Erica on the issues

I’m running for City Council in Minneapolis to champion the progressive change we need right now, so that everyone who lives here can thrive, not just survive. And I believe we can do this together.

I say to everyone who will listen that Minneapolis has all the amenities of bigger cities, and it’s all way more accessible. You can have a good job, a good place to live, access to service opportunities, great parks, great arts, great sports. But I realize that’s not the case for everyone who lives here. Especially, as a queer woman of color, I know that a disproportionate number of people who look like me and families that look like mine are unable to enjoy that access, and that’s a travesty. Everyone should be able to work a decent job, make a decent living, have a decent place to live and enjoy all the great things Minneapolis has to offer.

Given the national political climate, the impact that local government has on our daily lives is of heightened importance. Minneapolis must be a sanctuary in every sense of the word. That means a $15 minimum wage, decent housing that is affordable, government that is transparent and responsive, police who actually protect and serve all residents, proactively addressing climate change and fighting for climate justice, adequate supports and opportunities for youth, a robust food system, a thriving arts culture, and a safe and reliable transportation system.

Political writer Naomi Kritzer ranked Erica 1st in Ward 11! Read on for Erica’s take on issues with links to relevant questionnaires and profiles.

Work Hard for Working People

Working people are the backbone of our city. Everyone who lives here should be able to enjoy health, prosperity, and all the amenities Minneapolis has to offer. Because women and people of color disproportionately hold low-wage jobs, anything we do to support low-wage workers moves us toward economic justice.

Our first priority should be to achieve the remaining pieces of the Working Families Agenda: enacting a fair scheduling ordinance, implementing the $15 minimum wage, eliminating wage theft, and protecting earned sick and safe time from preemption by the state legislature.

As someone who currently works from home, I’ve found a lack of affordable, cooperative office space in Ward 11. This is an opportunity, both for workers and for a business owner!

An economic justice approach dictates that we commit to community wealth building where we have historically disinvested in workers and business owners. I support, in particular, community-led wealth building approaches that are self-determined by residents of North Minneapolis and rooted in those neighborhoods. I also support, more broadly, cooperative business ownership models.

Business ownership is one path to wealth creation, particularly for people of color and indigenous people; healthy small businesses and support for minority business owners help reduce the racial wealth gap. The city must also meet its own procurement goals for businesses owned by people of color, LGBTQ people, and women of all races.

Everyone Should Be Able to Afford a Decent Place to Live

Both housing and rental prices, as well as historically low rental vacancy rates, are indicators that we don’t have enough housing in Minneapolis, period. We need to be building more housing, both market-rate and affordable, to accommodate the city’s growing population.

We have a lot of models and partnerships for creating and maintaining affordable housing. We also have a lot of stereotypes around who uses Section 8 for housing access and whether low-income tenants are “good” tenants. Strengthening renters’ rights allows renters to advocate for themselves without fear of retaliation from landlords, some of whom threaten tenants with a call to immigration officials or eviction without cause instead of being responsive to tenant needs.

The history of racial covenants and redlining in Minneapolis meant that black and Jewish people were largely prevented from living in Ward 11. Our zoning code enshrined the demographic pattern that resulted, limits the type and amount of housing we can build in Ward 11, and is one example of structural racism in our policies. We have not recovered from, much less made up for, racist housing policy from the 20th century. This is a significant contributor to the racial wealth gap.

Housing is a human right, and our approach to ensuring housing for all residents should include:

  • Support the implementation of the $15 minimum wage and advocate for regional adoption, so that people have enough income to afford housing.
  • Build new and preserve existing housing that is affordable.
  • Make all homes in the city safe and healthy by remediating lead, asthma triggers, and other contaminants.
  • Invest in enough housing inspectors to preserve safe and healthy housing.
  • Adopt a Just Cause Eviction ordinance to protect tenants from unfair eviction.
  • Adopt a right-of-first-refusal ordinance for tenants living in rental housing that a property owner wants to sell.
  • Adopt an inclusionary zoning policy that requires a certain amount of affordable units in any new development.
  • Invest in long term affordability through cooperative ownership models and community land trusts.
  • Find funding for the $130 million gap in capital investment required to simply maintain existing public housing. (We found $150 million to help building the Vikings a stadium; imagine if we could have invested that amount in housing instead.)
  • Commit to significant investment in the Affordable Housing Trust Fund and the NOAH Impact Fund.
  • Fight against privatization of existing public housing.
  • Simplify the process for landlords and developers to accept Section 8 vouchers, and enforce anti-discrimination laws against those who won’t accept Section 8.
  • Change zoning in Ward 11 so that “missing middle” housing – triplexes and small apartment buildings – can be built in addition to single family homes.
  • Advocate for development of affordable senior housing and family-sized affordable housing in Ward 11 and across the city.
  • Focus upzoning in Ward 11 around commercial corridors and small commercial nodes in neighborhood interiors.
  • Structurally include renters in our policy-making process for housing.
Accessible Government and Transparency in Democracy

Your city council should be available and accountable to you. You should know what your elected representatives are working on.

  • We should fully update the city’s website, accelerate publishing of open data, and create an open data practices request tracking website.
  • I support implementing the planned pilots for project-based Participatory Budgeting with an eye to expand resident participation in the full budgeting process.
  • I support establishing public financing of elections.
  • I will proactively engage marginalized communities, including people of color and indigenous people, low-income residents, young people, seniors, people with disabilities, and immigrants.
  • I commit to regular availability for meetings with residents, business owners, and organizations in the ward.
  • I commit to regular public education events in the ward on relevant topics, from planned capital projects to neighborhood concerns to city-wide initiatives.
  • I commit to regular, meaningful updates from my office to residents.
  • I will work to end voter suppression and remove barriers to participation in our local democracy.
"Nothing About Us Without Us is For Us"

I’m the only candidate who brings the perspective that there are not policies to “fix” equity. Rather, every single policy has an equity implication. We should always consider LGBTQ and racial justice, consider renters on equal footing with homeowners, and bring forward these equity implications in every conversation. We cannot dismantle institutional racism until we do. The people who are affected by policy decisions should have a say in the policy-making process; we should empower communities to self-determine culturally appropriate solutions for themselves, particularly where policing and housing are concerned.

Erica’s Neighborhoods Organizing for Change questionnaire
Erica’s Voices for Racial Justice/Pollen profile

Fight for Climate Justice

We have to act at the local level to both combat climate change and to make our city resilient in the face of climate change. Our geographic location and access to fresh water – which must be protected – will make us a destination for both refugees from acute weather events and for long-term migration caused by climate change.

Climate resilience must address the root causes of vulnerability such as our persistent gaps between white people and people of color in health, wealth, educational achievement, and employment. Further, climate resilience work must include meaningful engagement of vulnerable and marginalized populations.

Working towards climate resilience is part of a climate justice framework that prioritizes reinvestment in communities that have historically suffered environmental racism. The best tool at hand is our Green Zones initiative. I’m proud to be endorsed by State Representative Karen Clark who has a long history of environmental advocacy and who I’m excited to work with to implement the Green Zones initiative in the Phillips neighborhood.

I will prioritize working in partnership with organizations that employ a climate justice framework. We should all follow the lead of the indigenous and low-income communities that have been on the forefront of environmental justice work. I’m also proud to be endorsed by the DFL Environmental Caucus, one of the DFL’s largest constituency groups.

The city has ample opportunities to move ahead on climate work, both as a policy maker and as a property owner:

  • Install solar panels and/or green roofs on every city property.
  • Encourage deployment of community solar gardens, including some hosted by the city.
  • Adopt an inclusive financing mechanism that allows all customers, regardless of credit score or access to upfront money, access to cost effective energy upgrades.
  • Be willing to explore alternatives to the Clean Energy Partnership, including re-visiting the idea of municipalization and community choice aggregation.
  • Electrify the entire city vehicle fleet.
  • Require energy usage disclosure for rental units.
  • Significantly increase participation in home energy audits and ensure access to energy efficiency upgrades. This also helps keeps housing affordable.
  • Require a minimum energy efficiency investment as part of rental licensing.
  • Increase utility franchise fees by at least 0.5% to dedicate funds to the work of the Clean Energy Partnership. I support raising the fees by 1% to provide dedicated funding for additional work.
  • Secure shorter franchise agreements of not more than 5 years with Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy so we can be more responsive to advances in technology. Beginning in late 2018, the city will have the option to give notice to end the current franchise agreement early.
  • Leverage the Clean Energy Partnership to help Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy help us meet our climate action goals by bringing online more renewable energy in their electricity generation mix.
  • Work aggressively to achieve Zero Waste, increase recycling rates overall, expand organics recycling to apartment and commercial buildings, shut down the HERC garbage burner, and follow through on eliminating the use of single-use plastic bags. (Plastic bag industry lobbyists used the Ward 11 incumbent’s own words to support preemption of the plastic bag ban ordinance at the state capitol.)
  • Invest in capital improvements to finish the Public Works sewer separation project. The remaining Combined Sewer
  • Overflow system means that, when we have large rain events, untreated water – both sewage and stormwater runoff – flow directly into the Mississippi River.
  • Commit to timely implementation of our Complete Streets policy and advocate for public transit that effectively moves residents where they need to go. Housing, jobs, grocery stores, and transit need to be planned and developed in conjunction with each other, so that transit use and housing and job choices are mutually reinforcing.

Erica’s Community Power questionnaire

Vibrant Arts & Sports Culture

Minneapolis is home to incredible visual and performing arts, and an abundance of sporting activity. Our vibrant arts culture should be part of the very fabric of the city, and our professional sporting activities should support the public that so proudly wears team colors.

  • Integrate public art into as many buildings and spaces as possible
  • Expand affordable live/work space for artists, especially space that is accessible to artists of color
  • Require commitments to community activities from professional sports facilities and teams and explore further use of community benefits agreements
  • Strengthen and expand the Creative CityMaking partnership
A More Just Justice System

We should focus on restoring public health, safety, and community, not on restoring order. We should demilitarize our police force, address youth violence proactively through proven public health approaches, and use restorative justice practices as much as possible.

I believe in a Safety Beyond Policing approach. Community resources already exist; we need to adequately fund them and tie them in to 911 to strategically expand our public health and safety response capacity. I’d rather pay three or four more social workers, mental health professionals, and youth workers than two more cops.

Police demographics relative to the city’s population matters because the cultural context of the problems for which people call 911 for help matters. In the absence of a residency requirement for Minneapolis police officers, the cultural context question can be addressed by expanding/funding community services.

We must improve our ability to hold police officers who commit crimes accountable, especially as the city pays out an average of $2 million per year in restitution to victims of police violence. The Office of Police Conduct Review should include only civilians and not sworn officers, in order to maintain its independence. While I do not think that authority over the police department should be removed from the mayor’s office, I think we should explore an expanded role for the council’s Public Safety Committee.

We must work with our partners at the state legislature to update the law so it does not give carte blanche to police who (claim to) feel afraid at the mere sight of people of color.

I also support the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee’s Minneapolis Sanctuary Platform, including enforcing and strengthening our separation ordinance (aka our “Sanctuary City” ordinance), and using municipal IDs for access to services, amenities, and local elections for all residents regardless of status.

We should also continue to repeal ordinances used to unfairly target people of color and the poor, and decriminalize marijuana.

Education & Youth Success

Investing in our youth brings about healthy, successful, engaged communities and residents who stay in Minneapolis for great job opportunities and quality of life.

  • Increase youth employment and out-of-school-time enrichment opportunities
  • Create full-service community schools
  • Invest in the health and well-being of pre-school-age kids
  • Reform the School Resource Officer program
  • Expand facilities and accessible opportunities for youth sports, removing travel as a barrier to participation
  • Creatively connect schools with external community resources and build positive relationships with administrators and teachers
Strengthen Our Neighborhoods

Our neighborhoods have their own culture that should be celebrated, should meet the needs of everyone who lives in them, and should provide an important connection between residents and the city.

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