Brooklyn Center City Council
Sizi Goyah: ‘The city needs to lead… We need to think outside the box’
October 25, 2020
By Steve Share, Minneapolis Labor Review editor
BROOKLYN CENTER —We can’t always outsource our responsibility to the state or the county,” says Sizi Goyah, candidate for Brooklyn Center City Council At Large. “The city needs to lead… We need to think outside the box and be out there front and center for our residents.”
Goyah is running with the endorsement of the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, AFL-CIO and the DFL Party.
His other labor endorsements include Education Minnesota Osseo, the Laborers District Council, and the Minneapolis Building and Construction Trades Council.
Goyah is a math teacher at Brooklyn Center High School and an active member of Education Minnesota.
The MRLF also has endorsed another union member running for Brooklyn Center City Council At Large, Alfreda Daniels, who is a community organizer for the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation and a member of Teamsters Local 120.
Goyah and Daniels 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.
Goyah offers his experience as a math teacher and as an electrical engineer as good background for serving on the city council.
“As a mathematician, I’m very analytical. Numbers don’t lie,” he says. “As an engineer, it’s about trial and error. You keep making corrections.”
As a city council member, “you talk to your residents,” Goyah continues. “You find out what they need and you go back to your lab, which is the city council.” Then you develop a product — a city program or policy — and keep testing it to see if it works. “It’s not a finished product,” he emphasizes. “We have to always go back and make corrections so that it works for everybody.”
But right now, Goyah believes, making sure Brooklyn Center’s local government “works for everybody” is not happening.
For starters, city council members hold office hours at city hall — and aren’t very accessible. Goyah asks, “how can we get city hall to the people? How can we take the city council to the barbershop, to the churches, to the mosques?”
Goyah also says a recently-passed city property tax levy for the 2020-2021 budget is “tone deaf” and needs to be stopped.
The tax increase, he says, “sends the wrong message” to residents who have lost their jobs during the current economic crisis. “How do you increase taxes in the middle of a pandemic?”
Goyah notes that many local residents work in the hospitality industry, which has been particularly hard-hit during this time.
“I worry about my neighbors — are they going to be able to pay for rent or mortgages or become homeless? …What is the city going to do?” One stop-gap solution he’s advocating: extending a moratorium on evictions.
Goyah believes the current city leadership is stuck and is not making the necessary investments or implementing the policies that will move Brooklyn Center forward. He says on his website: “Our city, like many other municipalities, suffers from political inertia and is in need of a sustained, people centered, force to change its trajectory to ensure growth and the collective success of all of our residents.”
Goyah maintains that Brooklyn Center, with its location and diverse population, should be doing more to attract businesses which pay living-wage jobs and also should be doing more to support affordable housing.
An immigrant from Liberia, Goyah was working as an electrical engineer and volunteering as a math tutor in the community when he realized that teaching was his true calling. He adds, “I felt that the students needed me and my experience to bridge the gap between school and home.”
Goyah had earned a Bachelor of Science in Math and Engineering at Texas Tech University in 2005 and went back to school to earn a Masters of Arts in Education at Augsburg University in 2020.
Goyah has been a math teacher at Brooklyn Center High School for the past nine years and is a member of his teachers union, Education Minnesota Brooklyn Center.
He moved from Blaine to Brooklyn Center, he notes, because he wanted to teach and live in the same community — “so parents could hold me accountable in real time” when they might encounter him outside of school at the store or elsewhere in the community.
“I am fully involved with Education Minnesota,” Goya reports. He has been a building steward for his local for three years. He also serves on Education Minnesota’s statewide Ethnic Minority Affairs Committee, whose members are appointed by Education Minnesota’s president.
“I am a proud union member. I will always be a proud member,” Goyah says.
He notes that he came from a country without unions.
“Unions are the reason for the employees to have respect and dignity,” Goyah says. “I am always grateful for the work of the labor unions… I stand on the shoulders of giants.”