My Hopes for Brooklyn Park
Important work has been done in the past year related to addressing the conduct and effectiveness of the city council, commissions, and city staff. This work should continue. In my time of formal engagement in city government I have overheard countless statements from a variety of constituents related to outright conflict and passive mistrust between various persons who serve on the council, commissions, boards, and in city departments. As a person trained to help build healthy and functional relationships, I would like to be a part of the restoration of good working relationships at all levels of the city government.
Being politically engaged in a suburban community is different than it is on a state or national scale. The left, right, and center cannot write each other off as extremists, or as irrelevant, because we go to school, places of worship, and the grocery store together. We use the same parks, trails, and roads. We drink the same water. We all need to listen to each other and find solutions together.
I will always be transparent about my positions when asked. If you do not share those positions, please talk to me about what is important to you. I will not dismiss you. I will try to understand your point of view and see where we find common ground.
As I modeled in 2018 in the campaign between Tonja West-Hafner and myself, I will not attack any candidate for any office in Brooklyn Park. I may critique ideas and I will certainly share my own ideas. I hope every candidate for office in Brooklyn Park will make the same commitment.
I believe that with the right training, encouragement, support, and resources that our law enforcement officers can both enforce the law, and be among our greatest advocates for human rights. Our community deserves that. In recent years that belief has been challenged for many of us. We in Brooklyn Park know that many of our neighbors have difficulty trusting the police. This community, like many others, is demanding change.
I would like to see, and contribute to, growing relationships of reconciliation, accountability, trust, and health between all of our law enforcement officers and all of the communities present in our city. I would like to support our police and fire services in building the most physically, emotionally, culturally, and intellectually healthy staff possible. I want a police department and city government as a whole that is actively anti-racist and is constantly proactive in both culture and policy to keep every resident safe.
In months and years ahead the Brooklyn Park Police Department in particular will have hard work to do to gain the trust of some of our neighbors. We will be asking, demanding, that they address concerns related to how law enforcement is conducted in Brooklyn Park. For example, how do they respond to high call volumes in certain areas which give residents of those neighborhoods a constant experience of being over-policed? I am committed to the hard work of pushing new ways of thinking and creative community engagement that will be required to accomplish this.
Obvious development opportunities continue to exist along the 610 and 169 corridors. We have seen much growth and energy along those corridors already and we should expect that will continue due to the clear desirability of those locations.
It is my hope that for the remaining land north of 610, that our leaders will do the hard work required to move beyond fast food and warehouses. I would like to see the city invest the same energy in the redevelopment of our southern commercial and retail corridors. This will obviously take a different kind of investment, and a different kind of energy but I feel it is vitally important to the future of our city.
The root causes of the affordable housing shortage in Minnesota, and nationally, are complex. Low unemployment and strong stock market performance contribute to high demand. Rigorous building codes in Minnesota contribute to higher prices for new construction. (Housing First Research Document) Developers have little support or motivation to built affordable housing units.
Many of these things are out of the control of a municipal government. However, municipalities do have choices to make. We must use the influence we do have to support affordable housing for all and to hold landlords accountable for the safety of their tenants. We must be creative in developing new approaches.
We have some great parks and have others that are full of potential. We have some that have yet to be imagined. Discussions have begun around the development of outdoor performance spaces, indoor aquatic facilities, nature areas, and new recreation facilities. I am supportive of the work that has been done so far, and believe that the community and the city should work together to determine needs, desires, solutions, and available resources for the development and redevelopment of these important amenities.
Brooklyn Park has engaged youth through several successful programs and partnerships such as the Zanewood Community Center, Youth Intervention Team, Brooklyn Bridge Alliance for Youth, and Brooklyn Avenues Youth Shelter. Needs remain. Voters in Brooklyn Park wisely approved new funding for the Parks and Recreation department to further develop offering in this area. The city has important work to do in this are in the next few years.
Brooklyn Park has engaged youth through several successful programs and partnerships such as the Zanewood Community Center, Youth Intervention Team, Brooklyn Bridge Alliance for Youth, and Brooklyn Avenues Youth Shelter. Needs remain. Voters in Brooklyn Park wisely approved new funding for the Parks and Recreation department to further develop offering in this area. The city has important work to do in this area in the next few years.
In an age-friendly community, policies, services and structures related to the physical and social environment are designed to support and enable older people to “age actively” – that is, to live in security, enjoy good health and continue to participate fully in society.
Brooklyn Park has made great strides in creating a welcoming and enriching environment for our senior residents. The City offers a plethora of programming for seniors including activities aimed to learn a new skill, meet new people or join others who have the same interests and passions. At the Community Activity Center, the City offers a Senior Resource Room to help guide families to local senior services including:
Community and civic participation
Public spaces and transportation
Housing and health
We should continue to expand our activities and services for our senior population, and ensure their accessibility in terms of promotion, cost, and transportation. It's also paramount that we ensure our senior programs and activities are attractive and relevant to all of our diverse cultural communities.