The Southwest Journal’s voter’s guide includes stories on the three competitive races for the Minneapolis School Board and questionnaires with candidates running for the U.S. House and the state House and Senate. We also include a rundown of everything you’ll see on your ballot, including an explanation of the city’s two referendums. You can read our full 2020 voter’s guide here.
The District 61B race pits a first-term incumbent and one of six House assistant majority leaders against a longtime Minneapolitan whose aim is to break the streak of DFL dominance in the city.
Jamie Long, an attorney and DFL leader on environmental issues, is challenged by first-time candidate Lisa Pohlman.
Jamie Long (incumbent)
Endorsements: Minnesota AFL-CIO, Minnesota Association of Professional Employees, Moms Demand Action, AFSCME Council 5, Minnesota Nurses Association, Sierra Club
Money raised/cash on hand: $61,855 (Jan. 1, 2019-July 20, 2020)/$9,940 (as of July 20)
Accomplishments and top priorities: It has been a tremendous privilege to represent Southwest Minneapolis. In my first term, I was elected as Assistant Majority Leader by my colleagues. I also succeeded in passing four bills — to fund our census mobilization efforts, to save Minneapolis taxpayers $20 million in pension obligations, to improve energy-efficient building financing and to increase funding for rooftop solar. If reelected, I will have four top priorities: 1) confronting our climate crisis by passing 100% clean energy; 2) expanding family economic security through paid family leave and affordable child care; 3) criminal justice reform; and 4) expanding voting rights.
Police reform and public safety: As a member of the Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Committee, I have worked hard on police accountability, including proposing a bill last year with Sen. Dibble to move to an independent prosecutor for officer-involved deaths. The Minnesota Police Accountability Act, which we passed in July, is an important step forward and included a provision I sponsored requiring mental health and crisis intervention training for police. But we must continue to do more to transform public safety in our state, including true civilian oversight, improved licensing and independent prosecution.
Affordable housing and homelessness: No Minnesotan should suffer from unstable housing. We are facing an urgent need to invest in more affordable housing in our state. We should start by making bold investments in our bonding bill, including at least $200 million in new affordable housing, as well as millions more in homeownership support and public housing rehabilitation. We must create a state-level rent subsidy program to meet the enormous demand for rent support. We should also protect renters by enacting just-cause eviction, so that landlords must demonstrate a reason to evict a renter.
Systemic racial inequalities: Our racial disparities – from health, to home- ownership, to education – are shameful. We must focus racial equity in every decision to eliminate these gaps. One area I have prioritized is criminal justice reform, where race drives many outcomes. I founded the bipartisan Criminal Justice Reform Caucus. I also authored a bill to cap probation at five years to rein in our fifth-worst-in-the-nation probation lengths, which we enacted through executive action! Next year I hope to pass my Clean Slate Act to automatically expunge old records and create opportunities to obtain employment, housing and a new start.
GOP: Lisa Pohlman
Occupation: Business manager
Money raised/cash on hand: No data available
Qualifications and top priorities: I have lived in Minneapolis for 25 years and seen our city go from a great place to live to scary in the last few months. Minneapolis has been represented by Democrats only at every level of government for 50 years and the results are not good. I am running to bring a conservative voice and positive change to our community. I have spent my career in the business sector. I have 30 years of leadership experience building relationships with companies, customers and suppliers globally. I will listen to and work for the South Minneapolis community and I will get things done. My top priorities are public safety, school choice and economic recovery.
Police reform and public safety: Defunding and dismantling police forces make headlines, but they will weaken our community and reduce public safety. I will fight for adequate funding of our police force to improve what exists. Minneapolis must have the best officers, that are well-trained, accountable and earn the respect of our community. I will make sure there are enough officers so they are not overworked and can maintain physical and mental health. I will not tolerate criminal behavior or misconduct by officers and will address it swiftly utilizing our legal system.
I will support Crime Prevention and Social Services entities that work in partnership with the police force to address the root causes of crime.
I will recommend the return of School Resource Officers to MPS. This is an opportunity for students to develop positive relationships with police officers and see them as part of their community, while maintaining safety in schools.
Affordable housing and homelessness: My first priority will be prevention of homelessness. Our community must address the causes: abuse, addiction, mental illness, unemployment and evictions. If we provide support services such as counseling, health care, treatment and employment assistance, we can reduce the use of crisis services like shelters, hospitals and prisons.
I support building permanent supportive housing for those with long-term needs,
in partnership with nonprofits. These are places where people can have a stable home while treating health and social problems and where they can get ongoing support to find work and live productive lives.
I do not support using our parks for encampments; this is not humane and it is not the appropriate use of the parklands.
Systemic racial inequalities: As Americans we need to reject the divisive course and work to reduce the inequalities that separate races. We must close the gap of income, wealth and earnings by creating opportunity zones that will provide training, education and mentoring to lead to high-paying and rewarding jobs. Community and faith-based organizations, employers, public health agencies and the government must work together to support community opportunity zones. These partnerships will close the inequalities by improving economic growth, social mobility, health and opportunity.
Caring for our community by providing educational choice, public safety, support services for those in need and opportunity zones will change the course of our city and make Minneapolis a great place for all races to live and prosper together.