As I’ve been walking our neighborhoods I observe where people are, where grocery stores are, where transit is, where schools, businesses, rec centers are. I also wonder, are resources accessible? Do people feel safe? There’s so much complexity and variety in our communities.
We must build a state where we can live, not just survive. I am grounded in that work through my lived experience, and I will never stop fighting for the things our communities deserve.
A JUST WORKPLACE
During my time on the school board, we worked hard to make sure that every employee in all 26 bargaining units started with at least $15 an hour. At the same time, we’ve fought for $15 for so long that it isn’t a living wage anymore. The cost of living, especially housing costs, have only continued to skyrocket. It’s past time we raised the state minimum wage and indexed it to inflation. If we just raise the wage without indexing, we just set ourselves up to keep having the same fight over and over while our communities continue to fall behind.
When I was pregnant with my youngest son, I was forced out of my workplace because the company did not want to give me maternity leave. I don’t want anyone else to experience that, or to lose a job because of needing to take care of a sick parent or kid, or fear losing their job because of a personal illness. We need to fight for universal family leave, and expand municipal sick & safe time policies statewide.
Childcare is a massive financial limitation for families and single parents. I was only able to work and get a degree because of my extended family, and that’s not available to everyone. The legislature needs to either further expand childcare subsidies or move towards direct funding of childcare programs. Programs also need to support modern irregular and part time work schedules. If we want parents to be able to be in the workplace and to participate in public life, access to childcare is a necessity.
Republicans in the legislature are politicizing the approval of negotiated contracts with state employees. I will always work to promptly pass contracts for public employees. The people who make our state work, like every worker, deserve a regular paycheck that isn’t tied up in partisan politics.
I am excited by the expansion of unionization drives in the service industry. When I worked in service jobs, I needed protections against workplace harassment and unjust termination, and only received them while I was a member of BCTGM at Cub.
In the Senate, I will continue to support prevailing wage laws, keeping state contracts with unionized contractors, expanding the right to unionize, and for safe working conditions.
I strongly support efforts to unionize the clean energy sector, and will fight for a just transition for workers whose jobs will be impacted with the shift towards renewable energy.
The recent executive order banning conversion therapy in Minnesota is a good first step, but an executive order can be reversed the same way. The legislature has considered a ban before, and we should pass it into law.
Many trans & nonbinary people struggle to access gender affirming health care. I’ll work to expand access and to make sure that it is covered under our current healthcare system.
SPPS has a strong gender inclusion policy, including that all new construction has to include gender inclusive bathrooms. As we’ve been updating buildings, we’ve been adding them to existing buildings, too. There are people who want to pretend gender inclusive bathrooms are scary for political gain. I’ll always stand against the politicians who use fear and bigotry as tools to divide us, and will fight for our trans students and community members.
As an elected leader I’ve learned that it’s one thing to pass policy, and another to ensure that it is implemented and enforced. Enforcement isn’t a power given to legislative bodies, but when we assign priorities we are responsible for ensuring that the agencies and departments that have that authority have the means of performing that enforcement. I support expanding the number of state staff working on discrimination protections and defending the rights of our LGBTQ+ community members.
Gender & Sexual Violence
We have to eradicate sexual violence, harrassment, and assualt. I’ve experienced these things, and I don’t want one more person to live with those experiences.
We need to expand protections for whistleblowers and those that come forward. Fear of retaliation too often keeps people quiet. We have to defend and support one another.
I strongly believe that education can be part of the solution. I support establishing K-12 curricula statewide that teaches personal boundaries, bodily autonomy, consent, and respect as part of a comprehensive sex ed program.
Minnesota is overdue to pass affirmative consent legislation, in which consent is defined as a fully informed “yes” given without the influence of drugs, alcohol, or intimidation.
Minnesota has long been an island of choice within our region. Recent actions by the Supreme Court will only make this more pronounced. The fight to defend reproductive freedom will only become more dangerous.
I am angry. Angry at people who would tell me what to do with my own damn body. At the attempts to take away autonomy from our communities. We know that attacks on choice, preventative care, and abortions are attacks on the economic independence of women and people with uteruses, and on our presence in public life.
I will fight to defend choice and access to preventative care in Minnesota. I will pursue reproductive justice for women, trans folks, people in low wealth communties, and will work to ensure access to contraception, women’s health clinics, and abortion services.
spousal income in its calculations, people often lose their eligibility, and their ability to support themselves, if they get married. That’s unacceptable, and I’ll fight for a more just system.
I support eliminating carve-outs to minimum wage law that allow employers to legally under-pay disabled workers. Everyone deserves a living wage.
People across the world come to Minnesota to seek refuge and to make lives for themselves, and they make Minnesota better. We can’t just say all are welcome here, our actions need to reflect that all are welcome. We have to see the humanity and joy in our relationships with one another. In our schools, I’ve seen the ways in which studying and celebrating the traditions, cultures, and history of immigrant communities enriches us all.
ICE only causes trauma and harm. We can’t eliminate the department at the state level, but I will work to limit cooperation between ICE and state employees and their ability to use state owned facilities. I pledge to use any positional power I have to influence our congressional decision makers to eliminate ICE and its violently oppressive threats to our communities.
The War on Drugs has been devastating for communities of color. We absolutely need to legalize marijuana, but legalization is not enough. We must reverse the punishments of the past. Most importantly we must release and expunge the records of those who have been imprisoned for nonviolent offenses. Legalization that doesn’t include automatic release and expungement further perpetuates injustice.
Criminal Justice Reform
I lost my brother to gun violence in 1998, twelve days before Christmas. It still feels like it was yesterday. Our gun laws don’t keep us safe. We have to do better. I’ve served on the board of Protect Minnesota, and I am deeply committed to this work. Public health research, banning assault weapons, passing background check legislation, closing loopholes on sales, and preventing domestic abusers from purchasing are necessary steps to preventing future harm.
Police shootings must also be considered gun violence, and we can’t begin making the changes we need without including them.
As a Black mom, when we talk about public safety I think about whose safety we mean and whose safety we are prioritizing. Even before the murders of Philando Castille and George Floyd, part of keeping my children safe has been teaching them to be cautious about interacting with law enforcement. At the times in my life when I most needed the protection of law enforcement, I have been treated with contempt and suspicion because of being a single mom and because of the color of my skin. What we have doesn’t work and hasn’t worked.
We need to invest in separate interventions for people in crisis, mental health episodes, and basic wellness checks that move away from untrained armed police officers dealing with people in crisis. Too often the results are senseless tragedy.
I don’t believe we need police in our schools. I have repeatedly voted against Student Resource Officers.
BUILDING A BETTER WORLD
Our climate is changing before our eyes. We can’t wait to take action. Our state has to make serious investments in clean energy to preserve nature and keep people safe.
I oppose Line 3. It is a climate disaster and an affront to Indigenous sovereignty. Additionally, the state must not move forward with permitting the polymet & Twin Metals mines. The risk to clean water isn’t worth it.
Right now, the fossil fuel & mining industries are a source of well paying, stable, union jobs. Many jobs in the Green Energy sector are not comparable. We can’t leave workers behind. If we create a Green Economy that is built on gig work and exploitation, we won’t have a better world. I strongly support efforts to unionize the clean energy sector, and will fight for a just transition for workers.
I grew up in new Rondo. I saw the impact of environmental racism every day: in the ways that communities of color become heat islands, in higher rates of asthma, in how zoning permits polluting industries closer to our homes, in how our communities are bulldozed to make way for interstate highways. We have to avoid repeating the harms of the past.
We need to be honest about our history. Our communities still feel the effects of racial covenants in housing. That systematic discrimination continues to impact the financial security of BIPOC Minnesotans.
Housing is expensive, and often hard to find. House prices and rents in our district are skyrocketing. We absolutely must build more housing, but building more housing won’t be enough on its own. We have to make sure our neighbors aren’t forced out. We have to strengthen tenant protections and build more public housing.
We can’t have stable communities when so many of our people live under the threat of eviction or under the fear of being forced out of our neighborhoods. We lose so much of our history and of our multi-generational richness when housing costs force seniors to leave. In our schools, we have students whose families have to move again and again, in and out of the district during the school year. How can we expect students to thrive living in that state of uncertainty? We have to do better.
When I talk to unhoused neighbors, I hear about trust, about problems with the shelter system, about families surfing from couch to couch to stay off the street, about how hard it is to find stable housing when you don’t already have a place to live. It’s not where people want to be. We have to do better by our neighbors. We should explore alternative models, like the proposals to put small independent living units and onsite support staff inside vacant retail space.
Infrastructure & Transportation
As a state, we are living off of past investments. We need to do proper bonding and to invest in maintenance as well as new projects – if we wait until wastewater systems are breaking or a bridge is crumbling, we’re mismanaging our resources. Large bonding bills are an investment in our economy and in good, union jobs.
We should treat public transportation as a public utility. The goal is to provide a service, not to generate revenue. We should fund transit projects accordingly. Not everyone has or wants a car. If we are serious about fighting climate change, we have to fight to make transit a more viable option for more people. Not everyone who walks out their door can easily walk to a bus stop. Schools are not always connected to the route network. Besides expanding routes and adding capacity to make sure that scheduling is predictable, I would like to explore the zero fare model because we should be actively working to increase ridership. Investing in public transportation adds union jobs to our communities.
The gas tax in Minnesota buys us a third less than it did twenty years ago. Minnesota should increase the tax and index it to inflation so that we can better invest in public building projects.
When I walk through the district, I can see the places where we have empty buildings and shuttered businesses. We need to invest in small business development that encourages money to stay in our communities.
College is not affordable. There are too many people in our communities that have no path to ever paying off student loans. I still have mine. Student debt directly impacts our ability to live – to change careers, to buy homes, to have children. It is a looming crisis that will only get worse. No one can get their head above water.
The real solution is student debt forgiveness at the federal level. I will support that work, and will lobby the Minnesota delegation to treat it as a priority. The pandemic payment freeze was lifesaving for many, but we can do more.
In the meantime, we can work on making sure that Minnesota’s university system does not leave learners with crushing debt, and to create a path towards zero cost postsecondary education for learners.
College has been treated as the only path to a good job and a fulfilling career, and that’s not true. I will work to expand opportunities for young people to enter the trades and to have access to good, union jobs.
My pathway into activism was through fighting for a better public education system. I got started with an internship with the Saint Paul Federation of Educators, and as a Trainer with the Parent Teacher Home Visit Project.
So many of the problems facing our schools come down to inadequate funding. Funding can’t even keep up with inflation. The system for special education funding is broken. Unfunded mandates proliferate. Charter school expansion poses its own issue. Our state faces massive racial disparities in education – if we want equitable outcomes, we have to start by fully funding our schools. We’ve seen how having clinics and direct services in schools are a powerful resource for students & teachers, but everyone can’t have access to those things with our current levels of funding.
I’ve met with legislators to press for increased per-pupil funding, for approval of the pension plan, for the state to meet its commitments to special education, and for fully funded public schools. I haven’t just talked with our metro delegation – I’ve worked to build a shared legislative agenda across district lines. I’ve talked with rural board members & legislators about how what helps their districts helps everyone. We can’t get where we need to go with just the people who already understand our view. I’ve been purposeful about talking to those who don’t understand yet about our shared values around education, about what students need across the state.
When I was in History & Ethnic Studies courses at Metro State, I learned history and stories that I’d never learnt before. I’ve been excited by the work to develop culturally relevant curriculum and ethnic studies programs in Saint Paul. Our education system is enriched by celebrating our diversity, and by an honest reckoning with the past. There are so many histories that tie us together in this time and this place. I would like to see ethnic studies established as a statewide graduation requirement, as well state level policies for comprehensive sex ed, and the expansion of Saint Paul’s gender inclusion policy.
Healthcare is a human right and a public good. I support single payer, and would vote for John Marty’s Minnesota Health Plan.
We can’t continue with our current system. It’s awful and it hurts people. Even if you have good insurance, navigating the system is deliberately difficult. Not everyone has the time and knowledge to access the care they need. Costs continue to climb. There are not controls in place to prevent price gouging on epipens, inhalers, and other life saving medication. We lose too many people because they can’t afford to survive.
We know that there are politicians who will fearmonger about fraud in order to limit who can participate in our democracy. And we know who those attacks are aimed at – the wealthy few want to prevent our black & brown neighbors from having an equal say. We have to fight back, and strengthen our elections and make it easier to vote.
Minnesota has excellent voter registration laws, but there are still opportunities to improve them. We can fix the voucher rules that limit the number of neighbors a person can vouch for, and we can allow pre-registration of people who haven’t yet turned eighteen and implement automatic voter registration. Many of the temporary pandemic absentee balloting rules should be made permanent or expanded – I would like to see every registered voter in Minnesota automatically get a mail-in ballot. We should make sure that everyone has physical access to the ballot box – we need to add more enforcement and education to the existing laws that allow us to take time off work to vote, and make public transit free on Election Day and have free shuttles to Early Vote locations. And as DFLers, we should allow any resident adult to participate in our caucuses, because everyone in our communities deserves to have their voices heard in our processes.
The pandemic has been impossibly hard. Too many people, including me, will mourn for the people we’ve lost for the rest of our lives. Our communities will be dealing with those losses, and the long term health effects of COVID, for a long time. Even when the pandemic is over it won’t be over – we need to begin preparing for the long term effects on our systems now. We’ll be feeling the pandemic’s legacy five, ten, fifteen years from now. The effects on our healthcare systems, on the state’s budget, on our student’s educations, will be lasting. We cannot afford to minimize or just move on.
While I am glad Minnesota did not end pandemic unemployment programs early, we should be seeking to expand those programs. We should not be forcing people into unsafe working conditions, and should be protecting people who are or have family members who are immunocompromised. As well, too many jobs don’t pay a living wage. Pandemic programs should be permanent. There is no date of expiration for this pandemic, we must make sure that we are supporting people in our communities.
I would like to see more clear direction on vaccine and mask mandates come from the state’s health partners. As we prepare to roll out booster vaccines, we need to prioritize front line workers and the communities most impacted by COVID.