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 2013, I was reading an article deeming Minnesota the worst state in the county to be a minority. After reading, I began to talk with people about it. One person I spoke with was my friend who works for the Department of Humans Services (D H S), and DHS Commissioner Anne Berry. Together, we worked to form the Disparity Reduction Team with members representing different community and cultural groups in MN. We met once a week for nine months. After that time, we decided to draft a bill to create a state council that will focus solely on disparities. That bill passed and became the Cultural and Ethnic Communities Leadership Council, the state body that gives policy recommendations on reducing disparity, and advises the Commissioner of the Department of Human Services.
If elected, what committee assignment would you like to receive and why?
The follow are my top three committees that I would like to be assigned: o Health and Human Services Policy because I care about ensuring affordable, quality healthcare for all, and that all Minnesotans have access to childcare. o Housing Finance and Policy Division because housing is an issue that hits close to home for me because as a renter, I have seen my rent nearly double in a decade and many of my neighbors are in similar positions or worse off. We need to work together as a state collaboratively with local governments to find solutions. o Jobs and Economic Development Finance Division because I care about making sure we are creating high quality, high paying jobs for all Minnesotans, especially people that have been under-resourced and underserved.
Do you agree that we’re facing a climate emergency? If yes, what’s the appropriate emergency-level policy response?
I absolutely agree that we are facing a climate emergency. We need immediate investment in clean and renewable energy to transition us to net zero carbon emissions by 2050. We have always treated climate change as a far-off threat, which has led to endless debate on the issue. In treating it as the emergency that it is, we cannot take time to debate and debate. We need to allocate money now, and let the experts do the work.
I support the Green New Deal that has been proposed nationally, which looks at the problem holistically and essentially says that high paying green jobs, clean air, clean water, and healthy sustainable food are basic human rights, and we need to take action to ensure that all people have those needs met. We can take the Green New Deal and adapt it in a way that works for Minnesota.
Name some specific housing policies you would push as a legislator to make Minneapolis a more affordable place to find housing.
I will work with the City of Minneapolis to implement rent stabilization, and leverage state money and resources to support them in doing so.
Can you identify anything the legislature currently gets wrong on transportation –and how you’d fix this?
The thing that the legislature gets wrong is not fully funding it, and expanding routes. I will work to ensure free access to public transportation. I will also create pathways for more effectively working with local communities, residents, and small businesses to ensure that increased infrastructure does not result in negative economic consequences.
Identify the top challenges facing schools in your area and how you’d address them.
- Bullying: creating safe spaces for students to talk about what they are going through in a culturally and demographically appropriate way. This was something my organization, Ummah Project, did with the Minneapolis schools, and it is something that the state could institute across the public school
- Cultural barriers: creating safe spaces for effective cross-cultural education. Making a concerted effort to hire teachers that are representative of the diversity of the student body
- Supporting teachers: providing increased wages for our teachers and adequate support, resources, and training to fit the needs of each individual school
- 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?
- Taxation. I have learned more and will continue to from legislators who have a greater understanding, including former 60A Rep. Diane Loeffler. For advice I turn to the House Research Department, small business owners and residents in my community, and other tax experts.
- Do you see specific opportunities for the state legislature to support the work of –or remove obstacles for — the Minneapolis City Council and Mayor?
- Housing is the biggest opportunity to work with the city. We can support the city council and the mayor by leveraging state resources to address the housing crisis. Across all issue areas, we can support each other by strengthening connections. My goal is a mutual flow of communication and resources. If I have an issue that I need city input on, I can call up the mayor and/or council members and vice versa.
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 Blue Line to Mall of America because it’s fun – you can ride with friends, see a lot of the city and then shop!
What leadership experience do you have?
- Founded and continue to serve as executive director for the Ummah Project, a nonprofit that works to empower and educate Somali youth
- Served as the vice president of the Minneapolis Neighborhood Engagement Commission
- Have been a director for local DFL party units
- Represented Minnesota at the Coalition Juvenile Justice National Conference
- Appointed to serve on the US Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC)
- Appointed by Governor Dayton to serve on the Young Women’s Initiative Council
Have you run for elected office before? Which one/s?
No, first time, but I have served on government boards as an appointee.
Do you support the Minneapolis 2040 plan?
[Click here to read answers from all district 60A candidates. The special primary election is on January 21st, 2020.]