A familiar presence at City Hall after 12 years as a Minneapolis City Council policy aide, Andrea Jenkins announced in December she plans to seek the Ward 8 seat being left open by the departure of Elizabeth Glidden.
Glidden announced in December she would not seek re-election to a fourth term in 2017. Jenkins, who used work for Glidden, is the first to step up and attempt to fill the void.
“I have a broad understanding of the issues that are impacting the ward,” said Jenkins, who lives and has owned a home in the Bryant neighborhood for 16 years. “I want to build on the equity work that Council Member Glidden has initiated and has been working on for the past four years and really bring true equity to the 8th ward and the city of Minneapolis.”
Jenkins, who grew up in Chicago and moved to Minneapolis to attend the University of Minnesota, holds a master’s degree in community economic development. She worked with former City Council Member Robert Lilligren before joining Glidden’s office. She is also a poet and in 2015 left City Hall to lead the University of Minnesota’s Transgender Oral History Project.
Jenkins said, as a transgender woman of color, she has a “deeply held belief if we can make life better for the most marginalized in our society, we can make life better for everybody.”
But she said she didn’t want to make her identity the focal point of her campaign. Instead, she’s running because she sees cities playing a critical role in the uncertain political landscape of a Donald Trump presidency.
“At this moment in political discourse in our country, I think that cities are going to be our main resistance to totalitarianism, to authoritarianism, to all of the really horrible, horrific cuts that are getting ready to come down to cities,” Jenkins said.
She said she supports a $15 minimum wage — an issue that may come to a vote in the first half of next year, before a new council is sworn into office.
She said the next Ward 8 representative would have to stay on top of significant transit and transportation issues, including potential disruption caused by I-35W Transit/Access Project. The highway cuts through Ward 8, and the Minnesota Department of Transportation plans to begin work in 2017 on the four-year, $265-million project, which adds a major new transit station, bridges, lanes and ramps.
Jenkins would push the city to continue making improvements to its bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, while focusing on equity in access to transit.
“We need to have stronger east-west connections to bus rapid-transit, to the light rail,” she said. “We need to have a strong regional plan to improve the transit system and make sure that it is connecting to populations that historically have not had access to good paying jobs out in the surrounding suburbs.”
Jenkins said she is also concerned by creeping gentrification and would work to preserve and increase access to affordable housing. As development begins to transform areas of the city that have suffered from disinvestment, Jenkins wants long-term residents to help shape their growth.
“I just believe the people who have been in those communities and paid taxes and paid dues and lived through some of the crime and the disinvestment should be some of the people who benefit from that, as well,” she said.