Catch up with our council members: December 2018

Minneapolis City Council members Phillipe Cunningham (Ward 4) and Jeremiah Ellison (Ward 5) were inaugurated in January 2018. North News has invited them to keep in touch with the community through this monthly column in our newspaper.

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Wow! It’s already been a year since I had the tremendous blessing of being sworn in as the Ward 4 Councilmember! I went into this first year elected on a platform and vision of transformational community wealth building in our community. A lot of time this year has been invested in translating this platform and vision into strong local government policy and financial investments and continuously gathering feedback to fine tune the Ward 4 Action Plan, my directive from the residents of Ward 4. Significant time was also invested in building strong relationships inside and outside of City Hall. Throughout this first year of this term, the Ward 4 Office and community worked hard to make big change together. 

We established a solid foundation for continued engagement. Being accessible is a value of mine. As such, I host two weekly community office hours at local coffee shops. There are quarterly convenings to update you on the Ward 4 Action plan, the progress towards the plan’s goals, and gather feedback. Additionally, we host monthly Coffee with Cunningham event for us to dig deeper into issues in our community, how the City impacts those issues, and work toward solutions together. 

We passed several ordinances this year and impacted how the City of Minneapolis operates, such as revitalizing and creating systems change for Conduct on Licensed Premises and the creation and funding of a new Office of Violence Prevention. The 2019 City Budget passed and included the Fletcher-Cunningham Omnibus Amendment that invested $1.1M in public safety prevention and intervention strategies that are working in our community like Group Violence Intervention and domestic violence outreach. Finally, I led amendments to the Minneapolis 2040 Comp Plan that set the goal of eliminating racial disparities so all communities can thrive and created a Northside policy to ensure the City prioritizes community wealth building in North Minneapolis. 

Moving into 2019, our work will include the creation of an Upper Harbor Terminal community advisory committee and a new youth development fund, improved quality of rental housing, wage theft protections, more equitable property/special assessments, and a lot more.

Thank you for your trust in my leadership! Thank you for being committed and engaged! Thank you for making the Northside a vibrant community that is filled with compassion, activism, and positive energy! I am both proud and humbled to represent you, all of you. 

Stay tuned because the 2019 State of the 4th Ward address date will be released soon, which will feature more details on how the work from this year will impact our community and what’s next for 2019!

Have the happiest of holidays, Northsiders!

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My first year representing the people of Ward 5 has wrapped up, and I couldn’t be prouder of the work my team and I have done. I will eventually go down the laundry list of things we got done (or are moving in the right direction) but first, I wanted to take some time to say thank you. Growing up on the Northside, I never put much thought to how a neighborhood gets formed. As a kid, I simply knew to run to North Commons to go to play football; to walk over to JXTA to paint and draw; to go with my family to Lucille’s or Broadway Pizza. I didn’t see my neighborhood in terms of its borders, its designated land-uses, or zoning restrictions. I saw people that cared about their neighborhood and people trying to make a living, and I’m proud to say that’s still what I see today. So, thank you—for being my neighbor; for making our Northside your home; for being a community. This first year has humbled me, and has motivated me even more to continue improving as your representative.

We just wrapped up the budgeting process, and I think it’s important to highlight some things I believe will really benefit Ward 5. First, I want to highlight our housing priorities. We’ve heard a lot about the $40 million going into the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which will help generate and preserve the affordable units that Minneapolis so desperately needs, but a lot more goes into creating stable homes for people. In this year’s budget, the Council President Lisa Bender and I also secured an additional $500K for legal representation for tenants facing eviction, as well as an additional $2 million for a revolving repair fund for rental units falling into disrepair—both budget items will go a long way in preventing displacement for vulnerable tenants.

Unrelated to housing, but absolutely no less important, is the historic $500 thousand for Village Trust Financial Cooperative (VTFC)—a black owned credit union. If you haven’t heard of Village Trust, it’s time you looked into them. Being iced out of access to capital—or competent and fair banking—is one of the many ways black communities have been denied the ability to build wealth. By investing in growing, black-led institutions like Village Trust, the city is being forced to put its money where its mouth is with regards to our commitment to racial equity. But it’s by no means enough. As we celebrated our investment in VTFC, let’s remember to push for more and find more ways for the city to repair past disinvestments.

I’m running out of space and have much more to say, but I’ll leave you with this—as we head into next year, our work on the Renters’ Bill of Rights, Cultural Corridors, Right of First Refusal, Intentional Communities, and much more, is well on its way. If you want to know more about what I’m working on, and—more importantly—if you want to help me shape my priorities moving forward, please reach out to my office. I’m proud to be your representative—I’m proud to work for the people of Ward 5. And as always, please feel free reach out to my office at 612-673-2205 or email me at ward5@minneapolismn.gov.




Kenzie O'Keefe