Policy Ideas

KFAI Radio Interview

On October 19th, KFAI radio (90.3 FM) aired a news story on the First Ward Council race. Four of the five competitors were interviewed, and those interviews were edited into individual segments. Here's mine:

Left Out

One of my campaign principles is advocacy for the unengaged. In my experience, our political system ignores too many people. With my history as a non-party community activist, I know what it feels like to be an outsider. I’m running to help bring the outside in.

Amusingly, as I was typing my previous post about last night’s candidate forum, I received a call from the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis. They wanted to know if I was voting next week. I said yes.

Then the caller asked which candidate I was voting for and listed four of the five names on the ballot. She didn’t mention me.

I told the caller that she didn’t list the candidate I was voting for. She just continued with her script, making sure I knew who the Federation had endorsed.

I suppose I should be mad. But I’m not. The Federation has sent me enough postcards to wallpaper a bedroom, too. I see it all as a symptom of the dysfunction in our city. I don’t think we get good results when money and connections rule politics. Instead of being angry, I’m out knocking on doors trying to make the system work better.

Building a Voluntary City

During last week-end’s doorknocking I was asked to say more about what I mean by encouraging volunteer groups that help our city work better.

My biggest and most personal example is the Northeast Citizen Patrol (NECP). We’re extra eyes and ears for the police. When an NECP patrol is on the sidewalk, the bad guys have a hard time doing business. We‘ve proven our effectiveness over five years. The Mayor even proclaimed May 11th, 2009, to be Northeast Citizen Patrol Day.

I understand patroling is not for everyone. Less-formal walking groups and block clubs help our city work better by helping prevent crime. I want to encouage participation in any form that is effective.

The Eastside Food Co-op began a plastics recycling program with support from the City. Now EFC is continuing the program on its own, supporting all of us to leave a smaller footprint on the planet. And that’s just one example from this hive of volunteer energy.

The Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association puts on the spectacular Art-a-Whirl every year. They promote arts and culture in Northeast and the whole city without taxpayer subsidies. Times are tough, and although City Hall can’t afford artful water fountains, our arts community can step forward to help make Northeast more awesome.

Northeaster Candidate Questionnaire

As I was out doorknocking Monday and Tuesday afternoon, I saw the latest Northeaster being delivered. In case your copy didn’t make it all the way to your front steps (or got too wet to read), here are my answers to the Northeaster’s candidate questionnaire:

1) YOUR BACKGROUND: EMPLOYMENT, EDUCATION, COMMUNITY SERVICE, VOLUNTEER JOBS, ETC., AS THESE EXPERIENCES MIGHT RELATE TO YOUR QUALIFICATIONS FOR THIS OFFICE. (100 WORDS OR LESS)

I came up through the NRP system. I was recruited onto my neighborhood Board and served two terms as President. From grassroots outreach to working with City officials on neighborhood projects, I’ve done everything a volunteer can do to address community concerns.

I was the first volunteer for the Northeast Citizen Patrol. I’ve put in thousands of hours across every Northeast neighborhood making a stand against crime. I’ve heard the worries of people our entrenched political system overlooks.

I’ve been a Northeaster for 18 years, after being raised in southwest. I know how the rest of the city sees us.

2) WHY ARE YOU RUNNING, AND WHAT IS YOUR MAIN PRIORITY? (100 WORDS OR LESS)

Taxes keep going up while services are being cut. City Hall puts pet projects ahead of streets, cops and firefighters. I say, “Basics First!”

Mr. President, I Couldn’t Agree More

One of my policy ideas is to encourage volunteer groups that make our city work better. I see that as the best way to maintain our quality of life while keeping a lid on taxes. And, empowering volunteers creates engagement from the bottom up. People participate where they can make a difference on issues important to them.

President Obama agrees:

Issues:

Land Banks Can Empower Neighborhood Development

One of my campaign principles is Responsibility. A responsible government is humble and leaves more power to the people than it takes for itself.

This principle leads to two policy priorities: Neighborhoods should drive development; and, community organizations that help the city work better should be encouraged and rewarded.

These aren’t just wishes. I have been part of trying to make this happen along Central Avenue. My neighborhood (Audubon Park) realized that if we keep looking at developers as enemies, nothing will improve. So we held a couple of Developer Roundtables—open discussions where we asked developers about the problems they face and how a neighborhood group might help them build something awesome.

Issues:

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