip-flopped on the minimum wage. The truth is that two-and-half years ago, before it was politically expedient or an election year, I came out in favor of a citywide minimum wage, which the Mayor explicitly opposed, and I also came out in favor of an approach that would account differently for small and large businesses. It was only on the eve of her reelection that the Mayor flipped her position, came out in favor of $15 minimum wage, shut down discussions about a potential tip-credit, and vanished for the remainder of the negotiations. That’s not leadership or public service. We can and should do better.
The narrative is that I’m beholden to developers and big-money interests in town. The truth is that Mayor Hodges has taken campaign contributions from the Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce, the Minneapolis Downtown Council, and from developers at the very same time as she criticizes me. The truth is also that our campaign has the broadest base of support of any candidate in this race. We’ve got support from activists, advocates, small-businesses, and folks from every single neighborhood, in every single ward. I’m proud of that broad-based support.
The narrative is that I’m all things to all people. The truth is that “all things to all people” is political pejorative for working with others to build a strong coalition, listening to other people’s ideas, and engaging in nuanced policy-making to have a lasting positive impact for all residents of our city. Mayor Hodges, by contrast, told the Star Tribune that working with others is not a priority for her, and it shows in her relationships.
Someone mentioned to me last night that some guy wrote an op-ed floating about the word “progressive,” and according to him, I’m not one. The author told the readers to take a look at who’s endorsed my campaign. Maybe we should.
Are there any union members here tonight? We’ve got more endorsements from unions than anyone else in this race. Any folks from the LGBTQ community? We’re endorsed by Stonewall DFL. Are there any environmentalists here? We’ve got the support of the DFL environmental caucus. How about folks that are interested in seeing a City Hall that’s run well and for a purpose? I see and hear you, and when someone says “look closely at his endorsements” I say: I agree, check ‘em out.
And as for the word “progressive,” let me tell you something:
You can keep the word progressive if it means an unwillingness to collaborate or to listen to divergent points of view.
You can keep the word progressive if it means elevating “narrative” and political gamesmanship above the honest conversations necessary to make change.
You can keep the word progressive if it means villainizing those who share the same goals and vision for our city, but have some disagreements about the best way to get there.
Because I’m not interested in being called a “progressive” if it doesn’t mean progress.
I’m interested in progress for the folks on the Northside and in Phillips--and Southwest, Northeast, and in every part of our city. I’m interested in progress for the children who deserve a safe and successful life here. I’m interested in progress for our New American neighbors starting businesses while learning a new set of laws and customs and for our indigenous community who has faced generations of being marginalized on their own land. I’m interested in progress for everyone who calls this city their home now and in our future.
And we can absolutely…. [little girl walks up and hands him an envelope]... thank you so much!...What we can do, this reminds me, is plan for the future. I don’t know that little girl’s name, but in ten years I want her and all the other children in this city to have the potential and the resources to go in any direction they want in life.
So, I just want to say thank you. We’ve got all the momentum in this election, and it’s because of your hard work and support. We are going to build an amazing coalition. Let’s hear it for a fresh start for Minneapolis!