With massive support from membership, Twin Cities DSA has endorsed four candidates in the 2021 Minneapolis Elections. All candidates are committed to the chapter backed measures for a meaningful rent control policy and department of public safety, and understand that change will require a broad, multiracial working-class coalition to create a Minneapolis for all of us.
Jason Chavez – Ward 9
Jason is a legislative aide, neighborhood organizer, and former Minnesota Young DFL president running to bring community led and community centered solutions to City Hall. Born and raised in Minneapolis, Jason’s parents left Mexico for the chance of a better future in Minnesota. They taught him to center community in his work, and he knows firsthand the ability for community to provide love, support, and encouragement. He also has seen firsthand the effects of predatory systems on working class and BIPOC people, as his parents worked up to three jobs each, his family experienced eviction, and he began working at age 14 to help pay the bills. It is to answer these struggles that he is dedicated to the fight for police abolition, housing justice, worker’s rights and support for immigrants at the local level. A democratic socialist, he views it as our collective duty to fight for anti-capitalism and to undo the legacy of white supremacy entrenched in our systems-and if we cannot change the system, we must build a new one that can meet this core goal. He feels no one should be left behind, that people need to be brought along in a campaign of hope and change with a radical vision of love and care, and have these principles be integrated and sustained by the government. He wants as many people on board as possible, because if we want to create change in Ward 9 and the city, the real work begins when we get to City Hall.
Robin Wonsley Worlobah – Ward 2
Robin is a community engagement coordinator for Education Minnesota, a PhD student in Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies, and a former development director with 15Now MN. Moving from Chicago to Northfield, MN to attend Carleton College, it was there that she began to develop a radical analysis of the world, through learning about society’s power brokers, and the ways in which they create conditions of poverty, inequality, and violence across the globe. She related these critiques of capitalism, patriarchy, and imperialism to her lived experience growing up, from the decimation of public housing, the constant imprisonment of poor and working-class black folks, and the emphasis on individualistic framings to combat poverty and mass incarceration. Over the next few years, she would be galvanized to action by the Occupy movement and the Black Lives Matter movement, and her own studies on eliminating mass incarceration. She is dedicated to the goals of universal housing, public safety beyond policing, taxation of the wealthy to bring public money under community control, and ongoing working-class organizing while in office. As an activist and democratic socialist, she is committed to dismantling the racist institutions and systems woven into the fabric of capitalism that have only served to exploit, imprison, and oppress communities. In the broad project of ending racism and dismantling capitalism, it is a necessity to build collective power that operates outside of –and in opposition to– the capitalist ruling class. As an elected official, she will amplify our social movements and bring them into City Hall with her.
Aisha Chughtai – Ward 10
Aisha is a political organizer for the SEIU Minnesota State Council, co-founder of the Young Democrats of America Muslim Caucus, and a former campaign manager for Rep. Ilhan Omar. She entered the workforce at a young age, working in retail and in childcare, and most of her career has been spent bringing people together to build a world where we all have what we need to live safe and joyful lives. She has been a DSA member for over a year and has considered herself a socialist for much longer than that. Moving to Whittier, one of the last places in the city with affordable housing, she involved herself in struggles to protect people’s homes and through that found community in the neighborhood. During the uprising, she saw firsthand that when systems fail, community shows up to fill the gaps, and she believes that our government has a responsibility to prioritize those closest to the ground in decision making. She wants to be a champion for policies like fair scheduling for working class people, housing policies like rent control to keep people in their homes, and for leading us down a path that defunds the police and fully funds our communities. As a council member, accessibility, accountability, and active conversation with all parts of the ward will be used to build and grow authentic and genuine relationships across communities. She is running for office to advance our shared visions and values. This is a critical moment for our city, and Aisha knows that change will only come through a bold vision, deep connections to community, and a broad, multiracial, multigenerational coalition of working people that are ready to fight for a Minneapolis that works for all of us.
Sheila Nezhad – Mayor
Sheila is a policy organizer for Reclaim the Block, union member of the Newspaper and Communications Guild CWA Local 37002, former restaurant worker and former board president of the Lyndale Neighborhood Association. She is seeking to unseat Mayor Jacob Frey. She has been a community organizer for over ten years, involving herself in the fight for LGBTQ liberation, the Fight for $15 and sick and safe time, and campaigns for investments in alternatives to policing. She is an abolitionist who believes our city deserves better options than violent policing and mass incarceration as our only choices for public safety. She envisions a city where justice and safety are a reality, and will push for affordable rent, fully funded schools, more youth programs, comprehensive sex ed that teaches healthy relationship skills, and accessible mental health supports. Her experience has shown her that all too often the policy solutions offered by politicians are not what people actually need, and that those most impacted are not included in the creation of those decisions. The past year especially has driven home that while ultimate liberation will come from organized people, it matters who is in power. To her, democratic socialism is about shifting the social and economic structures of government so that each person has access to what they need and are a part of the governmental decision-making processes Her campaign is called Sheila for the People, because she wants to be a leader who will be accountable, will fight alongside the people, and will lead in step with those driving change on the ground.
Rent prices have seen staggering increases year over year, to a degree that many pay unsustainable rates of their income toward housing or have already been forced out of their communities. In places where it has been implemented, rent control been a veritable lifeline for the many tenants who would have been completely priced out of cities. Current state law prohibits Minneapolis from passing an ordinance related to rent control unless we amend the city charter to specifically allow it. In support of this, TCDSA has endorsed the Minneapolis United for Rent Control campaign to amend the city charter and subsequently pass a meaningful rent control policy. This means avoiding developer-friendly loopholes that over time deteriorate their protections, and fighting for the components that will secure true affordable housing, such as:
- Capping the amount rent can be raised each year to inflation (about 3%).
- Applying the policy to all properties with a rental license.
- Limiting the amount landlords can pass renovation and repair costs onto tenants.
- Applying the policy to the home, rather than the tenant (Keeping the cap in place even if a tenant moves out).
- Creating a well-resourced renter protection board to enforce the ordinance.
- Retroactively applying the policy to rents a year before the ordinance is passed to prevent price gouging.
Yes 4 Minneapolis
A year on from the murder of George Floyd, the uprising, and the city council’s broken promise to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department, some changes have been achieved in other areas, but little has been achieved locally. If progress is to be made, we will need to demand that our city leaders move away from violent policing to create a department that addresses community safety holistically. To this end, TCDSA has endorsed the “Yes 4 Minneapolis” charter amendment. This amendment would remove the minimum required police officers and create a new Department of Public Safety, opening the scope of options Minneapolis has available. It will allow us to change the current police-only model of public safety required by the current City Charter, and instead combine public safety functions of the City of Minneapolis into a department with comprehensive public health approach with a range of capabilities. The city will be able to create a public safety service for residents which include mental health responders, substance abuse specialists, violence interrupters, and prevention specialists to fulfill the responsibilities of the Department of Public Safety.
The TCDSA Political Fund is responsible for the content of this message.
By Tim H (co-chair of TCDSA Electoral Committee)