Although no one received enough votes at the DFL convention in July for the party to give its endorsement to any of the major candidates running for mayor of Minneapolis, City College News endorses Nekima Levy-Pounds.
Levy-Pounds doesn’t have the government experience of some of the other candidates but leads a prolific public life as a civil rights attorney and activist. Levy-Pounds gained prominence in Minnesota after becoming a spokesperson for a Black Lives Matter protest at the Mall of America and leading a shut-down of Interstate 94 after the police shooting of Jamar Clark.
Levy-Pounds served as a volunteer attorney at the University of Illinois law clinic, legal observer for the National Lawyers Guild in Ferguson, MO. and received a fellowship at the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. She also founded a family law and civil rights legal clinic at the University of St. Thomas and is a former president of the Minneapolis chapter of the NAACP.
Levy-Pounds feels that she’s the best candidate to engage citizens who have grown tired of racial inequity and the negative consequences of the War on Drugs.
“There are so many people who are part of the majority culture who are fed of up the status quo, and they have compassion, so how about we get those folks engaged and helping to create what Dr. King referred to as the beloved community,” she said in a interview with Minnesota Public Radio.
In a year that’s been defined locally by protests against institutional racism and police shootings, Levy-Pounds is the best candidate to address these issues. Instead of seeking the endorsement of the DFL, Levy-Pounds addressed the large crowd that amassed at the Minnesota State Capitol after the Jeronimo Yanez verdict. The demonstration shut down I. 94 that night and continued for two additional days.
Despite being eight months pregnant, Levy-Pounds again addressed demonstrators on the third day of those protests in St. Anthony. She was also scheduled to speak at the protest that marched down Hennepin Ave to interrupt incumbent Mayor Betsy Hodges’s press conference addressing the police shooting of Justine Damond that shocked the Twin Cities, but she delivered her fourth child that day.
While Levy-Pounds has been on the front lines fighting for equality, her platform addresses other key issues.
Levy-Pounds’s most extensive issue is addressing an affordable housing crisis in the city. On her website, she cites rising costs due to higher demand than supply and prioritizes building more housing, building and preserving affordable housing, improving and preserving access to housing, mitigating negative outcomes due to gentrification and working to end homelessness.
Levy-Pounds wants to reduce housing disparities by addressing predatory rental practices, enacting equal access initiatives that enforce fair housing laws and holding landlords accountable for the livability of their properties.
She promises that she will pursue an agenda that protects the city’s water and air by working to clean the Mississippi River and reducing food insecurity by encouraging community gardens and incentivizing rainwater harvesting.
Levy-Pounds says that Minneapolis needs a paradigm shift to address economic equality and will pursue an agenda that implements policies that address wage and racial disparities. She acknowledges that Minneapolis has a fairly strong economy but that we still must offer support to those who are unemployed or underemployed.
Minneapolis City Council passed a 15 dollar minimum wage in June and Levy-Pounds was in full support of enacting this ordinance before all the other mayoral contenders. She acknowledges that taking this action is a step in the right direction but that there is still more work to be done to reduce income disparities.
She is a strong supporter of equality regardless of race, socioeconomic status, gender, sexual orientation and special needs, and makes a call for Minneapolis to set aside differences and come together.
Levy-Pounds’s strongest issue is of course criminal justice reform. She says that we need to move beyond talking about fixing the system and start enacting policies that makes Minneapolis a national leader that sets an example of how to cultivate true racial equity. Levy-Pounds says that in order to do this, Minneapolis needs to improve community and police relations and create policies that reduce high rates of recidivism.
For full details on Nekima Levy-Pounds’s platform, visit her campaign website at minneapolisfornekima.com.
Get out the vote
You can vote by mail, or you can vote early in-person, starting 46 days before each election. For the Nov. 7, 2017 Municipal Election, early voting started on Friday, Sept. 22, by mail and in-person.
The Early Vote Center is located at 217 3rd St. S., at the corner of 3rd Ave. S. and 3rd St. S., one block from City Hall.
Visit vote.minneapolismn.gov for additional election information.
Additional information on Levy-Pounds, other mayoral candidates and elections for Minneapolis City Council and boards visit ballotpedia.org.