The city is 40% people of color. The 11th ward, despite being somewhat dominated by the white middle class neighborhoods like Tangletown and some of the southern Parkway areas, is growing ever more diverse racially, ethnically, socio-economically, and in terms of age. The inequities and prejudices that exist in our city and our ward are far greater than many realize, and have been consistently not addressed by our municipal institutions. We are at a critical juncture where our city council/government needs people who can think deeply about complicated issues. People who will consider downstream effects and take into account how funding decisions, policies, and city council actions affect our diverse community. People who can see the needs of our entire ward and city–not only the white and cis-het, but also different communities of color, LGBTI, and other marginalized groups–and thoughtfully apply those perspectives in their decision-making. I also believe we need someone who can share and sincerely discuss their thought processes behind their positions, such that even if we were to disagree, we can know that the position was well thought out and based in a desire to do right.
This means moving beyond simply talk of affordable housing, platitudes about economic inequality, and slick, savvy self-promotion that sounds good but actually says very little. It means more than merely showing up at events related to community diversity that were organized by others. Truly addressing these matters involves large step beyond “Aww shucks, I know I’m a straight white guy” or taking credit for other people’s work in one’s newsletter. And it is going to involve being willing to say things that question some (white, middle to upper-middle class) assumptions and discomfort people a little–regardless of where a council person or a constituent may ultimately end up on a particular vote, this questioning is essential to the process.
I am supporting Erica Mauter because over the past several months of listening to all three candidates, I have become convinced that she is the best person for the job; she is smart, she is qualified, and she brings to the table a perspective that runs deeper than either of her opponents. I’m not voting for her “just because she is a queer person-of-color” (though i think having greater physical representation in government by people LGBTI and racially diverse identities groups IS critical to addressing issues in our city.) Erica is a deep thinker and a sincere communicator. She looks at issues from a variety of angles, she considers downstream effects and how choices in one area affect broader racial and equity issues. This is evident in her work on the City of Minneapolis Capital Long-Range Improvements Committee. She has an analytical mind, and she communicates her thinking in a manner that is straight-forward and without artifice.
This is what I want and expect from my city council member.