Hennepin County Board
‘Someone who’s going to fight for everyday families’
From the Minneapolis Labor Review, September 25, 2020
By Steve Share, Minneapolis Labor Review editor
NEW HOPE — With a $2.5 billion budget, “the county board has the power to change lives,” says De’Vonna Pittman.
Pittman is running for the District 1 seat on the Hennepin County Board with the endorsement of the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, AFL-CIO.
District 1 includes Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Crystal, New Hope, Osseo, and Robbinsdale.
The longtime incumbent, Mike Opat, first was elected in 1992 and chose to not run for re-election this year.
Pittman’s other labor endorsements include AFSCME Council 5 and Teamsters Joint Council 32.
She also has been endorsed by the Hennepin County DFL.
Pittman’s résumé includes 18 years working for Hennepin County in a variety of roles in administration, corrections, housing, community development and transit. She is currently a project coordinator focused on disparity reduction.
“I have worked directly with leadership and with the people who work on the ground,” she says.
The aim of Pittman’s campaign, she says, is “making sure people are represented and their voices are at the table.”
Pittman adds, “we need someone who’s going to fight for everyday families. That’s who I am.”
If elected, Pittman says, one priority will be getting the Bottineau light rail project back on track — which recently has encountered some setbacks. “The goal is to connect people to jobs and housing,” she emphasizes. Moving forward, she adds, decisions and planning need to do a better job considering and engaging “the people who need the line the most.”
“I would like to see the Blue Line happen,” she says. “I would like to go back to the drawing board.”
With the current COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis, “people are really going to be struggling,” she says. “People have lost their jobs.”
“Prior to the pandemic, there were these really vibrant conversations about the opportunity to create green jobs,” she says. “The conversation was about making sure our workforce was ready for the jobs that were coming.”
Now she says, workforce development programs — and affordable housing — will be more important than ever.
Come 2021, “it’s going to be a challenging year,” Pittman knows. “That’s why we need to have people on that board who have a heart for what needs to happen.”
Pittman grew up in the Chicago area, where her father was a union electrician and her brothers were union laborers.
She came to the Twin Cities in 1992, encouraged by a friend who said jobs were available. Her first job here: working at a White Castle.
Pittman went on to earn her degree in Criminal Justice from Metropolitan State University and later earned her Master’s of Science in Law Enforcement Leadership from the University of St. Thomas.
Pittman has lived in new Hope for the past 12 years. She and her husband have a blended family of four adult children and now two grandchildren, ages 3 and 7.
“Although I haven’t been a member of a union, I have benefited from union members’ fight for fair wages and healthcare,” Pittman says. “I strongly consider myself right there with the union folks.”