Elections 2020: MN House 63B DFL Primary

This seat was held by Jean Wagenius, who is not running again. On the ballot:

Emma Greenman (DFL endorsed)
Husniyah Dent Bradley
Jerome T. Evans

In trying to hunt down supplementary information on the three candidates, I found an article from January  (I think) about a forum held prior to the DFL endorsing convention (it includes two additional candidates who dropped out), and a League of Women Voters page with info (if you click the link I think it pulls up Husniyah, but you can click on Jerome or Emma to bring up theirs.)

Husniyah has a frustrating website (it managed to be both slow, and difficult to navigate because it didn’t fit properly on my laptop screen) but here is a direct link to her issues page. She has kind of your standard set of progressive principles without a lot of specifics (“We need to work on eliminating racism, prejudice and unconscious discrimination in our community and in the criminal justice system” — I don’t think anyone in this race would disagree with her.) She’s a Black woman — unlike some of the women profiled in this article she did not enter the race due to George Floyd but she stayed in after not winning endorsement in part due to George Floyd. So I don’t doubt her commitment to criminal justice and police reform, I’m just not sure what specifics she’d like to push for. And this is true for most of her policy stuff — her health care plan is “I will work with community leaders to come up with good workable plans to suggest to the state and push for legislation that will accomplish the goal of providing healthcare to everyone.” She’s worked as both a professional analytical chemist and as a lawyer. If she has any endorsements I couldn’t find them (but that might have been an issue with her website.)

Jerome is a gay Black man and Chair of the Nokomis East Neighborhood Association, NENA.  NENA had some massive drama six years ago but that may have been prior to Jerome becoming chair. The neighborhood associations in Minneapolis have often been groups that pushed back strongly against new housing development (if it was going to be multifamily, more than two stories, threatened anyone’s parking, etc.) but I’m not sure if NENA has been one of those or not. It does strike me that Jerome’s issues page doesn’t mention affordable housing, though. Also, his Environment page mentions transportation but then talks solely about electric cars.

Here’s what I do like about Jerome: he wants to set up something like the Georgia HOPE Scholarships in Minnesota. I know, I know, the real progressives want to eliminate public university tuition completely but I am just really pessimistic that this will actually happen and providing basically-automatic full-tuition scholarships to the U for students who achieved a certain GPA would be a hell of an improvement over what we have now, and “look, that southern state full of conservatives has this government program, we can certainly set this up” seems like the sort of pitch that might actually work?

I also tend to like people who are data-oriented, which he clearly is, but one of the ways in which “data-oriented” can be a weakness is in serious discomfort with ambiguity, and this is pretty visible in his statement on COVID on the LWV site, which includes (this was written months ago), “MDE should issue guidance to school districts about going back to school prior to the planned late-July announcement. District administration is not able to plan for the upcoming school year without that guidance.” I mean — yes, living in uncertainty sucks. But we did not know whether and to what extent COVID might be controlled by September, and telling schools, “make three plans,” and then waiting to see how many people were sick in late July — that was the only option that left re-opening even on the table. And I don’t think people would have accepted an announcement in June that we were just going to spend the summer preparing for distance learning. This is one of those “Politics: The Art of the Possible” problems.

I went looking for endorsements and the only one I found was from his partner. Which is very sweet but not particularly noteworthy.

Emma Greenman has a detailed and specific set of policy proposals that starts with a focus on voting access. Her background includes growing up in subsidized housing and relying on Medicaid due to her mother’s struggles with mental illness; her proposed policies include transit, affordable housing, and an extremely detailed set of proposals on funding, housing, medical coverage, education, and work for people with disabilities.

Emma is endorsed by the DFL and by pretty nearly everyone else, from Keith Ellison to Jeremy Schroeder to former Secretary of State Joan Growe. Also one of my friends who lives in the district.

If I lived in 63B I would vote for Emma.

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