Tell us about a time — before you were a candidate for public office — where you felt strongly about a local/state political issue. Give an example of the action you took in response.
In high school, many of my undocumented Latino and immigrant friends were struggling to get into college and were uncertain about their futures. After hearing their stories I decided to organize with other students to change state law to allow them to receive in state tuition, and to pass the DREAM act, which allowed many of them the opportunity to go to college.
If elected, what committee assignment would you like to receive and why?
I would like to serve on the health and human services committee. In my ten years experience as a professional interpreter I have seen so many working class and immigrant families struggle to navigate our social services. I believe our social services are chronically underfunded and inaccessible to many people who most need them. I would work to ensure they’re fully funded and that we streamline the process to make them as accessible as possible for the most people.
Do you agree that we’re facing a climate emergency? If yes, what’s the appropriate emergency-level policy response?
Climate change is an existential threat to all life on our planet and Minnesota needs to lead the way forward with urgent action to transition from a fossil fuel driven economy to a clean energy one. That’s why I support a Green New Deal for MN that would create thousands of green jobs and reduce our carbon emissions to 0 by as soon as possible.
Name some specific housing policies you would push as a legislator to make Minneapolis a more affordable place to find housing.
I support rent control and fully funding affordable housing to respond to the housing crisis facing our district, and the nation. I believe in using every tool available to ensure housing is a human right for all including inclusionary zoning laws that would increase access to affordable units in Minneapolis.
Can you identify anything the legislature currently gets wrong on transportation — and how you’d fix this?
Transportation is chronically underfunded, leaving low income Minnesotans, seniors, and people with disabilities with unreliable and inefficient transportation options. I will advocate for a free public transit system that both increases access and prioritizes sustainable alternatives to a fossil fuel driven system such as bike paths and rapid transit.
Identify the top challenges facing schools in your area and how you’d address them.
Our primary schools are underfunded with too few teachers of color, which has contributed to unacceptable racial equity gaps in education. Our colleges are too expensive, leaving students with thousands of dollars in debt. That’s why I support free college tuition and debt forgiveness for all students.
We need to fully fund our public schools and wraparound services, not divert public funds to charter schools. To close the achievement gaps for students of color in Minnesota, some of the worst in the Nation, we must invest in our schools and programs to train and retain more teachers of color.
Name an issue area about which your own knowledge and experience are lacking. How are you learning more? Who do you turn to for advice?
I have been inspired by the creative ideas around the Green New Deal being pushed by members of Congress, that bring bold and fresh solutions to the existential threat posed by climate change. I think the opportunities for job creation and skills training that would ensure we don’t leave workers in the fossil fuel industries behind are critical for Minnesota’s economy. We don’t have to choose between protecting our lakes and rivers and making sure there are good jobs in greater Minnesota, we can and we must do both.
Do you see specific opportunities for the state legislature to support the work of — or remove obstacles for — the Minneapolis City Council and Mayor?
The legislature must remove preemption of rent control and stand firmly against attempts to preempt the $15 minimum wage set by Minneapolis. Instead I will fight to expand $15 and union to all Minnesotans.
We must also repeal “Stanek’s law” which prevents cities from placing residency requirements on those policing our communities. With more than 90% of Minneapolis’ police force living outside of our city, there is an urgent need to revisit this law to create a community safety for and by those who live in it.
Lightning Round – Short answers if possible.
What neighborhood do you live in?
Do you have a favorite Metro Transit bus route? Where does it take you?
The 10 route along the diverse immigrant businesses and restaurants on Central Avenue.
What leadership experience do you have?
I have worked as a professional interpreter and community advocate for over 10 years in both the private and public sectors, including the U.S. Federal Court.
My activism began in college where I she helped organize students to pass the DREAM Act and lower in-state tuition in California. I have worked on numerous local progressive electoral campaigns and as a field manager for Grassroots Democrats HQ, which defends and flips swing districts across the country.
Have you run for elected office before? Which one/s?
Do you support the Minneapolis 2040 plan?
While it could go further, I think it makes important progress especially around inclusionary zoning and opportunities for more affordable housing and multi-family units.