Brooklyn Center City Council
Alfreda Daniels: ‘Make sure the voices of the community are central in every decision’
October 24, 2020
By Steve Share, Minneapolis Labor Review editor
BROOKLYN CENTER — “I want to make sure the voices of the community are central in every decision that is made,” says Alfreda Daniels, candidate for Brooklyn Center City Council At Large. Right now, she says, there’s a “huge gap” in Brooklyn Center between the community and local elected officials.
Daniels is running with the endorsement of the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, AFL-CIO and the DFL Party. Her other labor endorsements include: AFSCME Council 5, IBEW Local 292, Minneapolis Building and Construction Trades Council, Minneapolis Federation of Teachers Local 59, Painters District Council 82, and Teamsters Local 120.
Daniels works as a community organizer for the MRLF and is a member of Teamsters Local 120.
The MRLF also has endorsed another union member running for Brooklyn Center City Council At Large, Sizi Goyah, who is a math teacher at Brooklyn Center High School and a member of Education Minnesota.
Daniels and Goyah are facing two incumbent city council members in the November 3 election. Voters will get to vote for two candidates and the top two vote-getters will be elected.
Daniels has spent the past 12 years working with Brooklyn Center residents as a community organizer.
At African Immigrant Services, she worked first as a volunteer and then as a staff organizer on education, social issues and immigration issues.
Since 2015, Daniels has worked as a community organizer for the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation.
Her MRLF organizing work has focused on the northwest suburbs. She helped to organize the Northwest Suburbs Community and Labor Collective, bringing community members and community organizations together with union members and labor unions to advance working families issues.
“I have a skill set to bring people together, to listen, and to find a solution together. That’s what our city needs and that’s why I’m running,” Daniels says.
“I think my skill as an organizer has helped my campaign a lot,” she adds. “It has helped me listen — to listen to what people want as opposed to what I think they want.”
In Brooklyn Center, she says, business as usual for the city does not bring the community into the decision-making process. “The city truly believes the way to engage people is to send out letters to them. A letter is not engagement… The purpose of engaging people is not to inform them but to honestly get their input” — and then use that input to guide decisions.
Daniels cites the current example of the city’s development plans for the “Opportunity Site” which includes the vacant Target and where the city envisions a new downtown. Planning has been in the works for five years, she says, but “the community just found out about it in the past year.”
This development, Daniels points out, will impact everyone in the city either positively or negatively. The city needs to meaningfully involve Brooklyn Center’s diverse community in these plans — “and truly take our time... not to create a plan and send it out and say, ‘what do you think?’ That’s imposing.”
Daniels’ website outlines her priorities for community policing, economic growth with livable wage jobs, and affordable housing for renters and homeowners.
In running for city council, Daniels and her campaign volunteers are out knocking on doors — while taking extra precautions because of the pandemic.”We just could not miss the opportunity” to talk directly with voters, she says. “As an organizer, that is what my strength is — having one-one-one conversations with people.”
Brooklyn Center is home to many immigrants and Daniels is among them. She is a native of Liberia but left at age 7 due to civil war. After time in a refugee camp in Ghana, she came to the United States as part of a refugee program. Daniels went on to graduate from Big Lake High School and later from St. Cloud State University, where she studied international relations, political science and human relations.
Newly-married, Daniels and her husband recently bought a home in Brooklyn Center — for many immigrants, a step that’s a key piece of the American Dream.
Daniels believes her lived experience as an immigrant and as a Black woman “can help me connect to people when they show up at city hall.”
“As a union member,” she adds, I’m going to be on the city council speaking for all union members, including myself.”