Let me be perfectly clear: I do not support abolishing the police. The reality is today we’re about 300 officers short of the 888 maximum force authorized by the City Council (and about 150 short of the approximately 720 minimum officer count required by the City Charter). It will take years to hire enough officers to fill that gap even if we double the current hiring pace. A better structure would be to expand who we can hire within a Department of Public Safety and reallocate workload that doesn’t require an armed officer response.
I do not support any measures that would hurt our officers’ capacity to respond to crimes. I do believe certain types of 911 calls could be handled with other responders through 311, allowing the police to focus on serious crimes so officers aren’t simply running from call to call.
We can create better outcomes for both our community members and our officers by choosing other ways to respond to traffic incidents and non-violent mental health calls. We shouldn’t be spending our city budget arresting and prosecuting residents for minor offenses, such as possessing small amounts of marijuana. And we should end pretext traffic stops, which have an insignificant effect on crime rates and have a disproportionate negative impact on our Black neighbors.
This is why I support the proposed charter amendment to create a new Department of Public Safety, which would include police as well as additional evidence-based public safety programs that reduce crime.
We also need accountability. Victims of police brutality deserve more than a hashtag. In our current structure, the Mayor has unilateral oversight over the police department. For years, Palmisano has voted against measures to give the council, and voters, more say in MPD policy.
Even after two terms in City Hall, Council Member Palmisano has failed to deliver on public safety reform. We need immediate, significant action to prevent further violence and unrest, acknowledge the needs of vulnerable residents, and promote more efficient use of our budget. Existing leadership is what led to the uprising in Minneapolis, and we need to go in a new direction now. I am optimistic that a new Department of Public Safety will create a solid foundation for repair, trust, safety and prosperity across our city.
We are in a climate emergency. We can and must act now to protect our air quality and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels as a city, but we can’t do it without being realistic about people’s needs.
If we want to encourage greener transit choices, we need to make them safe and convenient.
The most effective way to alleviate traffic, reduce the need for on-street parking, and reduce carbon emissions is to focus our transit resources on buses and bikes. I support increasing Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lines and protected bike lanes for commuting.
We can also plan for the future by encouraging greener construction. Council Member Palmisano was one of just two votes against a partnership to assess the benefits of providing financial incentives for using geothermal energy on large-scale projects.
The most effective way to get more affordable housing is to allow for more housing, period. The city’s restrictive building codes create barriers to positive change. Any new housing policy must acknowledge our city’s legacy of redlining and racial segregation.
I support the council’s recent decision to allow single-room occupancy residences (SROs). This is a long-overdue tool to combat homelessness and rising costs of living, but it doesn’t go far enough.
I also support rent stabilization. One-fourth of our neighbors in Ward 13 are renters and we can’t build a safe, thriving community without protecting renters’ rights. I believe tenants should have the opportunity to purchase their home when their landlords decide to sell.
Another way to make housing more affordable is to pay a livable wage. I support a citywide minimum wage of $20/hr in Minneapolis.