Andrea Jenkins is the incumbent candidate running in Minneapolis’s City Council Ward 8 race to keep her seat as Minneapolis City Council President.
How did you get into politics?
Jenkins originally got into politics in her hometown of Chicago when she worked on the campaign of Chicago’s first Black mayor, Harold Washington.
In Minneapolis, Jenkins was a policy aide for former Ward 8 city councilmember Robert Lilligren when he was still in office. She then worked for Lilligren’s successor, Elizabeth Glidden. Glidden decided not to run for re-election in 2017, and Jenkins ran for her seat.
“In 2017, there was an open seat in a ward that I knew deeply and intimately because I had been working on almost every major project in this ward for the past 20 years,” Jenkins said.
Her initial campaign was shortly after Donald Trump was elected president. Jenkins, who is a Democrat, says she viewed getting elected at a local level as a good way to fight Trump’s influence.
In what ways are you involved with the community in Ward 8?
Jenkins’ involvement with the community stretches back decades. She says the first community board she served on was in the 1990s at District 202, an LGBTQ+ youth center that is now defunct. Jenkins served on District 202’s board for six years and worked as a volunteer for another five. Jenkins also worked for Hennepin County as a vocational counselor for over a decade, helping people in need find jobs.
Jenkins has served as a board member at the PFund Foundation, Forecast Public Arts, the Bryant neighborhood board and the Powderhorn Park neighborhood board. She was the board chair of both Lake Street Partners and Intermedia Arts. Jenkins has also been a grant reviewer for the Minnesota Department of Health and the Minnesota Regional Arts Commission.
What is the key difference between you and your main opponent, Soren Stevenson?
Jenkins says the key difference between her and Stevenson is political experience and lived experience. In terms of political experience, Jenkins said Stevenson could not have the same amount of experience as her due to him being younger.
For lived experience, Jenkins spoke on her experience growing up in a poor Black family. “I have experienced chemical dependency in my family,” Jenkins said.
“I’ve experienced mass incarceration in my family. My little brother died in Minneapolis police custody. The issues that impact Black and Brown people, this is not something I’ve read about, that I learned about when George Floyd got murdered. This is my everyday lived experience.”
What issues are most important to you?
Jenkins said her most important issues are affordable housing, public safety, and climate change.
To address a lack of affordable housing, Jenkins plans to support the development of public housing. Jenkins emphasized that equity must be “baked in” to all approaches and wants to give more support to women and BIPOC developers.
Jenkins said that the number one issue in public safety is to have accountability in the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD), acknowledging that accountability at MPD is currently “lacking.” She believes that community trust will need to be rebuilt.
She pointed towards two consent decrees, one from the Minnesota Department of Human Rights and the other from the Department of Justice, along with the appointment of MPD Chief Brian O’Hara, as moves in the right direction to build trust.
In terms of a public safety plan, Jenkins wants to bring together Minneapolis’s police, fire, 911, emergency management, the behavioral crisis team, and the office of neighborhood services into a comprehensive public safety service.
Jenkins referred to climate change as “the most pernicious and challenging issue facing the whole world.” Jenkins wants to prioritize racial equity for climate change issues and says that solutions should be specifically targeted toward Black and Brown communities that have traditionally been harmed the most by environmental inequity.
“In regards to climate change, it’s about environmental justice and making sure that we are not doing harm to the community, that we are cleaning up the communities to be able to address climate change in an equitable way,” Jenkins said.
What is your plan for the economic development of George Floyd Square?
Jenkins referenced her ongoing 38th Street Thrive strategic development plan to create housing opportunities and economic development, especially for Black- and Brown-owned businesses in the community.
The plan also includes rebuilding the streets at George Floyd Square (GFS) to accommodate a worldwide memorial for George Floyd and other victims of police violence. Jenkins says GFS needs to become a national symbol for social justice and racial justice and healing.
Jenkins says it is challenging work to balance the many different desires people have for the community around 38th and Chicago, but that she has had several successes in promoting development around GFS, such as helping the businesses in the neighborhood get grant money.
“Some people want [GFS] untouched. Some people want it completely back to the way it was,” Jenkins said. “I am trying to find a middle pathway that serves our community, but that also serves the needs of social and racial justice.”
Why are you the best fit for Ward 8’s Council seat?
Jenkins listed “commitment, knowledge, relationships” as three reasons that she believes she is best suited to represent Ward 8. She said she would make progress at city hall and avoid gridlock.
“I love this community,” Jenkins said. “I have lived here and invested in this community for the past 25 years.”
Find more information on Jenkins’s positions on her website, https://www.andrea-jenkins.com.