Minneapolis City Council
Don’t just talk inequality, ‘bring resources’
From the Minneapolis Labor Review, October 27, 2017
By Steve Share, editor, Minneapolis Labor Review
MINNEAPOLIS —Don’t just talk about inequality — “bring resources, bring infrastructure,” says Abdi Warsame. “We should do better in making the city more equal.”
Warsame is running for re-election to a second Minneapolis city council term representing Ward 6, which includes the inner-city neighborhoods of Stevens Square, Elliot Park, Cedar Riverside, Seward, Ventura Village and Phillips West neighborhoods.
Warsame is endorsed by the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, AFL-CIO and the Minneapolis DFL Party. “I support the unions — that’s why I have the endorsement of every union in the city,” Warsame says.
Warsame is proud of the historic city council votes to pass a $15 minimum wage and earned sick and safe time. “The $15 wage will touch a lot of people in the ward,” he says.
For sick and safe time, “I did a lot of work behind-the-scenes,” he says. “I worked to get a consensus on the council and get a 13-0 vote… I’m very proud of that…” The 13-0 vote was important, he says, because it sent a message to the community about the measure’s strong support. “The fact that workers don’t have sick time off in the 21st century is disturbing.”
‘It’s important to have unions to build a strong middle class.’
In his first term, Warsame says, he worked to develop good relationships with other elected officials at Hennepin County, school board, park board and state legislature — and with other community partners.
The result: “I’m very proud of the money we put in my ward,” he says.
CommonBond Communities invested $50 million in the Seward East and Seward West residential towers “to rehabilitate every single unit… and make sure they stay affordable — for the next 30 years,” he notes.
The 6,000 square-foot Cedar-Riverside Opportunity Center opened in March 2017, located near the Brian Coyle Community Center, and represents a collaboration between the county, city and nonprofit Emerge. “It employs people and it’s training people as well,” Warsame says.
Warsame highlights the historic investment the City and Park Board agreed to make in infrastructure and parks. In Cedar-Riverside, he reports now, roads are being repaved and new, improved lighting installed. “It looks like a brand-new city,” he says.
“My own life experience has always been where I go back to,” says Warsame, who was born in Somalia and then raised and educated in England. There he saw the importance of public housing and strong safety nets. “When I lived in London, I was a very proud supporter of the Labor Party,” he adds.
“I’m a big supporter of unions and I’ll be a champion of unions and the right of workers to organize,” says Warsame. “It’s important to have unions to build a strong middle class.”
In one long-running campaign in Ward 6, “I’ve supported the workers at the Franklin Street Bakery and their right to organize,” he says.
For Warsame, the goal is “striving to build things and bridge cultures.” In running for re-election, “I want to build upon the experience I’ve had. Now we can double-down on building infrastructure.”