I have been a teenage single mother, a Northsider, a nurse, a prosecutor, and a judge. Now, I am on the verge of becoming the first Black county attorney in Minnesota’s 164-year history. One thing I have never been is a politician. I believe that keeping our community safe and building a fairer justice system shouldn’t be a partisan issue. I consider myself a Democrat, but I am the only candidate running who is endorsed by Democrats, Republicans, and independents. When I retired from the bench earlier this year, I did so not to pursue a political career or push an agenda, but to serve the public. My community endured the pain of watching a community member murdered by a police officer. Then, my neighborhood experienced a record wave of violent crime, 90 homicides in 2 years, up from 35. These twin tragedies amplified the most extreme voices on the political spectrum: “defund the police” or “lock them all up”. Neither of these solutions was sufficient. I decided I had to step up; I knew then what I firmly believe now, we must do more for the people of Hennepin County: more prevention, more accountability, and more transparency. My convictions are the same as they have always been: safety, justice, compassion. Together, we must work together to establish safety first and safety for all.
To establish safety first, I will confront the rise in violent crime in our community by concentrating resources in the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office on those crimes, sending a clear signal that those who break the law will face consequences for their actions and working with partners to address crime at its core. We cannot prosecute those cases unless the perpetrators are apprehended, and the crimes are investigated. That’s why we must rebuild our office’s relationships with local police departments and help police and prosecutors build trust with community members. Public safety is the foundation that thriving communities are built on. Businesses invest in safe communities. Successful families live in safe communities. And safe communities help alleviate inequality. I will work diligently to rebuild this foundation across Hennepin County.
Ensuring safety for all means that it doesn’t matter where you live, how much money you make, or the color of your skin; you deserve to feel safe in your community. Unfortunately, the hard truth is that crime has increased drastically over the last two years in Hennepin County, and that crime has hit minorities and historically underserved communities the hardest.
Public safety is a public service, and these communities deserve greater investment. Defunding the police in practice is not a transformative move in favor of racial equity. Rather, it is a return to the disinvestment and neglect that minority and immigrant communities have experienced for centuries. That’s why the majority of Black residents, including myself, did not support defunding. I will work to create a system where greater investment in public safety is paired with greater oversight, accountability, and fairer consequences, with a focus on alternatives to incarceration for people who deserve a second chance.
Safety for all goes beyond criminal prosecution; I will ensure that women are protected against unjust regulation of their bodies, fight to provide underserved communities justice if mistreated by police, and fight for workers treated unfairly by their employers.
We advance safety for all by prosecuting crimes that have been committed and also addressing the root causes of criminal behavior. Just as if I was back as a nurse treating a patient, we need to deal with both the systemic problem and the open wound. I will make it a priority to collaborate with community organizations, religious groups, local governments, and community members to address the root cause of criminal behavior and establish better systems for crime prevention.
We can and must work together to build a justice system that reduces rising crime rates, is more just and equitable, and works with the community, not against it. Together, we can build a system that provides safety first and safety for all.