Healthcare is a fundamental human right, but many patients find that healthcare is not affordable. The people of Minnesota deserve quality and affordable healthcare. I support a partnership of private-public funding for healthcare programs, such as preventative medicine for children and adults, prenatal care, and contraception for all people regardless of age, ethnicity, or income.
Rising rents are weighing heavily on working families and young renters who pay more than half their income on rent. Housing is neither adequate nor affordable for people of all ages. Many residential homes are aging and therefore classified as “housing-related hazards” that pose threats to residents’ health. Additionally, too many residents do not have access to government subsidized programs.
To address housing issues, I believe that public sector invests in affordable housing development and simultaneously provides housing assistance to low-income households through tax abatements, low-income housing tax credits, and multifamily housing bonds to raise capital for affordable housing construction and rehabilitation.
To minimize poverty and crime rates, I support government choice voucher programs with the concept of community residential choices. Eligible households pay 30% to 40% of their incomes for housing, and the programs pay the remainder directly to the landlords. This contributes government funds into the district’s economy. Voucher holders can find housing in affluent communities. This program includes landlord-tenant recruitment, housing search assistance, and pre-move-and-post-move counseling.
Crime rates have grown substantially due to the absence of a police station in District 67B. To deter crime, we need a police station in the area. We need to enforce the concept of “community policing.” This is an idea in which more partnerships and collaborations are built between police forces and communities to create trust and mutual assistance preventing crime, burglaries, and thefts. Additionally, each neighborhood should organize a “crime watch project” to monitor crimes in their areas.
The introduction of the police body camera system is a step in the right direction, but the State of Minnesota should do more to enforce the existing surveillance program to better hold police officers accountable for their actions.
District 67B is mainly residential with few large employers. What this means is that there are a disproportionate number of job-seekers in the area. There are not enough jobs within the district, or nearby, to economically sustain the residents. The district has an unemployment rate of 8.5%, which is almost double the rate of the state at large.
We need to fund training and re-training programs to help people transition from one line of work to another. We need to align job training with the needs of our community to create pathways for economic prosperity. In the district, many residential homes are over 40 years old and potentially unsafe. These homes can be targeted for remodeling which would create jobs and increase property values.
The spirit of small businesses and entrepreneurs must be emphasized with equality and accessibility to government small business loan programs.
The quality of St. Paul Public Schools district is unacceptable. Many students are failing in class. Achievement gaps in reading, math, college readiness, and other subject tests are challenging for both students and educators.
Closing achievement gaps in college readiness among all racial students and between students living in poverty and students living in affluent communities is another challenge for educators.
Shortage of teachers in content areas, such as science, math, and special education, is another educational crisis. Shortage of teacher diversity is another dimension of the issue as the student body becomes increasingly diverse.
To minimize the achievement gaps, as a professor, I believe in these approaches:
Supporting an authentic learning environment. This approach encourages students to learn through hands-on, collaborative experiences that address real problems. The federal GEAR UP program aims to do just that, but only one High School in St. Paul is funded through the Minnesota Office of Higher Education; funding needs to be expanded.
Fostering students’ non-cognitive skills. Focus must be paid to academic mindsets; learning strategies; and academic behaviors, such as academic persistence, self-discipline, focus, confidence, seeking help, and staying on task.
Collaborative efforts. More partnerships with researchers, parents, educators, and entrepreneurs should be established to deal with the educational challenges.
Public school prioritization. Educators should continue to make commitments in support of public schools and the importance of life-long learning.
Second chance for high school drop outs. Harding High School and its neighboring high schools should offer night classes to meet the needs of adult population so that they can be prepared for job readiness and economic self-sufficiency.