Minneapolis City Council
‘Our message needs to be about everybody’
From the Minneapolis Labor Review, October 27, 2017
By Steve Share, editor, Minneapolis Labor Review
MINNEAPOLIS — “Racial and economic justice are the cornerstones of my life’s work,” says Andrea Jenkins. “They are the foundation of my campaign platform and will be my priorities as a Minneapolis city council member.”
Jenkins is running for the open Ward 8 seat representing south Minneapolis on the Minneapolis city council.
Jenkins is running with the endorsement of the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, AFL-CIO. She also is DFL-endorsed.
The incumbent, Elizabeth Glidden, is not running for re-election and has endorsed Jenkins.
Jenkins knows well the issues and workings of the Ward 8 city council office: She worked as the council aide first for Ward 8 council member Robert Lilligren from 2001-2003 and then for Glidden from 2006-2015.
As Ward 8 council aide, Jenkins was instrumental in helping to shape and shepherd two major projects in Ward 8: the Midtown Exchange and Global Market on E. Lake Street and the Seward Co-op’s Friendship Store on E. 38th Street.
When Glidden announced on a Friday that she would not seek re-election, by Monday a “Run, Andrea, Run” campaign on Facebook had been organized.
‘Affordable housing is an equity issue. Employment is an equity issue. Climate change has an equity component — it’s called environmental justice...’
Jenkins was born in Chicago and moved to the Twin Cities to attend the University of Minnesota.
She worked for Hennepin County for 10 years as a vocational counselor in the employment and training department. “I saw the revolving door of the same people, the same issues, systemic issues, growing up in poverty,” she relates. “I thought, I’ve got to make changes to the system.”
Echoing Paul Wellstone, she says, “what politics is really about is helping people have better lives.”
For Jenkins, Minneapolis needs to engage full-on in addressing racial equity.
“Minneapolis is the best place in the country for a white person to live in at any age,” she says. “Why is it the worst city for black people to live in?” And she adds, that’s not hyperbole. Minneapolis is indeed worst — “factually, numerically the worst” by many measures:
“Affordable housing is an equity issue. Employment is an equity issue. Climate change has an equity component — it’s called environmental justice… These are all equity issues.” Jenkins says.
In addition to Jenkins’ work in community development, she also is an acclaimed writer, poet and performer who is a noted transgender artist and activist and a nationally-renowned keynote speaker.
Jenkins currently works for the University of Minnesota Libraries directing the Transgender Oral History Project.
Working now at the U of M, Jenkins is a member of SEIU Local 284. She was a member of AFSCME Local 34 during her years working for Hennepin County. And she is a former president of the local branch of the National Writers Union.
“I support union labor. I support union rights,” Jenkins says. “Part of the challenge with this global economy… we need to lift up the rights of workers all over the world.”
“Unions need to be real clear about who their constituency is,” she adds.
“They can’t continue to be exclusionary… Our future workforce is going to be people of color… Our message always needs to be about everybody.”