LaDonna Redmond’s campaign is no run-of-the-mill candidacy for District 3 Hennepin County Commissioner. As Dick Gregory once said, “We need to have statements in the political arena instead of politicians.” The gender doesn’t match in this case, but the assertion certainly fits. Instead of being plugged into and obligated to the vast, cigar smoke-filled backroom, deal-making machine, Redmond’s career-long proven track record is that of a person of conscience advocating for people’s well being.
While the election is not until late this year, November 6, preparation being all, there’s no time like the present to mobilize. Redmond has already started work on a groundswell with a December “Holiday Launch Party” at Lynlake Brewery and this month’s “Meet and Greet with LaDonna” at Butter Bakery Cafe.
When her young son developed allergies to shellfish, dairy products, and peanuts, she turned to urban farming in the backyard and in vacant lots for safe food. Her decision led to raising the issue of and fighting for food justice. This included publicly pushing to see that consumers are sufficiently educated on whether legislators are safeguarding their right to know what they’re eating. Consumers needed to know just how good or bad what they ingest is for their health.
“My commitment,” says Redmond, “is to make sure communities have what they need to be able to live the complete lives they want…” Part and parcel of her campaign is her show “Lavender Plus” on KRSM Radio’s newly launched grassroots initiative “Free for All.”
Redmond has been integral in getting KRSM off the ground these past eight years. The station was specifically created to put on the airwaves voices of the under-represented. “I think it’s fantastic. I’ve always been supportive and will continue to be supportive. Every community has the intellect to heal itself.”
“The County is really an unknown governmental layer. It is a very powerful layer.”
Her motivation to campaign for a commissioner’s seat is not at all far removed from her reason to be at KRSM. It’s about empowering the institutionally disenfranchised. Hennepin County’s website attests, “[Our] mission…is to enhance the health, safety and quality of life of our residents and communities in a respectful, efficient and fiscally responsible way. We envision a future where residents are healthy and successful and where our communities are safe and vibrant.”
Not according to LaDonna Redmond, who asserts, “Minnesota has the highest number of disparities for people of color in the country.” She corrects herself: “Well, the second highest. Which…really doesn’t matter.” Wisconsin, she notes, is actually first, with Illinois right behind Minnesota at third.
“Something’s going on in the Midwest that is problematic for Black, Brown and Indigenous people.” Redmond’s watchword is equity. That’s what she intends to see realized.
“My candidacy is about equity. What I’m running…with is an equity lens. And what I hope to have as a result of winning is equity outcomes at the County level.” This level she points out, is not to be dismissed or, for that matter, taken lightly at all.
“The County is really an unknown governmental layer. It is a very powerful layer. [It] distributes $2 billion a year in funding across the system. [That layer] goes to everything from jails to the highways. So, anything in between — health care, Medicaid, transit — all those things also run through the County.
“Hennepin County’s commission has never had a person of color on its board,” Redmond continued. “Black, Brown or Indigenous. Ever. That is the kind of segregation in public policy we have to end.
“We want to know why we don’t have the things we need? It’s not because they’re bad people. It’s because they don’t have the fire in the belly to do what needs to be done to help our communities.”
She adds, “I’m just one of many people who [want to] make sure our communities get everything they deserve so they can live the lives they want.”
It’s a sad irony that voter turnout tends to be lowest among the populace that most needs to benefit from political and thereby social change. LaDonna Redmond hopes to see those “many people” like herself get behind her candidacy and push to improve the public well-being.
For more information, go to www.facebook.com/Vote4LaDonna.
Dwight Hobbes welcomes readers’ responses to P.O. Box 50357, Minneapolis, MN 55403
A previous version of this story mistakenly quoted LaDonna Redmond’s reference to Hennepin County’s budget as “million” instead of “billion.” The story has been updated; We apologize for the error.