Green Growth and Urban Agriculture

With Donald Trump pulling our federal government out of the Paris Climate Agreement and a Republican state legislature, cities like Minneapolis are going to have step up and fill the leadership vacuum on climate change.

We have taken some steps in the right direction. One of the accomplishments that I am most proud of is a city ordinance I authored that instituted sweeping environmental reforms that now serve as a national model for pollution control and tackling climate change. Passed a little over a year ago, the law requires polluters to pay fees based on the amount of pollution they produce, directly disincentivizing pollution. In just one year, this law has reduced criteria pollutants by 18,000 pounds and carbon output by 6 million pounds. We fought for and won this progressive victory because air pollution is a climate issue, but also a racial justice issue - the communities most hurt by climate change and toxic pollutants like VOCs are also communities of color. And by rewarding businesses that voluntarily move to cut their emissions, we also showed that the choice between environmental justice and thriving small businesses is a false one.

But Minneapolis needs a mayor that won't settle for making Minneapolis anything less than the greenest city in America. By 2035, Minneapolis should be using 100% clean energy. As Mayor, I would:

  • Put Minneapolis's municipal buildings on track to achieve 100% clean energy use. I want to be a Mayor that leads on climate change, and that starts by making sure our city government does its part.
  • Support community solar projects, especially low-income projects. This achieves the twin goals of allowing solar to spread to areas where it is now underutilized while also opening up clean energy options to Minneapolitans who might otherwise not be able to afford it.
  • Increase density in Minneapolis. Increasing density is one of the most politically controversial issues in city politics, but it is absolutely necessary to stop the suburban sprawl that fuels climate change. We just need a mayor willing to shoulder the political burden of pushing for density despite status quo opposition. Upzoning and offering political support for projects that increase density despite backlash will be cornerstones of my pro-density agenda as Mayor.
  • Incentivize energy-efficient building design in new developments that go up in Minneapolis. Supporting clean energy is a must, but we also need to lay a foundation for a Minneapolis where we also consume less energy overall.
  • Expand the repurposing of vacant lots for urban agriculture. More locally sourced food will be key to combatting climate change, and the city should do more to offer opportunities to communities that want to pursue urban agriculture. Community based garden plots can help combat food deserts in areas of the city that most need it.

Multi-modal Transportation

The way Minneapolitans get around is changing. As the city grows, our people become less car-centric. This transition is being facilitated by car-sharing programs, walkable development, and - in the not-to-distant future - driverless cars. As mayor, I pledge to work with the council to support a transportation plan that recognizes these changes.

  • Prioritize pedestrian access and safety in designing our streets. Despite some progress, the city still often makes planning decisions with an automobile-centric mentality. With federal money for pedestrian improvements likely to dry up under a Trump administration, I will make sure the city steps up on pedestrian improvements like stop signs and curb extensions at dangerous intersections.
  • Extend support for trail and bikeway access in Minneapolis. Minneapolis can work with other municipalities to extend marquee trails like the Greenway to St. Paul. Additionally, protected bike lanes should widen to add planter protection rather than simply using plastic bollards. We can improve bikeway safety while greening our city at the same time. Supporting multi-modal transportation is key to making Minneapolis a city that works for everyone. 
  • Expand bus rapid transit and light rail. By working with partners at the State, Met Council, and Hennepin County to build a political coalition for a more robust public transit system, including light rail and bus rapid transit. With Republicans controlling the state legislature, it is more important than ever that we have a proactive mayor who will champion Minneapolitans' right to affordable public transit.

Arts & Education

Minneapolis can do more to capitalize on the creativity and intelligence for which this city has long been known. As mayor, I'll implement city policy to showcase our strengths and expand on our reputation.

  • Use housing policy to protect artists from gentrification. I would push for industrial zoning designations and supplementing them with an overlay of live/work artist housing. When industrial zoning designations are swapped out with residential ones, gentrification displaces the artists that made Minneapolis such an attractive city to live in the first place.
  • Liberalize restrictions that stymie art in public places. Restrictions that prevent artists from selling their work in public spaces or make the process cumbersome and inaccessible don't just make it hard for artists to sustain their livelihoods, but also deny Minneapolitans the chance to enjoy their creations. As Mayor, I will support reforming licensing ordinances that impede artistic creativity and cultural expression.
  • Expand on the city's existing public arts programs like artistic utility boxes and paint the pavement. Lists of spaces available for these kinds of public art should be compiled and publicized for artists' benefit. Expanding and making this program more accessible allows artists to apply their skill and beautifies our neighborhoods.
  • Resume regular meetings with the School Board. It used to be that the Mayor would meet with the School Board on a near monthly basis. I would resume these meetings because our city governments cannot be operating in silos, especially when our children are involved. Because we have an independent school board, the Mayor has to collaborate to have a positive impact on our public schools, and as your Mayor I promise to do just that. I worked hard as the co-chair of the Yes for Minneapolis Kids campaign, our successful project to get the referendum funding Minneapolis public schools passed this past November. And, while schools have closed throughout the city over the last 15 years, in the 3rd Ward, working with invested parents and School Board Directors, we managed to open one. Webster Elementary is now up and running and winning awards! I cannot think of a single issue that impacts our city's success or failure more than our children's education, and so we need a Mayor that won't settle until every child has access to a superb education.

Lifting Wages and Supporting Small Business

Our city's workers and small business owners deserve a mayor who will advocate for them and innovative policies to advance the wages and benefits and to create an environment where citizens can pick up a good idea and run with it, unhindered by city red tape and bureaucracy.

  • Implement, enforce, and defend Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Leave. I am proud to have authored Minneapolis's paid sick leave ordinance. I am also proud to have been one of the first members of the City Council to come out in support a minimum wage increase more than two years ago, before it was politically expedient to do so and when a majority of the city council and the mayor were still opposed to it. Minneapolis has passed a historic minimum wage increase for its workers, and I worked hard to make sure that large and corporate businesses had a faster implementation period than their small business counterparts. Unfortunately, these progressive policies are already being attacked by powerful special interests. As Mayor, I will defend these policies from legal challenges and pre-emption at the state level and strictly enforce penalties for non-compliance.
  • Expand support for the Small Business Navigators program. Established by Council Member Andrew Johnson, this program uses navigators to help small businesses work through the often-complex processes needed to open and run a successful business in Minneapolis. This program is especially helpful for members of our immigrant community, as they navigate cultural and language barriers.
  • Encourage small-space retail and commercial units. During transitions in commercial tenancy or property ownership, commercial spaces should be split into smaller spaces. Smaller spaces prevent corporate franchises from setting up their boilerplate while also allowing for cheaper rents that give upstart entrepreneurs an opportunity to open. This provision will help create diverse and vibrant streetscapes.


City Services and Constituent Care

  • Guarantee all constituents a response from the Mayor's office within 24 hours. If you live, work, or play in Minneapolis, you are important to us, and you deserve timely correspondence and a clear answer. Here's my pledge: when I am mayor, if you call/email our office with a question, you will get a response within 24 hours. This is a high bar, but I want you to hold us to it!
  • Make a point of personally speaking to constituents that call the Mayor's office. As a Council Member, I answer the phone myself when I'm in the office, and that will not change as mayor. I want to hear from constituents, and I will not hide from difficult issues. Rather, I'll step up my game and communicate even more. If you call in with a question when I'm in office, don't be surprised if you get a call back from the Mayor directly.
  • Commit my administration to high quality and efficient city services. The most important thing a city can do to make life easier for its residents is to guarantee them high quality and efficient city services. Every day, Minneapolis residents depend on their city government to ensure our sidewalks are walkable regardless of weather conditions, streets are plowed after snow storms, potholes are filled, and garbage is collected in a timely manner. While this is a management issue, it is also an equity issue for me: potholes and roads are fixed significantly slower in North Minneapolis than other wealthier neighborhoods of Minneapolis. As your mayor, I will make sure that Minneapolis does not allow the basic city services that we depend on to fall by the wayside.

Voting Rights and Access

Do you remember early voting in the 2016 cycle? The satellite precincts, the increased early voting, and the ease in voter registration did not happen by accident. As Chair of Minneapolis Elections and Rule Committee, I led to make sure that voting - a fundamental right for our democracy - was not only protected, but enhanced. While many states enacted draconian voter restriction laws and gutted early voting in order to disenfranchise people of color, younger, and lower-income voters for political purposes, I fought to ensure that Minneapolis expanded voter access by adding four new early voting precincts. Because of this early voting expansion, the percentage of people that voted early quadrupled from 7% in 2012 to a record breaking 28% this past election. Overall, more people in Minneapolis voted in 2016 than in any election in history.

I also authored and passed an ordinance requiring landlords to provide their new tenants with voter registration forms and information after they move in. In a city where more than half our residents are renters, who skew younger and less white than the population as a whole, it is imperative that we all do our part to ensure no one is deprived of their right to vote simply because they moved. If elected, I'll focus on expanding access to the ballot by:

  • Increase voter turnout by bringing early voting access to non-presidential elections. While the satellite precincts for early voting that I pushed for in the 2016 presidential election were a huge success, I want to do more to support early voting as Mayor. One of the most important responsibilities the Mayor has is to write the city's budget. I want to use the budgets that will be written by my administration to provide for early voting options in midterm elections and even municipal elections, particularly in communities of color that have been denied the ballot by an inaccessible voting process time and again.
  • Double down on protecting and expanding ballot access for renters. Minneapolis's pioneering law requiring landlords to provide tenants with voter registration forms and information is one of the laws I am most proud of having passed, a success that is spreading across the country as cities like Seattle follow our lead. As Mayor, I want to double down on this success with vigilant enforcement and penalties for landlords that refuse to comply. I will conduct a review of whether or not the city's approach to ensuring that landlords are complying with this ordinance is effective and, if it is lacking, lead the fight to make sure renters' rights are realized.
  • Fight for automatic voter registration at the state level. Our country is nearly alone in requiring a two-step process for voting - opt-in registration followed by voting. While states across the country have begun moving toward an automatic voter registration model, Minnesota's state legislators haven't answered the call. Minneapolitans need a visible and present mayor who will use the office to champion justice not just in city hall, but at the state legislature.
  • Making voting more accessible for the Somali community. I am proud of the aforementioned work that I did to expand early voting in Minneapolis. But we have to do more than commend ourselves on the progress that we've made. This past election, too many voters in our Somali community faced unduly long lines because not enough translators were available at polling places in communities like Cedar-Riverside. And when thousands of Somalis turned out to caucus, organizing for an inclusive politics in the face of Trump presidency that has targeted so many members of their community, our party was not prepared enough to accommodate many of them. As mayor, I would fight to make sure that we invest the resources needed to ensure that people of all backgrounds are empowered on Election Days, and all days in between.

Transparency and Working with Council

I believe that leadership starts with communication, and if we want to bring together residents from diverse neighborhoods across the city, we need a mayor who is out front, visible, and bringing people together to discuss the big ideas necessary to move Minneapolis forward. As a mayor, I'd focus on these areas:

  • Host town halls in every ward in Minneapolis. Council Members included! Part of being a visible and accessible Mayor means showing up in all parts of the city and getting to know all communities in the city. As Mayor, I will hold at least one town hall for every Ward in the City every year and invite the council members for the respective wards to join me.
  • Hold open-ended monthly press conferences. I will personally hold open-ended press sessions at least once every month and answer questions. Each open-ended press session will be no less than 30 minutes, assuming there are questions to answer. Crafted statements dodge the meat of an issue, mask lack of understanding about a particular policy, and rob the public of necessary facts. We won't hide from press. They are doing their job by asking questions, and I will do mine by answering them.
  • Fulfill data practice requests in a timely manner. Being committed to transparency in city government means promoting transparency with actions, not just public statements of support for the idea of open government. My office will prioritize fulfilling and complying with all requests by press and other individuals for emails and information sent by my staff using city resources. The Mayor has to be accountable for how they use city resources and how decisions and policies are formulated, and I will hold myself to that standard even divulging such information might be bad politics for my administration. This is part of my pledge to make the Mayor's office a place where people always come before the politics.
  • Build a coalition for progress on the City Council. I think that my ability to work with Council Members of all ideological stripes is what has enabled me to be a productive Council Member that has won progressive victories on affordable housing, climate change, decriminalizing marijuana, and voting access. What Minneapolis needs now is a Mayor that can do the same, a leader who will put themselves on the line on behalf of an agenda that lifts all communities in Minneapolis, not just a few.


Affordable Housing and Ending Homelessness

Stable and affordable housing is necessary for the success of Minneapolis residents. There's an affordable crisis in Minneapolis, and it requires direct action. There are too many people sleeping on the streets, under bridges, or in the parks across our city. Minneapolis can look to solutions employed by other municipalities across the city, and adapt them for use here. It's not a question of know-how; it's a question of will.

  • Build more deeply affordable housing. While it is great that Minneapolis has been building affordable housing for people at 50-60% area median income, the city needs to start building more affordable housing that is extremely affordable, closer to 30% of area median income or even lower. 
  • Dramatically increase funding for affordable housing. I'm proud of the work I did to make sure the Affordable Housing Trust Fund is fully funded, but its funding should be increased even further. Preferably working with other surrounding municipalities, Minneapolis should set aside a percentage of the property tax revenue the received from any increases in the property values for homes valued at $300,000 or more for a special fund exclusively for affordable housing.
  • Fight for Pro-Density Zoning Policies and Growth. Exclusionary zoning and density policies and the housing shortage they created have contributed to our current affordable housing crisis and the racial and socioeconomic segregation plaguing Minneapolis. To make Minneapolis a city where all neighborhoods are open to all of its residents, we need to allow more height, higher-quality builds, and more units so that we aren't depressing the natural housing supply and driving up the cost of housing for residents that can't afford it. 
  • End chronic homelessness within 5 years. Everyone deserves a place to call home where they can close the door to a hectic world and rejuvenate for the next day. While investments have been made to mitigate the problem, we have not taken bold action to give people experiencing homelessness the tools to rise. 80% of our homeless population has at least one job, and 40% have two jobs, but they still can't afford a home because the cost gap between a homeless shelter and low-income housing is too vast - even with a job. Ending homelessness is not only the compassionate thing to do, it is also the smart thing to do. The cost to the city of a person living on the street is around $40,000 a year-nearly 3 times the cost of giving them housing. Through inclusive Housing First policies, Utah was able to cut chronic homelessness almost to zero. Minneapolis should aspire to do the same for our most vulnerable residents.

Bail Reform, Second Chances, and Community Safety and Accountability

As a Civil Rights attorney, I've seen first-hand the mistreatment of some citizens by our justice system. Minneapolis has an opportunity to put our values forward and lead by adopting policies that will make a real and substantial difference in the lives of citizens living in some of the toughest circumstances in our city.

  • Stand Against a Draconian Bail System. Minneapolis should offer funding and technical support to organizations like the Minnesota Freedom Fund, which pays bail bonds for those who can't afford to pay bail themselves. Minneapolis should be a part of making sure that these kinds of organizations can help everyone, not just the lucky few. Additionally, I would like to see Minneapolis explore a program connecting Minneapolitans subject to bail to free or affordable legal counsel. 
  • Make "Community Policing" MPD Policy, Not Just a Campaign Catchphrase. I will make community policing more than a catchphrase by narrowing the beat of individual officers so they get to know the neighborhood they are representing and develop relationships with residents, businesses, and people on the street. This means assigning beat officers to specific blocks and neighborhoods, and making sure that they serve those blocks on the same times and days so the community gets to know them. 
  • Reform MPD's De-Escalation and Implicit Bias Trainings. In the wake of Philando Castille's death, we need our own police department to reform its de-escalation & implicit bias trainings. Currently, officers only go through a one-off seminar at the start of their careers. These trainings should instead take place continuously throughout their time on the force.
  • Make MPD a Trans-Friendly Police Department. Trans Minneapolitans are arrested at a rate disproportionate to their share of the population a disparity further compounded for trans people of color. They are also frequently profiled as sex workers. As mayor, I will improve and expand the trainings that teach our police how to recognize their own implicit biases towards LGBTQ individuals.

Standing with our Immigrant Neighbors

I'm proud to support our new American communities here in Minneapolis. Ours is a nation built on the dreams and hard work of immigrants from across the world. That proud tradition shouldn't stop because Donald Trump is in office. Here in Minneapolis, we can do more than just resist this administration, we can be a beacon of inclusivity for the rest of the nation.

  • Defend New Americans from Trump's ICE. The mayor has direct control over the police department. Because of our separation ordinance, I am hopeful that we will be able to thwart Trump in his mission to destroy our New American communities without losing federal funds, but, even if we do lose federal money, I will not give an inch. I am willing to compromise on many things as mayor, but human rights, dignity, and safety will be non-negotiable for my administration.
  • Support Pipelines to Jobs for Our Immigrant Communities. Council Member Abdi Warsame led a heroic effort to open the Cedar-Riverside Opportunity Center to address long term unemployment in our East African community this spring. It has been a historic success that I was proud to support alongside Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin. As mayor, I would use city resources to support pipelines to jobs like those provided by this opportunity center because our immigrant communities all too often face discrimination when they try to find employment.
  • Promote Culturally Conscious City Services. We will never be able to make "All Are Welcome Here" a reality in our city if Minneapolis can't even ensure that its own city services are inclusive of all its residents. As mayor, I will fight for city services that are cognizant of language barriers, others' religious beliefs, and other cultural differences that we should be accounting for.