No elected body has more immediate impact on the opportunity gap and the social safety net than the County Board. With a budget of $1.8 billion, the second largest in the state (after the state itself), Hennepin County has both tremendous resources and enormous responsibility to improve lives. With my background in progressive advocacy, my service as a state representative, and my understanding of finance, I look forward to working with you to make a difference in our region.
Interdisciplinary Thinking — Smart Investing Mindset
Government services, if provided thoughtfully, and dollars, if invested smartly, hold the potential to greatly shape the future of our community. It’s important that the County makes investments that operate on multiple levels, and include everyone. Some writers refer to this as the “double-” or “triple-bottom line” — equity, economic, environmental, housing, health — just some of the ways dollars can be put to work in multiple concurrent ways. Any investment must be made thoughtfully so that solutions will work in synchrony.
Children and Families
If we as a community are going to grapple with the gaps in education, jobs, and well-being that exist between whites and people of color, then early childhood is the place to start. Every dollar invested in early childhood returns as much as $16 for children most at risk. Let’s take an interdisciplinary, intergenerational approach to put every infant on the path to success. Click here to read more about children and families.
Health Care and Families
Skyrocketing healthcare costs and reduced reimbursement are currently the biggest challenge facing Hennepin County’s budget, and ability to provide services to citizens. Making sure the Hennepin healthcare system is financially sustainable means the County will be able to continue providing quality healthcare to all. I will work with the legislature and other Minnesota counties to ensure payment for services provided to residents of other communities. I support targeted initiatives to address the needs of communities experiencing health disparities. Click here to read more about health care and families.
Mental health issues impair people’s ability to succeed on multiple fronts and across different age, cultural and socioeconomic groups, contributing to truancy, academic problems, legal problems, joblessness, homelessness, and chemical dependency, among other vulnerabilities. I want to ensure that the county’s role in delivering mental health services is balanced between both prevention and treatment, is focused on multiple points of access to care available to citizens across the life-span, and prioritizes cultural accessibility, multi-generational treatment, and trauma-informed practice. Investment in mental health care pays off in higher school performance, greater job productivity, reductions in crime and recidivism, reductions in homelessness, and greater life satisfaction for countless numbers of people. Click here to find out more about mental health.
Reproductive Health Care
As a safety net hospital providing health care for low-income, the uninsured, and vulnerable populations, Hennepin County Medical Center plays a critical role in our community. I believe reproductive health care, including abortion care, is a basic human right that should be afforded to all residents across the County. I will work with community members, patients and HCMC staff to create a path forward towards ensuring full access to this standard of care.
Retirement and Aging
Projections show that the number of residents in the region age 65+ will grow by 150% by 2040. The County needs to plan now in order to accommodate that growth. I will advocate for aging-in-place initiatives, with transit, pedestrian, health, housing and other coordinated support. Programs such as St. Paul’s block nurse program keep neighborhoods safe and allow our older residents to age with choices, dignity, and respect.
Housing and Homelessness
Hennepin County as a whole could learn from St. Louis Park’s successes at avoiding concentrated poverty. I will advocate to develop more housing that is truly affordable, and work to ensure an economically integrated community. While school districts’ teach our youth when they’re in school, Hennepin County can reduce mobility among families with children so that children are ready to learn when they reach school. Commissioner Gail Dorfman has done nation-leading work in the effort to end homelessness. Let’s fully implement the Housing First model, which has proven that coordinating human and social services with housing is the best way to help people achieve self-sufficiency and alleviate long-term homelessness.
My vision for Hennepin County is a multimodal transportation system that is highly networked and highly integrated. I support initiatives that make choosing to bike, walk or use transit easier. I will be a voice for transit-oriented development that increases equitable access to opportunity, and engenders strong neighborhoods for people of all ages. Click here to read more about transit.
A Healthy Environment for All
I will partner with communities in Hennepin County to support a collective commitment to be a Zero Waste County. I support legislative efforts to return money to counties to fund recycling and composting efforts. The recent announcement to stop the expansion of the the HERC (Hennepin County Energy Recovery Center, also known as the “burner”) is an important environmental step, but let’s work to end (or dramatically change) its contract in 2018. Click here to read more about the environment.
County Law Enforcement
I want to see Hennepin County become a “sanctuary” county – a place where people can live, work and play without county inquiry into one’s immigration status. I’d also like to work with the state legislature and the Hennepin County Sheriff’s office to ease enforcement of evictions where banks have not made attempts to renegotiate — particularly in cases involving families with infant children. Hennepin County will not reach its full potential until it is a place that respects and values all members of the community.
Libraries are ready-made community hubs. Libraries expand opportunities for families and children to engage in learning. I will advocate at the County for continued expansion of open hours, striving for 9am-9pm at all 41 libraries throughout the County. I will bring Hennepin’s school districts together with the libraries to make textbooks available at libraries.
Our region will be better served to the extent that services can be coordinated and decisions informed by data. I will advocate for standardized data-sharing across administrative departments, to measure how lives are improved by the County and to inform investment and programming. I will work to update privacy policies to reflect today’s greater use of data in decision making.