Issues

City Services

I had really hoped that Waste Management's pickup problems would be solved by now, but it seems this topic will continue to roll into the next cycle. Like many residents, I'm not happy with the unpredictable pickups and lack of transparency. I hope the council can see the contract and use fines and other punitive measures against Waste Management. A credit of the $7 for lack of service doesn't cover the inconvenience. For many small businesses in a staff shortage, you'd see management working in those positions. Until I see management driving the trucks and hauling waste, they aren't doing everything they can!

In the interim(which will likely be all summer it seems), we need to use city staff and vehicles to do yard waste pickup on a consistent interval. Well-intended, community-organized pickup leaves individuals open to litigation when accidents happen, as we saw with the waste management vehicle and the cable line. And anywho who has ever left out a Bagster for pickup knows why putting unsecured drop-off sites in front of random houses is a bad idea. One you may not have thought of, is that in large quantities, yard waste likes to catch fire*! This is something best left to the professionals. The city council and clerk's office are already working on ways to use safe, responsible, professional solutions with city staff and vehicles, but it may take some time to get going.

Communication

One day two summers ago, my house was shaking. It sounded like someone had dropped a bowling ball that was crashing through a floor. My roommate came rushing upstairs thinking something was horribly wrong with the house. The bombing of the water treatment plant continued over the week. It wasn't until the second time when I was outside and heard the booms that I realized it wasn't just my house.

Luckily, I had a Facebook account and searched until I found the notice from the city about the water treatment plant. My neighbors across the street had received mailed notices from the city, but the effects of the bombing went much further. My roommate and many of my neighbors don't have Facebook and didn't know what was going on.

This was not the first or last time(e.g. waste management!), I only found out about a planned city issue on Facebook. Many of our neighbors are not on social media or even the internet. FACEBOOK IS NOT AN ACCEPTABLE FORM OF COMMUNICATION!! Being on Facebook should not be a requirement to live in this city.

  • I will work with the other city council members and city staff to move to more inclusive and alternative forms of communication including text subscriptions, opt-out mailers, email newsletters, status pages, and call-in information lines (think like the one for jury duty or automated test results).

  • The website is also long overdue for an update from a professional with experience in government sites. The website documents need to be easily searchable and viewable on mobile devices. With searchable pdfs!!!

  • As a city councilor, I will also pledge to communicate effectively. I will answer emails from constituents -- even if we disagree. I will also do more than throw up a Facebook poll and call it a day. I will explicitly reach out to residents from throughout the ward for feedback through quarterly door knocks, phone calls, and text messages.

Reproductive Rights

We claim that city council races are “non-partisan” but I own my identity as a proud member of the Minnesota DFL and a pro-choice one at that. Within our district, there is an abortion clinic Robbinsdale Clinic Pa where patients are frequently accosted.

I will defend the rights and privacy of patients ensuring local ordinances requiring protestors to maintain a safe distance are enforced so that they do not endanger the patients who visit the clinic for a variety of services including family planning and STD/STI treatment. Rather than coming up with my own solutions, especially ones that traumatize patients with police presence, I will work with the clinic owner to mobilize solutions she comes up with based on her many years of experience.

If the Supreme Court Decision has left you wanting to get more involved in reproductive rights, please consider joining organizations like Minnesota_NOW and volunteering to be an abortion clinic escort with Planned Parenthood or another organization*.


*Pro-Choice MN is the escort service for the Robbinsdale Clinic, but their training classes are full.

Transportation

When I first moved to Robbinsdale in 2014, the blue line was supposed to be done by 2020. As a big proponent of public transportation, it was a selling factor when I bought the house. When I came back from Europe, work still hadn't even started. Now, it's held up again by some members of our city council. It's time to elect a city council that is willing to put in the work and get the rail line moving! 🚊

That means finding safe solutions for pedestrians and cyclists to cross and creating more parking to replace what will be lost and provide for increased demand for park-and-ride. It also means ensuring the train is a safe place with public safety measures in place.

Businesses need to have a say in where the work will be done as they may lose visibility or even access to their establishments.

In addition, the light rail project will bring much-needed infrastructure funding reducing the costs to Robbinsdale residents. And unlike the SW line, the proposed route on County Rd 81, is county-owned land which means fewer complications.

The light rail is also essential for public safety and for reducing DUIs. Trains are an effective and efficient way to get downtown and not worry about driving back after one too many.

Pedestrian and Cyclist Safety

Even before I moved to Europe and gave up owning a car for three years, I loved being able to walk around town or bike along the many beautiful trails. Over the years though, I have noticed a few spots which could be safer and where crosswalks and even sidewalks are needed.

In particular, I support:

  • White stripes to indicate the crosswalks at the intersection of 40th and Broadway.

  • More pedestrian level lighting on the Robbinsdale side of the 36th Avenue bridge

  • Finding a safe way for bikes to cross 42nd and Broadway

I also support the efforts by councilwoman Webb and others to reduce the speed limit on residential streets down to 25mph and will push for a 20mph on some streets.

Renters and Small, Independent Landlords

As someone who has been a renter, roommate, single-inhabitant home-owner, and small, independent landlord all in the last 10 years, I have seen how someone with even the best of intentions can be trapped by racist, and in other ways biased, housing policies and property managers. Therefore, I support repealing the "crime-free" lease addendums to make renting more equitable for all.*

I also plan to:

  • Enforce violations of large rental agencies without placing a burden on small, independent landlords

  • Propose reasonable rent control measures to keep Robbinsdale affordable

  • Add a 10% cap on rent increases. If homeowners can petition a tax increase of 10% so should renters be able to petition rent increases of more than 10%!

If a community-organized group, proposed a tenants' bill of rights that was fair and equitable, I would support it. I say community-organized because I am a community organizer and bringing smart people together to solve tough problems is a key part of the job. Ideas should come from multiple people, not just one council member dictating their opinions.

Labor

Actions > Words. The only Ward 3 candidate with Union Printed Lit and Yard Signs

Look for the union bug!


Support for City Employees and Contractors

I support labor unions and will continue the existing contracts with:

  • International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 49

  • American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)

When considering new building projects, I will consider union status, open labor disputes, and safety records not just the lowest bid.

In addition, when creating new positions and evaluating salary increases for all city positions, I will argue for a monthly pay that is at least 3x the average rent of a 1-bedroom apartment allowing people who work in Robbinsdale to be able to live in Robbinsdale. Based on current rates*, that would be a $22/hr minimum wage. This includes when partnering with programs like Americorps.

City-wide Minimum Wage

There are some procedural things to work out first, but I'd like to see a $15(or higher!) minimum wage city-wide within the first 2 years. City Worker wages are in direct control and so they can be adjusted by the city council from day 1.

Climate Change and the Environment

I will continue efforts such as:

  • "No Mow May" (although I hope next year can be more organized than this year).

  • Using Minnesota native plants in city garden projects like the ones around Crystal Lake.

  • Encouraging homeowners to plant drought-tolerant and native lawns to protect our precious water supply and support our bee population. I will further propose a rebate for homeowners who do.

  • Approving petitions for responsible bee-keeping and backyard chickens*

I will propose:

  • Investing in solar energy on more city buildings including at city hall.

  • Litter(especially from dogs) is becoming a problem on our residential streets. Bless the woman on 39th and Noble for her great community service. I will petition for more trash cans, especially near bus stops, to help with litter that is frequently left in our yards. To combat graffiti, they can be decorated with artwork.

Smarter Policing

Public safety is a tough topic for Robbinsdale. We have seen an increase in crime, especially violent crime lately, but we need to ensure that safety is done equitably.

I believe that means investing in prevention and smarter solutions. Police departments are reactionary forces and communities can help with preventing crime. In particular, crime watch/crime prevention groups will receive Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion(DE&I) training and focus on knowing their neighbors to reduce the number of false "suspicious person" reports common in neighborhood watches.

Police officers have A LOT of responsibilities. Having an officer trained for all of different these situations is impossible and a disservice to the community. We don't have police officers to fight fires and have separate fire departments for a reason. The same should be true for other services. I will move some of the responsibilities of the police department like mental health calls and vagrancy to social workers and referrals to community programs and invest in technology and automation like speed safety cameras that will reduce the number of dangerous traffic stops and reduce the time commitment for our already understaffed police department.

Proposals:

  • Add a signing bonus/incentive for police offers recruits who have lived in Robbinsdale for at least 5 years. More for a history of community engagement.

  • Continue/revive efforts to improve lighting with solar if possible.

Youth Programs

I will work to have Robbinsdale added to the Brooklyn Bridge Alliance for Youth, an organization the Robbinsdale Area Schools are already a part of, to help young people in crisis, provide community activities, and encourage youth participation in government.

One of the reasons for the uptick in small petty crime in our neighborhood is that kids are just plain bored. Without a community space and things to do, it's easy to play chicken with cars on Railroad Ave or pester the neighbors.

Community Space

According to local residents, the second floor of the Hubbard Marketplace Transit Center is unused and has a very beautiful and historic second floor. I will work with the Metropolitan Council to make this space (a ballroom and several offices) available to city residents. It could be used for classes, event rentals, and extra office space for the city.

I do NOT support the community center plans for Sanborn park which would be disruptive and extremely costly at that location. Residents spoke up the last time it was proposed and I will be a voice for them this time.

Elevating our History

After visiting the very cramped Robbinsdale Historical Society and talking with neighbors, it is evident that the historical society needs more space. One option would be to take back the art gallery space. Another would be to find a place in city hall, the transit center, or another common area to have a rotating special exhibit (e.g. Whiz Bang comics, Terrace Theater, Robbins family history) that switches every quarter or so.

Alternate Side Snow Emergency

For many residents who part on the street, snow emergencies are a major hassle. For my roommate with a truck too big to fit in the garage, that meant parking in the small spot in front of the garage blocking my car in. For my neighbor, she rents a spot to another Robbinsdale resident in exchange for them snow shoveling her pathways. Others just give up and keep their car in the street anyway.

Residents need somewhere to park even if it's a street over. I'm proposing alternate side parking during snow emergencies. Snow emergency routes like Noble would be excluded.

Bill's Gun Shop

I believe that the regulation of gun sales belongs at the state and federal levels and I will not impose any city-level restrictions or harass their business with unwarranted inspections.

The city-level business regulations would be the same as any other business.

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On a personal level, I believe in safe and responsible gun ownership. Safety classes and practice ranges are one way to get there. The Robbinsdale location is also not what I expected. It's a lot more diverse than my initial expectations. I recommend visiting before making assumptions.

Combatting this country's gun violence is something we can work with local police to identify and prevent and work with state and federal elected officials on a ban on the sale/possession of war machines to individuals outside of range facilities. Although those aren't city issues.

General Inclusivity

As a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, I would be happy to work with the HRC and support and/or drive a Robbinsdale pride in the park event in 2023.

Ranked Choice Voting

As we've seen in this 6-person primary, having only 1 choice is tough. I support using ranked-choice voting in city races (when passed at the state level).

Your Concerns!

See something that isn't represented here or that doesn't have enough detail? Let me know at info@jenn4mn.com.

I'm not and will never claim to be an expert in everything. There are many topics that I rely on my neighbors for their feedback and support. Even if we don't agree, I will listen. Some of the best conversations I've had were with people who didn't agree with me on the more progressive topics like the Blue Line Extension. I learned to get to the root of the problem and find that we are often coming from the same place. I may not be able to solve all of the problems, but I can make your life just a little bit easier.