A group of Minneapolis residents and organizational representatives gathered last week to encourage voters to reject one ballot measure and support two others in the November local election. Focused on creating a city that is more equitable and serving all residents, the group spoke in front of the Minneapolis Elections & Voter Services to encourage voters to reject one ballot measure and support two others.
Every speaker present stressed residents vote no on a measure that would give the mayor more power than the city council. According to an explainer from Minnesota Public Radio, the strong-mayor measure would expand the mayor’s authority over city agencies. Currently, chartered agencies except for the police department are controlled by the city council.
The other two measures would expand opportunities for stable housing options and provide a new pathway for public safety in a city that kicked off a long summer of racial justice protests and demands of police accountability. Local elections are the basic building block of democracy, with residents having an opportunity to impact legislation that will impact their lives directly.
Brian Fullman, lead organizer with the Barbershop and Black Congregation Cooperative, said the coalition did not believe in consolidated power. He said the group gathered for the press conference was representative of Minneapolis.
“We believe in power that’s distributed evenly amongst us,” Fullman said. “We have three amendments that we are desperately asking our people to go and actually vote on. No, yes, yes. Because we do not believe in consolidated power.”
The Barbershop and Black Congregation Cooperative is a group of Black barbers, beauticians, and owners committed to leveraging their spaces to further the interests and issues of the communities they serve. Fullman further explained why the collective was calling for a vote on each of the ballot measures.
“We say no to the mayoral control because we believe we need a system and operation that’s transparent,” Fullman explained. “That’s accountable, that’s forthcoming, and is intentional about preserving the dignity and respect of our people we say yes to public safety. Because we understand that in the state of Minnesota, specifically, it’s cold nine months out of the year, people need to be able to afford somewhere to stay. And it’s sustainable. We say yes to rent stabilization.”
As previously reported by NewsOne, Frey opposes the public safety measure. Some organizers have alleged that special interests in an unelected charter commission have tried to tip the scale in favor of the mayor instead of what is in the best interest of the residents.
Proponents of the proposed public safety charter argue that undoing a fifty-year-old charter amendment would correct the history of systemic racism and brutality from the city’s police department.
State Rep. Jim Davnie pointed out the importance of a strong local democracy. “A strong local democracy in Minneapolis means the voices of constituents around the city are heard and valued equally,” Davnie said. “As I’ve listened intently to my neighbors and to voices of Minneapolis residents across the city, I actually believe there’s a strong consensus that understands that the way we police Minneapolis today doesn’t work for the people of Minneapolis. I believe there’s a strong consensus amongst my neighbors that we need to have change in public safety in Minneapolis.”
Community members wanting to get involved or pick up a canvassing shift can sign up for more information.
Watch the full press conference below: