Jacob's Big Vision for Minneapolis
Jump to ➡︎ Affordable Housing, Art, City Services, Constituent Service, Education, Elections and Voter Engagement, Ending Homelessness, Greenest City in America, Public Safety, Raising the Minimum Wage to $15, Residential Growth, Restorative Justice, Small Business Growth, Transparency and Communication, Urban Agriculture, Working with the City Council
Everyone has the right to live in our great city, but increasing prices and the loss of over 10,000 units of affordable housing over the last 15 years is leading to displacement of many of the very people that made our communities great to begin with.
This is not just a problem - over the next 5 years it will become a crisis if we do not act to create and retain affordable housing. We need a bold vision to work collaboratively with our public, private, and nonprofit partners to create a consistent stream of funding for new affordable housing and retention of naturally occurring affordable housing. One such policy is to set aside a percentage of the property tax revenue the city receives from any increase in the property values of homes valued at $300,000 or more for a special fund exclusively for affordable housing.
During my time representing the 3rd Ward, we have stood up for affordable housing, bringing the Affordable Housing Trust Fund to record levels, and pushing for affordable housing in and around the 3rd Ward. To tackle this crisis, however, we need this leadership constantly on a city-wide basis.
I have had the privilege of representing the Northeast Arts District — ranked as the number one arts district in the entire country — during my time on the City Council. Our creative class brings invaluable cultural vibrancy that makes Minneapolis such a great city to live. We have to return the favor by making sure we are doing our part to ensure that city government works for them.
Sometimes, the best thing a city can do for artists is to get out of the way. Restrictions that prevent artists from selling their work in public spaces or that make the process cumbersome and inaccessible don’t just make it hard for artists to sustain their livelihoods; they also deny everyday Minneapolitans the chance to enjoy their creations. I would support liberalizing licensing ordinances that impede artistic creativity and cultural expression.
We also need to do more to make sure that artists in the creative class can find affordable housing. One way to do this is by retaining industrial zoning designations and supplementing them it with an overlay of live/work artist housing. When industrial designations are scrapped in favor of residential designations, gentrification displaces the very artists that made Minneapolis such an attractive city to live in the first place.
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, 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.
We recognize the importance of constituent service. If you live, work, or play in Minneapolis, you are important to us, and you deserve timely correspondence and a clear answer. 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.
Here's our 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!
I can't think of anything that impacts the success or failure of our city more than the education of our children. And nothing impacts the education of our children more than the quality of our Minneapolis Public Schools. While the last 20 years has seen public schools close around the city, in the 3rd Ward we opened one. Working in collaboration with invested parents and the Minneapolis School Board, we reopened Webster Elementary School, which is now experiencing award-winning success.
A consistent partnership between our public schools and our city is not only desired - it's essential. So I signed on early to chair the Vote Yes campaign to ensure renewal of 13% of our public school's annual funding, and that advocacy will continue in the mayor's office. It used to be that the mayor would meet with the school board on a near monthly basis, and we must to bring this collaboration back. Our branches of local government cannot operate in silos any longer. Being an effective mayor requires building a coalition, and that requires working with our independent school and park board.
Additionally, we must provide children with the vocational skill necessary to land a job upon graduation, even without a college education. In addition to traditional trade skills like painting and welding, our children can learn coding beginning at a very young age. And with time, our city will have earned a valuable worker and a young adult will have access to a well-paying job.
Elections and Voter Engagement
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.
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. 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.
I pledge to end homelessness in Minneapolis 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. Not only is ending homelessness 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. Give people the tools to empower themselves, and they will rise!
Greenest City in America
This past spring, we enacted sweeping environmental reforms that serve as a national model for pollution control and tackling climate change. Minneapolis now requires polluters to pay fees based on the amount of pollution they produce. We fought for and won this progressive victory because we know that air pollution is a climate issue, but also an equity issue—the people most hurt by climate change and toxic pollutants like VOCs are also people of color. And by rewarding businesses that voluntarily move to cut their emissions, we showed that the choice between environmental justice and thriving small businesses is a false one.
But as proud as I am of these green victories, we cannot be content to rest on our laurels. Minneapolis needs to further support and foster clean energy projects like community solar gardens. We need to incentivize developers to build energy efficient projects that harness renewable energy. And we need to continue the fight to shutdown Northern Metals once and for all, because a great city cannot rise when some of its citizens are denied their right to clean air. With a Donald Trump presidency, it is more important than ever that Minneapolis takes the lead on environmental issues, not resting until it is the greenest city in America.
Every person in every neighborhood of our city has the right be safe, free from shootings and violence, and comfortable to rise without fear of harm to themselves and their families. I believe strongly in a community policing model facilitated by improved relations between police and the people they are tasked to protect and serve. While relations have been at an all time low these last several years, they can begin to be mended through communication, shared respect, and understanding. This communication can only take place if police officers are not simply running from 911 call to 911 call, but have the time to listen, talk, even share a laugh with community members. By narrowing the beat of each individual officer, especially in areas experiencing upticks in violent crime and strained community/police relations we can foster improved relations, and allow officers to more fully do their jobs they were meant do.
Raising the Minimum Wage to $15
The City of Minneapolis has to raise the minimum wage to $15 for our workers because Donald Trump and the Republican state legislature never will. We can raise the minimum wage in a way that gives our workers the boost they need to uplift themselves and that works for our small and local businesses and entrepreneurs.
We simply need a leader who will take the reins and get it done.
Some have talked about increasing the residential population. In the 3rd Ward, we have done it! Nearly half of our city’s recent investment and development has taken place in the 3rd Ward. After 3 years of hard work, surface parking lots are now on the endangered list and are being replaced with community-minded development and green space. (Check out the Commons park!) The influx of residential population has created countless new jobs and small businesses. And, our tax base has expanded, allowing for key allocations for the long-term success of our parks and streets. We cannot shy away from community-minded progress. To be a world class city, we must embrace it!
A holistic approach to public safety must include full support and funding for restorative justice programs. This is especially important for youth crime. Restorative justice programs respond to youth crime through a lens of public health and public safety rather than one of punishment and isolation. Individuals are held accountable for their offenses but also develop relational and social competencies. At the same time, restorative justice balances the needs of the victim and promotes healing. The offender and the victim are able to be a part of and supported by the community. And as a community they develop solutions, decide reparations, and enhance public safety. Restorative justice transforms communities with proven results of decreased recidivism, decreased criminal justice costs, reduced victim post-trauma stress, and reduced retaliatory violence.
Small Business Growth
In the 3rd Ward, we have delivered a model for small business success - seeing record numbers of new openings in the last several years. Come check out what’s going on in North Loop, East Town, East Hennepin area, and the Arts District. Vacant properties are now occupied, the sidewalks are alive with action, and old historic buildings are refurbished and repurposed for innovative, modern use. This progress does not happen by accident. It takes a leader who is present and works shoulder to shoulder with entrepreneurs towards success, but also someone who gets out of the way and lets a great idea flourish.
We’ve pushed for decreased square footage of retail/restaurant space, preventing massive corporate franchises from setting up their boilerplates, and allowing small and local upstarts to pay rent. In doing so, we have increased vibrancy and activation of the street. Small and local businesses are a key part to success in our city, and we should be cheering for them!
Transparency and Communication
We won't dodge issues - we will address them head on. In addition to a multi-faceted outreach strategy, 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.
A primary power of the mayor is using the position as a bully pulpit. As mayor, I will ensure the position is used to its fullest extent for the benefit of our entire city.
We need to expand urban agriculture in Minneapolis to end food deserts and grow affordable, nutritious food right here in our city. As a Council Member, I authored initiatives to promote urban agriculture for community gardens and market farms as well as fighting for longer lease terms, a major barrier for urban farmers. Urban agriculture not only reduces poverty and food insecurity, it also enhances urban environmental management. People living in Minneapolis' poorest neighborhoods don't always have access to affordable and nutritious food like fresh fruits and vegetables. The foods that are accessible and affordable are often high calorie, low nutrition foods. Promoting urban agriculture contributes to local economic development and food security, while also providing a big opportunity for community building around community-based gardens. In partnership with the Homegrown Minneapolis Food Council, we have improved Minneapolis' urban agriculture policies, but there is still much work to be done. Privately-owned, vacant lots are a potential source of new space for community gardens. With the right incentives, private vacant landowners could be valuable partners in our mission to develop a sustainable and resilient city that is socially-inclusive and food-secure, with a healthy environment for all.
Working with the City Council
The City Council is a critical and powerful player in crafting policy in Minneapolis. Nothing gets done without partnering with them, and I will make it a mission to be in constant collaboration.