Hennepin County Board
Investments in transportation, environment, health will benefit all
From the Minneapolis Labor Review, October 16, 2020
By Steve Share, Minneapolis Labor Review editor
MAPLE GROVE — Kevin Anderson has been talking to a lot of folks in Hennepin County District 7. “I’ve heard repeatedly, ‘it’s hard to get things done at the County. We don’t have a partner at the County.’”
Anderson is running for the District 7 seat on the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners.
District 7 includes western and northwestern Hennepin County, stretching from St. Bonifacius on the south to Champlin on the north.
Anderson is running with the endorsement of the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, AFL-CIO. His other labor endorsements include AFSCME Council 5, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 292, Laborers District Council, Minneapolis Building and Construction Trades Council, North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters, Operating Engineers Local 49, and Teamsters Joint Council 32.
Anderson also is DFL-endorsed.
The District 7 incumbent, Jeff Johnson, who first was elected in 2008, is not running for re-election.
Anderson placed first in a three-way race in the non-partisan August 11 primary election. His opponent for the November 3 general election is incumbent Johnson’s longtime assistant.
Anderson is focusing on three issues in his race: transportation, health services, and the environment.
“When I think of the County, I think roads and bridges,” Anderson says. “When that job isn’t being done, somebody needs to stand up.”
District 7, he notes, is Hennepin County’s largest district in square miles. “It’s huge,” he says. But, he reports, “we get less than two percent of the transportation funding that Hennepin County allocates… That kind of imbalance translates to our roads being neglected.”
He adds: “if we could just balance that out, we would have jobs in this district.”
Road projects even go up to the District 7 border — and stop, he notes.
“If you’re not advocating for projects to get put in your district, you’re not going to get them,” Anderson says.
District 7 communities along the Interstate 94 corridor “are growing like gangbusters,” he observes. Transportation infrastructure needs to keep pace with that growth. “We need to start planning for the future.”
District 7’s rural areas and protected green spaces are one of its top attractions, notes Anderson. “We need to have leaders who will work to conserve and preserve our environment.”
“I grew up in a state park the first 10 years of my life,” he says — his father was the manager of Old Mill State Park in northwestern Minnesota. “When you grow up surrounded by nature… that’s something that becomes a part of you.”
Anderson wants to see Hennepin County play a strong role in maintaining water quality, combating invasive species, and doing its part to reduce impacts causing climate change.
With a mother who worked as a nurse, Anderson relates, “another thing that was baked-in to me — how do we take care of people?”
Hennepin County’s health and human services budget is $800 million plus, he notes, a major share of the overall budget. “If we try to invest more in our preventative services… we’ll have better outcomes.”
For example, he says, “Minnesota has one of the worst ratios of counselors to students” in the public schools. He’d like to see the county do more to partner with schools to provide services right where students and families are everyday.
“I would love to see it where we are building a society where we are actively looking out for each other,” Anderson says.
Anderson says his concern for the common good is rooted in his faith and also grew from his participation in ISAIAH, a nonpartisan coalition mobilizing faith communities to work for racial and economic justice in Minnesota. “It was through my faith that led me to advocate for labor and making sure people are paid fairly and have benefits and all the things that are important for every family across Minnesota.”
“Working people deserve a voice at the table and somebody who is going to speak out for them,” Anderson says.
Anderson has worked for 20 years in the information technology field. He lives in Maple Grove with his wife and four young children.