Sunday, November 3, 2013
Blong Yang - First Choice for the Fifth Ward
Photo from www.blongyang.org.
I first got to know Blong Yang when we worked together on a campaign to get a Hmong-speaking police officer on the day shift in north Minneapolis. When he ran for Hennepin County Commissioner, I was looking for a candidate to support who was smart, level-headed, honest, and hadn't been responsible for foisting publicly-funded stadiums upon us. Blong fit the bill.
While Blong didn't win that race, he ran a solid, respectable campaign that surprised a lot of folks. He did very well especially in engaging new voters in north Minneapolis. I was proud of him and proud of the work we did in that election. So there should be no surprise that from day one I supported Blong Yang as my first choice for the open Fifth Ward City Council seat.
On policy issues...
...Blong struck the right chord regarding public safety and civil rights when he said at a debate, "I want to love our police department." But the relationship between the MPD and our community isn't where it needs to be. As mentioned above, Blong has direct experience in improving those interactions on the public safety side. He has also worked for the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights, and was part of a unit that eliminated chronic backlogs that had plagued that department. While candidates decry the new Civilian Review Authority for failing to take even a single disciplinary action, Blong has the most direct experience with how to make necessary changes.
Blong understands housing policy, and not just preservation issues that I hold dear. He grasps the need to keep housing affordable for all, while bringing in more economic opportunities to north Minneapolis. And although education is in many ways a peripheral issue to city council election, it is a need that residents will rely on their council member to address. Blong is the only candidate in the race with children, and I believe that deepens his ability to work on issues like the education gap.
These were all things I knew before this campaign started. What did surprise me was finding out the depths of Blong's experience, and how much more I was convinced that this is a person our community needs in a leadership position. Blong's personal history as an immigrant who came here through refugee camps, who grew up on welfare and still earned a law degree, and who has stayed true to his convictions for his family and his community are among the many reasons why I'm not just proud to support him as a candidate. I'm proud to call him a friend.
While each candidate brings something to the table, Blong's experience, values, and policy positions make him the most well-rounded candidate and the best person to serve our ward as the next city council member.