Why Do I Travel? For Minneapolis

As Mayor, I travel on behalf of Minneapolis. I travel to build relationships, raise Minneapolis’ profile nationally and internationally, and to bring resources home for our city and our people. Right now in America cities are places where good, progressive, nimble work is happening on crucial issues like racial equity and climate change. Leaders like President Obama and Pope Francis are turning to mayors as partners to advance agendas they cannot execute at the national or international level. Foundations and other funders are eager to invest in cities because they see progress on their priorities. This has created unprecedented opportunities for mayors and our cities, and I have traveled to take advantage of those opportunities.

And it has worked. As a result of my travel I can already point to over $7.2 million of new investment in the city and our inclusion in several programs that will help us keep Minneapolis moving forward. We are receiving federal grants to help remove lead from our homes, helping our low-income citizens get access to better food, and equipping our police with body cameras. We are receiving a $2.7 million grant that will help ensure our city is delivering services equitably. We are one of six cities participating in the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice. We have been designated by the White House as Climate Action Champions. We are participating in the TechHire initiative to help our people, especially women and people of color, get training that will connect them higher-paying jobs in the technology sector. We received a Promise Zone designation in North Minneapolis, which includes preference points for federal grants that affect the Zone.

Of course, the work of many people goes into securing new investments in the City. I am not the only leader building relationships and doing strong work. There are many factors at play. However, as the Mayor, I am the Chief Ambassador for Minneapolis. My travel, the meetings I have on behalf of the City, and the relationships I build are key factors to our success.

Here’s an illustration of how this works:

  • In January of 2014, I went to the US Conference of Mayors meeting in Washington, DC. There, I met with members of President Obama’s cabinet and his intergovernmental staff.
  • When it came time for the President to designate cities as Climate Action Champs, the White House knew how they had a partner in the Mayor’s office. They knew how committed Minneapolis is to a sustainable future and a healthy climate.
  • Because Minneapolis won that designation, I came to the attention of the Vatican. The Pope was hosting a conference in Rome on climate change and human trafficking and was selecting 60 mayors worldwide – only 9 from the US and only one from the Midwest – to attend.
  • At that conference, I built a network of other mayors and organizations all around the world with which I can share best practices and have negotiated shared goals. I met representatives from major foundations and non-profits who now know me and the work we are doing Minneapolis.
  • When I returned to the US Conference of Mayors a few weeks ago, I was able to have one-on-one meetings with one of those foundations, which is now considering a significant investment in our work on climate issues.

When I travel, I am often working twelve hours or more each day. When I return, I often step off of an airplane directly into meetings back here at City Hall. I have chosen to take time away from my family and do these things because part of my job is bringing resources and recognition to the best city on earth.

Much of my travel has been paid for by others. Costs have been covered by people who asked me to speak at conferences, and by foundations and organizations who have offered fellowships for skill-building and who want mayors to attend their events.

Last fall, I made a decision to focus less on travel in 2016. Over the last two years I have established invaluable relationships and brought home the bacon. Now is the time to make sure the projects we have built and those resources coming back home have the most positive possible impact on the lives of Minneapolitans and the profile of our city.

I will still travel, of course. I remain the Chief Ambassador. I have obligations to fulfill on behalf of the city as the recipient of various grants, programs, and technical assistance. And where there are strong opportunities for important partnerships or to bring our federal tax dollars back home, I will take them. But it will be less.

So here are the stats so far:

Since being sworn is as Mayor on January 2nd, 2014, I have spent 58 full weekdays and fifteen half days traveling on behalf of the City of Minneapolis. That means nearly $110,000 returning to Minneapolis for each full day I have traveled over the last two years.

I am proud of the good work I’ve done for Minneapolis through my travel, and I look forward to reaping even more of the benefits of that work moving forward.

A Message from the Community to End the Occupation

Below is a letter by a community coalition, including myself and Congressman Ellison, calling for an end to the occupation of the 4th precinct. A full list of signers is at the very bottom.

For two weeks, we have shared the sadness of many in Minneapolis who have been grieving. Throughout this time, we have held two values paramount: the safety of everyone in our city, and the need for racial equity.

We will continue to hold these values paramount and urgent as we call today for an end to the occupation in front of the Fourth Precinct headquarters on Plymouth Avenue, and for the protest to move to the next phase. In so doing, we join our voices to those of Representative Keith Ellison, the Urban League, neighborhood residents, and the family of Jamar Clark, among many others.


We have been concerned about safety of everyone — protesters, neighborhood residents, police officers, and bystanders — since the current situation at the Fourth Precinct began.

Chief among our concerns is the presence of open fires and uncontrolled heat sources. In the interest of safety for demonstrators, neighbors, and the general public, it is vital that these open fires be extinguished immediately. It is a sad, known fact that air quality in North Minneapolis is among the poorest in Minnesota, and that children in North Minneapolis already suffer from the highest rates of asthma in our city. It is another mark of the racial disparities that plague our city and our neighborhood. The presence for two weeks of open fires has caused the air quality in North Minneapolis to deteriorate even further. We are particularly concerned about the health effects of the fires on the elders and children who live nearby and in our neighborhood. And with the colder weather, more fires have appeared.

Neighbors have also lodged numerous complaints about the fires: they have expressed concerns about the height of fires, embers blowing into yards and onto structures, and proximity to gas lines, among others. The Minneapolis Fire Department shares their concerns, and has also witnessed ashes from the fires being disposed of in the sewer. Any open, non-permitted fire in our city should be a source of concern to us all.

We are also alarmed that Plymouth Avenue has been barricaded, impeding access to emergency vehicles and snow plows. Given the number of elders who live there who often require emergency care, and the fact that we are expecting a large amount of snow in the next two days, the barricades must be removed immediately.

We have other concerns as well.

  • There has been gun violence in the surrounding area. Beyond the reprehensible shootings of last Monday night, there have been shots fired in the neighborhood on subsequent nights.
  • The crowds blocking Plymouth Avenue and access to the precinct have caused emergency vehicles and first responders to be redirected, which leads to delays in responding to real, urgent needs of residents and protesters.
  • We have been dismayed at false medical calls for help. These false calls put in danger anyone who calls when there is a real emergency, be they residents or protesters — not to mention first responders themselves.
  • Sadly, the continued presence at the Fourth Precinct has attracted people from outside our neighborhood and our city who intend to cause harm, people with violent agendas that are not aligned with peaceful protesters. Some of them launched Molotov cocktails at the precinct, and other Molotov cocktails were discovered before they were launched. Extensive property damage has been caused to Fourth Precinct property and vehicles. In addition, the situation has attracted known gang members and others known for criminal behavior.
  • We deplore near-daily threats to burn down the precinct and kill or harm officers. These threats put our residents, peaceful protesters, and our entire neighborhood at risk.

Given then many safety concerns that persist at the Fourth Precinct, it is clear to us that the safest path forward for everyone — protesters, residents, officers, and our entire neighborhood and city — is for the encampment to end. It will also lead further down the path to equity.

Racial equity

The need for equity in Minneapolis remains urgent and paramount. In response to the shooting of Jamar Clark, many wins have already been attained.

  • An independent, state, criminal investigation was launched within hours.
  • An independent, federal, civil-rights investigation was launched within two days, at Mayor Betsy Hodges’ request. The Assistant U.S. Attorney General personally assured protest leaders that this investigation will be fair and thorough.
  • The names and service records of the officers involved in the shooting were released within days.
  • Protesters asked for and received support for free, culturally-appropriate grief counseling for Mr. Clark’s family and themselves.
  • Governor Mark Dayton reiterated his call for a special session of the Minnesota Legislature to address racial disparities in North Minneapolis and elsewhere in Minnesota.
  • Governor Dayton called on federal officials to investigate any matters that occurred in Minneapolis during the first week of the protest that may have violate the civil rights of any Minnesota citizens.

While the road to resolution of the shooting of Jamar Clark will be long, we believe that these are important wins that were quickly won.

More broadly, and no less urgently, we must continue to reduce and eliminate the many racial disparities that plague African Americans and people of color in our city in almost every measure — health, wealth, education, employment, and certainly criminal justice, among others. The work requires the honesty to admit what has not worked, the resolve to look racism in the face, and the will to change course. And it will continue to require willing partners at every level: community, government, philanthropy, education, nonprofit, and others.

Many of these partners have made concrete recommendations over many years to address the urgent need to eliminate racial disparities in Minneapolis, and their concerns have taken on heightened importance in the last two weeks. At the level of city government, we are satisfied that Mayor Hodges has heard these concerns and policy recommendations. She has pledged to us, and we to her, to work together and with community on a detailed response shortly. We know that Governor Dayton and Representative Ellison take these concerns seriously at the state and federal levels as well.

In the current situation, our sense of urgency about both equity and safety for everyone is acute. We believe that the need to keep everyone safe at the Fourth Precinct — protesters, residents, officers, and bystanders — and the need to take the protest and our quest for equity to the next level are both served by ending the occupation at the Fourth Precinct immediately.

Signed by:

  • Alfred Babington-Johnson
  • Steve Belton, Interim President and CEO, Minneapolis Urban League
  • Tawanna A. Black
  • Jackie Cherryhomes, former Minneapolis City Council President and 5th Ward resident
  • Gary Cunningham, President and CEO, Meda and Council Member, District 7, Metropolitan Council
  • United States Representative Keith Ellison
  • Jeffrey Hassan, Executive Director, African American Leadership Forum
  • Betsy Hodges, Mayor, City of Minneapolis
  • Barbara Johnson, City Council President and City Council Member, 4th Ward, City of Minneapolis
  • Jerry McAfee, New Salem Baptist Church
  • Cora McCorvey, Executive Director/CEO, Minneapolis Public Housing Authority
  • Jonathan Palmer, Executive Director, Hallie Q. Brown Community Center and Chair, Cleveland Neighborhood Association Board
  • Trahern Pollard, community activist
  • Billy G. Russell, Greater Friendship Missionary Baptist Church
  • Don Samuels, Director, Board of Education, Minneapolis Public Schools and former Minneapolis City Council Member, 5th Ward
  • Sondra Samuels, President and CEO, Northside Achievement Zone
  • Clayton Tyler, Chair, Board of Commissioners, Minneapolis Public Housing Authority and 5th Ward resident
  • Blong Yang, City Council Member, 5th Ward, City of Minneapolis
  • Yvonne Cheek, Millennium Consulting Group
  • Bishop Richard D. Howell, Jr. Shiloh Temple International Ministries
  • Kevin Lindsey, Commissioner, Minnesota Department of Human Rights
  • Sharon Sayles Belton, Former Mayor, City of Minneapolis, former City Council President, former 8th Ward Council Member

Tonight’s Protests

I understand that emotions are running high in the community and across the City. I share many of the emotions that people are feeling in Minneapolis today. I firmly believe in everyone’s right to protest and understand that people want to have places where they can gather and do that peacefully. We also want to ensure everyone’s safety. Chief Harteau and I are asking officers to exercise maximum restraint, and are asking protesters to act peacefully. I thank the many officers and protesters who are doing just that.


The tears kept coming on Friday, June 26th. (My staff can attest, there was dancing too.) Joyful tears at the knowledge that the freedom to marry—the ability to legally commit to care for and love someone for a lifetime—was now accessible to every American, no matter where they live or who they love. Sorrowful tears for all those who came before us and fought this fight never to see its victory.  And then there were the “I just can’t believe we freaking did this” tears.

It was a day that forever changed the course of our nation’s history. It was a day I will never forget.

Minneapolis was electric, charged with people’s energy. The exaltation, relief, and optimism for the future hung in the air like the humidity that descended on our city. Nowhere was that energy more palpable than at the Pride Festival in Loring Park.

And with this energy Minneapolis created something beautiful.

A poem arrived in my inbox a few weeks after the last of the rainbow streamers had been swept away, and I want to share it all with you.

John Medeiros, a writer and immigration lawyer in the Twin Cities, has been co-curating Queer Voices, a reading series featuring LGBT writers, for the last decade. (It’s the longest running series of its kind in the country; how Minneapolis is that.) John and his co-curator Andrea Jenkins wanted to do something memorable and artistic, of course, to honor the series’ 10th anniversary. Poems! That was their first idea. And they did just that, handing out close to 2,500 during the festivities. But they wanted more. Something memorable. Something creative.

John and Andrea wanted to capture the community’s artistic response to the Supreme Court’s ruling that marriage is a fundamental right for all Americans. “we” is a poem that does just that.

People contributed in a manner of ways, some adding full lines, others a word or image. After the festival John edited (minimally) the poem for flow. Some lines are a culmination of multiple people’s additions to the poem.

To every passerby who stopped at the Intermedia Arts tent, I thank you. I thank you for your verses, your standalone words, your images. I thank you, John for pulling it altogether and yet leaving it virtually untouched.

The people of Minneapolis created something awesome—in the truest sense of the word.

Without further ado, here is “we”, curated by John Medeiros, written by the people of Minneapolis.


(a community art project sponsored by IntermediaArts and written by the community during the Twin Cities Pride Festival, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the recognition of same-sex marriage is a fundamental right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution)

we shine

                like the night

                stars dancing in a crazy wind

we shine at the beach

                and sing in one voice, ticking like a joyous metronome

we glisten

                like a thousand divas

                laughing loudly

                loving forever

                moving forward in vociferous vibration.

we love

                fully willing

                to turn back time and do it all again.

we sing like Miriam at the Red Sea

                celebrating our international friendships

                hanging out and sharing hugs

                družim in delitev objemov.

we sing for our children and their friends

                for David (lost and sadly missed)

                for sunny days and summer skies

                for a nation as it celebrates love.

we sing so we have music to dance to.

and faces surround us –

                faces of joy and inclusion

                beaming like little lights of the world

                as fear and hatred dim and flicker and fade

we are one

                a myriad of volatile voices

                speaking in harmony

                sprouting like young green leaves

                all around us.

there is thrill in completion

                in having come this far after walking for so long

                our steps, heavy and weary.

but here we are

                a community glowing, surrounded by affection,

                strong and beautiful and authentic

                in our gender

                and in our love.

there are flags and kites and feathers

                of future generations

                majestic in their colors

                majestic in their flight

floating in unison

                as minds and hearts open

                and love (equally)

                our brothers and sisters

                in this, our Garden of Eden.

we say yes to love,

                yes to always

                yes to unity and acceptance

                and, after long last,

                to loving openly.

we say no

                to shame we don’t deserve.

like Vonnegut we hate this war

                – this fight against oppressive swords.

                yes, the battle was necessary

                to honor those who came before

                and those who have yet to come.

our guide is this brilliant sun

                a sun of intuition

                reflecting blues and greens pride of years long past,

                reflecting back to the grass where love first started,

                where love took root and grew as roots so often do.

our guides are those heroes who taught us

                to love who we are

                to fight with the strength of a diseased tree

                to stand against hatred and injustice

                and to remember where we came from.

love is always the answer, says the Court

                let her in. let her in now.

                love is the answer.  the answer is love.

and now we can find comfort in our own skin

                and not hide our love within

                and like roses we grow

                graceful despite our thorns.

in the end we are a proud

                rainbow of traditions and colors –

                a community that has learned to love

                in the midst of hate.

                faith is our pride.

we have learned to love a queer love

                an awesome, beautiful, powerful, political,

                strong, unique, colorful, big, bold, queer love

                that, when tossed away by others,

                like a boomerang always manages to come back.

and who expected this sun to shine?

                who expected love to flow,

                hugs to abound

                and kisses to flow without fear?

who expected us to be here

                brilliant as the first sun just after the first rain?

who knew we would win 5 to 4?

who knew ours would be a rapid flight,

                that feathery clouds would take wing,

                that the Court would spawn such inspiration and passion and love?

who knew freedom would taste like this?

that our bellies would expand so with such joy?

that fifty states would now be mandated

                to recognize love equally.

we shine despite the darkness

we sing despite the silence

we love despite the hatred

because love wins.

it is so ordered.

                thus sayeth the Court.


©2015, IntermediaArts


No need for a public subsidy

When I was in high school 30 years ago, I had season tickets to the Minnesota Strikers soccer team of the Major Indoor Soccer League. My mother lettered in soccer at her high school back in the 1950s. Growing up in our house, soccer was a beloved sport long before the rest of the country caught on to it.

I love soccer.

So I was very disappointed yesterday to learn, along with the rest of Minnesota, that the McGuire investment group is seeking a public subsidy from both the City and the State for their new soccer stadium. Their request for a subsidy directly contradicts their claim that their facility will be privately financed.

There is no need for a subsidy for this facility, or this ownership group, whatsoever. The subsidy they are requesting will have a direct and negative impact on the taxpayers of Minneapolis.

First, the McGuire group is asking to avoid paying their fair share of property taxes — not just for a limited term of time, but forever.

The land where the MN United ownership group proposes to build the stadium is currently privately owned, so it currently pays property taxes that would disappear if the soccer stadium were exempted from taxes. Beyond that, given this land’s location on the growing edge of our booming downtown, and its proximity to the upcoming $1.6-billion public investment in Southwest light rail, there is no question that this property will be redeveloped, stadium or no stadium. A truly private development would pay property taxes there; but if a tax-exempt stadium is built there, Minneapolis taxpayers would forego millions of dollars of value on the property-tax rolls.

The argument that property taxes have been abated for other stadiums just like this one is a false one, because every other sports facility in the region has some component of public ownership. However, the ownership group said Tuesday that the soccer stadium would be privately owned and operated. This stadium is not like other stadiums: rather, this proposal is as if a private developer asked to pay no taxes — ever — on a $150-million mixed-use development in downtown Minneapolis.

There is no precedent in Minnesota for a private development’s being exempted from paying their fair share of property taxes in perpetuity. None. If this subsidy were granted, other Minneapolis homeowners and business owners would pick up the property-tax tab for a private development that will prove hugely profitable for the owners.

Second, the McGuire proposal would create a new facility that directly competes with the Target Center, a taxpayer-owned City facility. The proposed new soccer stadium is about the same size as Target Center and shares all the proximity to downtown and transit, with the advantage of being outdoors and being new. We are currently, and wisely, investing $130 million to renovate Target Center and keep it competitive for the next several decades. Why would we turn around and give away taxpayers’ dollars to compete with ourselves?

Let me be clear: I would be pleased to see a new, truly privately-financed soccer stadium at this site. A truly privately-financed stadium would pay property taxes. Those new property-tax dollars could make up for any impacts to Target Center and the City budget.

This request for a public subsidy ignores that the public has already made significant investments that will benefit the proposed soccer stadium, in the form of the $1.6-billion Southwest light rail line that includes a station at the stadium’s front door. Moreover, the proposed Bottineau LRT line will have connecting service just one station away.

And let’s also remember that the public has already financed two soccer-ready stadiums in Minnesota: the new indoor Vikings stadium is built for soccer, and the outdoor TCF Bank Stadium at the University of Minnesota has already hosted professional soccer matches. A third, truly privately-financed soccer stadium may be welcome; but we do not need a third, publicly-subsidized one.

The McGuire group has failed to demonstrate any need whatsoever for a public subsidy. Even if they choose to build a third soccer stadium, the ability of these owners to pay their own way is obvious: this remarkably high-powered ownership group, perhaps the largest ever assembled in Minnesota, can easily pay for their facility without any public assistance.

As a lifelong soccer fan, I am excited that Major League Soccer is choosing to expand in Minneapolis, and I know that my excitement is shared by thousands of fans for whom soccer has great, unique appeal. But as Mayor of Minneapolis, it’s my job to put the public’s interests ahead of private wants.

We can’t do this without you, Minneapolis: My State of the City address

We have the strength we need to address our biggest challenges: climate change, workforce, public safety, community trust, equity, to name some of them. To meet those challenges successfully, we are going to need our greatest strength: our people and every bit of talent and every ounce of genius we have got. All of that genius is right here, ready to build our economic future, and our city’s future. The question before us is: how much of that genius are we going to leave on the table?

This is the question I posed in the speech I delivered last Thursday in my State of the City address at the American Swedish Institute. You can watch the speech here.

Young people

We need each one of us, including our young people.

My Cradle to K Cabinet is moving into implementation mode, to make sure that every bit of talent and genius our community has to offer is nurtured, starting at the very beginning of life. Our final recommendations will be ready in mid-May. The whole community will be invited to do whatever each of us can do to make a difference for our youngest kids.

The welfare of boys and young men of color is also crucial to the future of our society. With the President’s My Brothers’ Keeper Community Challenge, we are focusing on improving outcomes for 18- to 24-year old men of color.

Too often our stories show the worst rather than the best in our young men. We hear a lot of stories about young men who are behaving poorly, young men who commit crimes. What we don’t hear are the success stories.

I invite you to share your stories of success of young men and boys of color on my website, so we can be reminded how much genius is carried in every single brain, how much passion and compassion is in every single heart, how much possibility there is in every single life.

Graduation coaches

We can all ensure our young people are ready to lead by making a personal commitment to help kids succeed. Please consider being a graduation coach to mentor a Minneapolis public high school student through Achieve Minneapolis.

Each one of us has a gift to offer the next generation, and today is a call to you to use your gift. If Cradle to K is about making sure we are nurturing our genius even before early education starts, graduation coaching is about believing no genius should be left on the table as a young person takes her first steps out of her high school’s doors.

Minneapolis Working Families Agenda

We don’t just need to build the workforce of the future, we need to build the workplace of the future. The expectation that if you worked hard you could get ahead is now more myth than reality for low-income people and many people of color. Even in Minneapolis, where we are famous for our class mobility, the mobility becomes very limited when we start looking at outcomes for people of color.

The growing income inequality in our economy has devastating economic effects, and devastating social and moral effects as well. It hurts all of us, no matter our income, gender, or race.

I am proud to announce that I, in cooperation with Council Members, advocates, and the business community, am championing a Minneapolis Working Families Agenda. Together, we will address three key issues that our workers are facing, especially our low-income workers: fair scheduling, wage theft, and earned sick and safe leave.

Minneapolis: Business Made Simple

Sometimes getting our genius to the table means getting out of our own way.

Last year in the State of the City address, I announced Minneapolis: Business Made Simple, a project to examine all the places where we as a city get in the way of people investing in Minneapolis. After talking with business owners and reviewing our policies, practices and ordinances, we have created a set of recommendations for how we as a city can change how we do our business that will make it easier for entrepreneurs to do their business. We are now ready to move ahead with implementing these recommendations.

Minneapolis Climate Champs Challenge

Each one of us can do something here to stop the progress of climate change. Each one of us has a gift to offer the process. Each one of us has something we can do, that we choose to do, to make sure we have a healthy planet and healthy people.

I invite each of you to join me in the Minneapolis Climate Champs Challenge. Each month I will take on the challenge of new behaviors and habits. Learn more and participate in the challenges at the Facebook page: Minneapolis Climate Champs Challenge.

Zero-Waste Minneapolis Policy Workgroup

I am excited to announce that the process for creating the city’s zero waste plan is underway. Council Members Kevin Reich, Cam Gordon, Linea Palmisano, Alondra Cano, and I convened the Policy Work Group in March to kick off a year-long planning process to move Minneapolis toward zero waste. Our goal is to come up with a plan that will help everyone who lives and works in Minneapolis recycle more and throw away less.


Our common future depends on our ability to sustain a strong economy and strong community. Our common future depends on having a population that is healthy, housed, educated, and contributing to the economy. Our common future depends on no life outcomes being determined by race, class, or zip code. Our common future depends on all of our genius being on the table.

Because we can’t do this without you, Minneapolis. Everyone must be in this picture or we will not be One Minneapolis.

Knowing that, the answer to today’s question is an easy one for all of us. How much genius do we want to leave on the table? How much are we willing to sacrifice our future prosperity because we struggle to muster the courage to head into a future that is thus far uncharted? None. None at all.


Minneapolis needs strong working families

In the week or so since the Star Tribune reported my thoughts about the best path forward for a minimum-wage increase, some people have respectfully asked for more information about where I stand on support for working families. I am happy to provide that here.

Wages in the American economy for low-income and middle-class workers and families have stagnated in the last 40 years. The gap between low- and middle-income workers on the one hand, and the highest-paid people on the other, is the widest it’s been in nearly a century. In our region, people of color and women disproportionately suffer the consequences of such inequality. That shameful gap, unfortunately, continues to widen as family-supporting jobs are harder and harder to come by. This structural income inequality has devastating economic effects, and devastating social and moral effects as well. It hurts all of us, no matter our income, gender or race.

For these and other reasons, I support higher wages for low- and middle-income families generally, and I support increasing minimum wages. I was part of the broad coalition at the State Capitol last year in the fight for the minimum-wage victory here in Minnesota. I have stood with fast-food workers in Minneapolis to support industry-wide minimum-wage increases in that sector. For the good of our economy and the good of all of us, the minimum wage in our country and our state should be higher. 

In the bigger picture, I strongly support reviving collective bargaining in the private sector overall. It’s a key part of our collective future prosperity. Our country’s 30-year, post-war economic boom was built on the foundation of strong unions, and our economic stagnation since then is due in large part to the weakening of collective bargaining in the private sector.

Collective bargaining and broad-based minimum-wage increases are two powerful tools to support and elevate working families. There are many potential tools in our tool belts that could make a big difference for working people: I am weighing all of those policy choices so that we have the best outcomes possible in Minneapolis for low-wage workers and their families.

In addition to the urgent need for state and federal action to raise the minimum wage, I believe we can explore a regional approach to raising it. Such an approach might fit our region and our families well.

I have also studied work other cities have done and are doing on municipal minimum-wage increases. Comparatively, Minneapolis alone doesn’t dominate our region the way Seattle, Chicago and New York dominate theirs. We are also unique among metro regions in having two core cities, not one, and suburbs that are home to significant numbers of minimum-wage jobs as well: Saint Paul and Bloomington are rich in the kind of jobs and businesses that would be affected by an increase. I believe Minneapolis’ going alone on a minimum-wage increase in this environment doesn’t make strategic sense for the long-term health and prosperity of the city.

I am also concerned in this context about two harmful proposals at the State Legislature. One bill would roll back last year’s statewide minimum-wage success by instituting a tip credit, which is nothing more than a loophole that would create two classes of low-wage workers. Unfortunately, Seattle took this approach to its minimum wage. This regressive policy has no place in our state and should not be part of any minimum-wage proposal. 

Second, another bill would ban any city not only from raising its own minimum wage, but from requiring paid sick time. In this context, it is unwise to pursue a one-city, go-it-alone strategy, because it would create a target for legislators who are hostile to minimum-wage increases to pass laws to preclude them altogether at the local level.

I support a wide array of policies that would support and uplift working people and working families. I support minimum-wage increases as one of those policies. I was proud of us as a state last year when we made it a priority to increase the minimum wage, with indexing, and I know the good it is already doing for everyone in Minnesota. I also believe an innovative regional approach to the minimum wage may be promising. I am proud to be part of the broad conversation in Minneapolis about how to best support working families to build wealth and how best to support low-income workers improve their lives. I have been and continue to be engaged in that conversation and, along with others, am weighing the best policy options moving forward. There is a lot we can do and will do to ensure that all of Minneapolis can participate in and benefit from our growth and prosperity. Together we can find that path forward.