As a school psychologist in the Minneapolis Public Schools, I see that inequity is at the root of the biggest challenges our schools and scholars face; inequity of opportunity, inequity of resources, and inequity of outcomes for too many of our children and families. While some responsibility for these inequities falls on school district leadership, a large share also stems from deeply ingrained inequities in our city as a whole, which have been maintained as the status quo by our city for too long.
I’m supporting Jillia Pessenda for City Council to represent Ward One because she has a record of partnering with organizations and people of color, LGBT groups, families, and diverse small businesses to address these inequities. She shows up. She takes action. She is bringing more voices to the table.
Our current Ward One Council Member has too often taken a back seat rather than taking action on pressing issues such as:
- police bias and brutality;
- lack of adequate public transportation routes connecting neighborhoods of color (including lack of bus routes for students in North Minneapolis attending Edison High School);
- industrial polluters making residents sick in neighborhoods along the river;
- affordable housing;
- living wages; and more.
Jillia will take action and lead towards justice and equity. She will represent the interests of the people over large corporations and taxpayer funded stadiums.
We need new and fresh leadership who will walk the walk and be committed to progress. That’s why I’m supporting Jillia Pessenda for Minneapolis City Council in Ward One.
As an artist and an arts advocate, I’ve had the opportunity to work with Jillia on several different fronts. Our paths intersected when Jillia was working with California Street Farm where we used art to talk about urban farming. As one of the co-founders, she was dedicated to changing city zoning for urban agriculture and market gardens. In this role, she also hired Step Up interns (high school students) who gained value urban agriculture experience and learned about community activism.
In addition to fighting for marriage equality for same-sex couples, Jillia and I also collaborated at Headwaters Foundation where Jillia was the Development Director and I am a member of their Board of Directors. We worked together to raise money that could be granted to organizations committed to dismantling racism and building bridges to find commonalities between communities.
Jillia is a knowledgeable thought partner. She understands the creative economy – she knows that Northeast Minneapolis is recognized as an arts district and understands the importance of keeping artists in Ward One. Artists are struggling to afford rent or studio space and the problem is only getting worse. Jillia has a bold vision to ensure artists and all of Ward 1 can afford to make this our home. Jillia will work to increase funding for affordable housing, prioritize community land trusts to create perpetually affordable housing, and strengthen tenants' rights.
I trust Jillia will ensure Ward 1 is an affordable place to live and work. She has the tenacity and follow through to see that this will happen. She has the courage to put people ahead of corporate politics. I urge you to make Jillia your first choice when you vote in November.
We'll all benefit from having Jillia on the Minneapolis City Council.
Artist & Arts Advocate
TakeAction Minnesota is an organization focused on realizing racial and economic equity across Minnesota and on electing progressive leaders. They support candidates who:
- are bold leaders with a progressive vision, having life experience which demonstrates this bold vision
- have an effective plan to win
- have an understanding and ability to govern
- will be a strong governing partner in the progressive movement
Jillia has a proven track-record of implementing progressive values, including working with community and government to bring more voices to the table and passing policies that make a positive impact. She knows that when we take action together, we can bring our collective vision to life.
Jillia is a longtime NOC member we first met through the Occupy movement. She has a brilliant instinct and proven track record for understanding policy related problems and working tirelessly until the problem is solved.
Through Occupy Homes, Jillia worked closely with NOC to bring the energy of the Occupy movement to support the people who were most impacted by the big banks’ policies -- homeowners facing unjust foreclosure. Jillia worked with homeowners and renters who were fighting to keep their homes, helping them navigate paperwork, bank policy, and city government, and led public pressure campaigns to change the policies forcing people out of their homes. She represented NOC in a coalition to pass the Minnesota Homeowner Bill of Rights, one of the strongest sets of homeowner protections in the country, which passed in May 2013 with near unanimous support.
Jillia’s demonstrated ability to combine service work, organizing, and policy solutions make her uniquely qualified to serve on the Minneapolis City Council. She leveraged the skills she used with Occupy Homes to help legalize urban agriculture on the Minneapolis City Council, while working with NOC to turn vacant city-owned lots into community gardens, and to the Capitol to work to pass marriage equality. She’s shown a remarkable ability to solve problems at both the individual and systemic level. Her leadership is exactly the approach we need on the Minneapolis City Council.
Jillia’s answers to our questionnaire revealed a complex understanding of how different systems impact our lives and how policy can help to change those systems. She understands how a lack of affordable childcare impacts our policing system, and how over policing leads to mass incarceration which limits participation in democracy. She understands how to get to the root of a problem and she isn’t afraid to stand up for what’s right, like fighting for a $15 minimum wage with no tip penalty and creating public safety models beyond policing, even before these issues became politically popular.
NOC members who are Ward 1 residents told us resoundingly in our caucus survey that Jillia is their choice to represent them on the City Council. We are thrilled to endorse her as our next Ward 1 City Council Member.
As residents of Minneapolis, we are deeply invested in the future of our city. We urgently need a pro-active City Council who will move our progressive values forward. That’s why we’re endorsing Jillia Pessenda in Ward One.
As Minneapolis legislators in the Minnesota House and Senate, we know Jillia has been actively involved in improving the quality of life for many and diverse communities throughout the state. At this time four years ago, Jillia was working for Project 515 in support of the bill we co-authored for the freedom to marry for same sex couples -- families like ours. A year later, as a staff member at OutFront Minnesota, Jillia was back at the Capitol advocating for the Safe and Supportive Schools Act, which provides protections for all students, including those who identify as LGBTQ. Prior to that, Jillia was an advocate at the Minnesota legislature in 2012 and fought to protect homeowners from unjust foreclosures.
For me (Karen), I greatly appreciate the work Jillia did as a co-founder of California Street Farm, in collaboration with the Land Stewardship Project, to change city-zoning laws to allow urban agriculture and market gardens. When elected as the Ward One City Council Member, I trust Jillia will be the strong advocate we need for the Green Zone Policy Initiative, including urban farming and food justice, which is focused on mitigating the negative impact low-income communities and people of color experience in neighborhoods that are overburdened by environmental conditions such as traffic and industrial pollution as well as “food deserts”. Jillia will prioritize people over big business.
As the past chair and present ranking minority member of the Senate Committee on Transportation, Finance and Policy, I (Scott) trust that Jillia will not just promote and vote for policies like Complete Streets, she will take the action necessary to implement them. Jillia will fight for the kind of investments in transportation that will deliver on an agenda for equity and opportunity that everyone in Ward One and across Minneapolis deserves.
Jillia’s grassroots, people-powered campaign is empowering and engaging community members across Ward One. We believe that we will all benefit greatly from her principled leadership at City Hall.
Rep. Karen Clark
Sen. Scott Dibble
When I was in college at Rutgers University, my roommate Theo Langason raved about Minneapolis and the neighborhood where he grew up, which was in Ward One. Fast-forward a few years and now I’m living here and working in the solar industry with my Masters in Urban Planning from the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
Minneapolis is as great as Theo said, BUT not for everyone. The racial disparities here are among the worst in the country. As someone who plans to make my career fostering strong, healthy cities, I believe the Minneapolis City Council must be progressive leaders and do more to reduce, and ultimately eliminate, the existing disparities.
The first step is closing the educational opportunity gap. Our current City Council Member has done a lot to make Edison High School a green campus, but what has he done to address the basic needs of the students, 82% of whom qualify for free or reduced lunch? This number is 20% higher than the district average. Intentional action must be taken to support our most vulnerable in the community: our kids.
To me, supporting kids includes raising the minimum wage to $15 so that everyone has housing they can afford and families have money for groceries so students can go to school ready to learn. Jillia's working families agenda supports these things.
Her experience clearly demonstrates that she will be a strong advocate for marginalized community members. She was active in the Occupy Homes movement to fight unjust foreclosures and help people stay in their homes. She was also involved in the passage of the Minnesota Homeowners Bill of Rights that protects families from predatory lenders.
At Project 515, Jillia worked alongside so many others to win marriage equality for same-sex couples. And, as a staff member at OutFront Minnesota, she was part of the coalition that was responsible for passing the Minnesota Safe & Supportive Schools Act, the most comprehensive anti-bullying law in the country.
As you can tell, Jillia doesn’t sit around and wait to see what will happen. She takes action to improve the quality of life for all of us. Her grassroots, people-powered campaign is focused on empowering and engaging residents in our ward, many whose voices aren’t being heard at City Hall.
Cameran J. Bailey
We’re committed to our community and to having a strong representative on the City Council who will drive progressive issues forward. That’s why we’ll be caucusing for Jillia Pessenda for City Council in Ward One on April 4.
We appreciate the way Northeast has grown over the past decade and we want it to continue to develop, but in a planned way, so that we are protecting our neighborhoods, making them even more bike-friendly and limiting pollution.
The Complete Streets policy, that the City Council recently passed, prioritizes people walking, biking and taking transit - over cars. Unfortunately, it has not been fully implemented on several high-profile projects. As a Council Member, we believe Jillia will not just promote and vote for policies like these that improve our neighborhoods, but will take the action necessary to implement them.
As a board member at OutFront Minnesota, I (Dan) had the opportunity to work with Jillia when she was on our Development team there. I appreciated Jillia’s transparent approach. She tells you what she is going to do - and then she does it. Jillia also understands the real value of money. She knows how difficult it is to raise money and how thoughtful you must be when you make decisions on how to spend it. I think both of these traits will serve her (and us) well as our City Council representative.
We know Jillia will partner with community members to proactively create the progress we need to move our city forward.
Dan Hawkins & Mike Welter
Windom Park Neighborhood
I am excited to support Jillia Pessenda for Minneapolis City Council because I believe she represents the future of Ward One.
I take pride in having lived in Northeast all of my life, and I love the fact that I graduated from Edison High School and my son, Liam, did too. Even though I cherish that there are many families with deep generational roots here, the fact is that the demographics are growing more diverse. We need a council member who will ensure that every resident in Ward 1 feels welcomed in this community. A council member who is a strong voice advocating for them at city hall.Whether you are of Polish-American descent, from Somalia, Mexico, Duluth, or Wisconsin, Jillia will represent you at City Hall.
As a former citywide member on the Minneapolis School Board (2009-2013 - the first person to be elected from Northeast in over 10 years), a community activist and DFL activist, and a 30 year social service professional, I understand the history of Ward One and the challenges we face. In this current political climate, status quo representation is no longer an option. Jillia has the courage and the capacity to face head-on the complex issues connected to racial, cultural and economic disparities.
Jillia understands the importance of raising the minimum to a living wage of $15/hour without a tip penalty. She understands that unstable housing impacts children being able to function at school. She understands that if you don’t have accessible public transportation, a person can’t maintain steady employment or get to school or college. Jillia knows that if we don’t invest in sustainable environmental practices and safe neighborhoods, the very health of our community is negatively impacted. She understands the importance of investing in small businesses so that our community can thrive. However, she also knows that in her role as a council member, the greatest alliance and obligation she will have is to Ward One residents, not developers or downtown businesses.
Although, there has been great work done at Edison and the surrounding neighborhood, Jillia knows that more can be done for every neighborhood in Ward One. She will work hard to have a genuine working relationship with all 10 neighborhoods in Ward One and will facilitate resources and partnerships that will help each neighborhood thrive.
Jillia is the 21st century leader we need for Ward One. The fact that she is a female candidate is icing on the cake. Let’s make history and elect our first woman to the Minneapolis City Council here in Ward One.
Former Minneapolis Public Schools Chairperson & Board Member
Lifelong NE Resident - Waite Park Neighborhood
Kyle “Guante” Tran Myhre
The past few months have been tough. While I live right here in Northeast Minneapolis, my work as an artist and educator takes me all over the country—and the refrain I hear everywhere is the same: this is not normal. The national political climate has so many people frustrated, scared, and disillusioned, and I can’t blame them.
What I can do, however, is challenge myself to recognize the power that I have—that we have—to do something about it. And that work starts here.
I’m excited to endorse Jillia Pessenda as my city councilperson, because I believe that we can still do what’s right, no matter who is sitting in the White House. Jillia’s platform, from economic justice, to racial justice, to environmental justice and beyond, is not just acceptable; it’s bold, progressive, and proactive—exactly what we need right now.
More than anything, though, I’ll be caucusing for Jillia because, while she is a principled, capable, committed individual, she’s also surrounded by a team of staff and supporters who embody the idea that leadership is never just about one person’s brilliance; it’s about how we work together to make things happen. It’s about listening and growing. It’s about affirming the fact that when people stand together, no politician, from any party, can ignore us.
Kyle “Guante” Tran Myhre
Artist, Educator, and Activist
I am supporting Jillia Pessenda, who was featured in the December 14 issue of The Northeaster, because I want to be represented by a leader who has a clear vision for the future of our city and will bring the voices of Ward One to the table.
I don’t want to sit back and accept the status quo. I don’t want to relax and be comfortable because we have a good-enough City Council Representative and live in a generally-progressive neighborhood of a generally-progressive city.
Good enough isn’t good enough right now. We need to elect a City Council member who will reflect and champion the values of our community and help implement progressive policies that move our city forward during this time. It’s not enough to just hold our ground. We need to engage and help our community, city, state, and country move forward. We can do this by paying attention and rolling up our sleeves at the local level. We can do this by caucusing for and electing Jillia Pessenda to the City Council from Ward One.
Jillia is my neighbor and I’ve experienced her looking out for others and being concerned about our community. I would love to see her passion and action on the City Council.
She is very clear about what she wants for Minneapolis and she is right on. We need publicly-funded elections, not publicly-funded stadiums. We need to support co-ops and small businesses. We need to enhance public transportation and rigorously enforce our plan to put people over cars when designing our streets. We need to actively focus on climate change and divest from polluters.
If the federal government won’t do it, the local one can. We can start by electing progressive champions like Jillia Pessenda.
Debbie Hahn Fisher