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Minneapolis City Council
Ward 4

Barb Johnson:
‘We need experienced leadership’

From the Minneapolis Labor Review, October 27, 2017

By Steve Share, editor, Minneapolis Labor Review

MINNEAPOLIS — “We’re in a crunch here and we need some experienced leadership to get us through what’s not a helpful dynamic at the state and federal level,” says Barb Johnson.

Johnson is running for a sixth term to represent the city’s northwest corner, Ward 4, on the Minneapolis city council.

The city council president since 2006, Johnson is endorsed by the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, AFL-CIO.

Her other labor endorsements include: AFSCME, Firefighters Local 82, Minnesota Nurses Association, Minneapolis Building and Construction Trades Council, Minneapolis Municipal Retirees Association, Operating Engineers Local 49, and Teamsters Joint Council 32.

“I’ve been a union member as a nurse and working in grocery stores,” Johnson says. “I know that union jobs have been what has produced middle class America.”

‘I’ve never been more optimistic about the future of the 4th Ward than now; I see a lot of positive things happening. I want to be around to be helpful with that.’

Photo of Barb Johnson

Johnson has been a stalwart ally on the city council for unions and working families.

As city council president, Johnson led the effort to forge a plan to build the new Vikings football stadium. “It’s been a big success as far as I’m concerned,” she says. As envisioned, the project led to private investment in the surrounding area. “We’re down to about two surface parking lots left in what used to be a sea of parking lots,” she notes, and the new development has generated almost $2 billion in property taxes — so far.

She emphasizes: “My decision to support the stadium was based on my feeling that a lot of my constituents would benefit.” She adds, “not just the construction jobs,” but ongoing jobs for maintenance, stagehands, vendors and others. “It was very important for me that the ongoing operations benefited the people in the 4th Ward,” she says.

Last year, Johnson also led in crafting a historic deal between the City and the Park Board to make a 20-year investment in city infrastructure and parks.

Johnson also led the city council as president as it debated and passed municipal policies for earned sick and safe time and a city $15 minimum wage.

“On the sick and safe time, I led the charge on the council to make that happen,” she says. “I knew sick and safe time was something the majority of the council would be supportive of and it ended up with a unanimous vote.”

Regarding minimum wage, “I give the advocates credit for raising the profile of how important this is,” she says. Now, she observes, major employers like Target are moving to a $15 minimum wage.

At the same time she’s been a leader city-wide, Johnson also has remained focused on issues concerning Ward 4. “I’ve got a lot of new single family home construction,” she reports, and “I’m seeing some of the commercial spaces that were vacant filling up also.”

Looking forward, she says, “the Upper Harbor is going to be a huge opportunity for north Minneapolis to change our relationship with the river and have a development that provides jobs and housing.”

“I’m excited about serving for another four years,” Johnson says. “I’ve never been more optimistic about the future of the 4th Ward than now; I see a lot of positive things happening. I want to be around to be helpful with that.”


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