Crystal City Council
David Cummings: ‘At all levels of government, we need to focus on racial equity’
October 26, 2020
By Steve Share, Minneapolis Labor Review editor
CRYSTAL — “It’s clear at all levels of government, we need to focus on racial equity,” says union member David Cummings, candidate for Crystal City Council Ward 4. “All levels of government need to tackle it if we’re going to make a difference.”
Cummings 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 and the Laborers District Council.
Cummings is a special education teacher for the Osseo Area Schools and a member of Education Minnesota Osseo.
Two current Crystal City Council members also have endorsed Cummings: John Budziszewski (Ward 3) and Therese Kiser (Ward 1).
Crystal’s Ward 4 runs across the northern part of the city, roughly located north of 54th Ave. (to the west of Bottineau Blvd.) and north of the Canadian Pacific railroad tracks (to the east of Bottineau Blvd).
The Ward 4 incumbent is not running for re-election.
In the three-candidate primary, Cummings came in first with 53.9 percent of the vote. (The primary vote total for all three candidates, however, was only 833 votes and many more people will be voting in the general election).
Cummings ran two years ago for the Crystal City Council’s Section II seat, which covers a larger area. He lost by 10 percentage points, but says he learned a lot from that race.
In that race two years ago, Cummings ran making the issue of re-establishing Crystal’s Human Rights Commission a main issue of his campaign. (The city disbanded it in 2015).
Re-establishing Crystal’s Human Rights Commission is again one of Cummings’ top priorities for this year’s campaign. “In the northwest metro, we’re one of the only cities that doesn’t have one,” he says. “With everything going on… it seems like a really important thing to be looking at right now… Voices that are wanting to be heard are not being heard.”
Cummings adds that “the Crystal City Council needs to empower this commission by supporting and implementing their recommendations.”
Supporting light rail is another of Cummings’ top priorities. “Crystal needs to be a strong advocate for the Metro Blue Line extension,” he says. “It will be a jobs and economic development catalyst, and a needed transportation option for Crystal.”
Cummings, who is currently the vice chair of Crystal’s Environmental Quality Commission, also wants to see the city do more at the local level to address climate change.
Cummings explains why he’s running for elected office. “I’ve always been interested in politics… The last several years have taught me that just learning about it isn’t enough… It’s important for people to run for office, volunteer with campaigns… put that energy forward.”
Cummings has lived in Crystal for nine years, moving there because his wife-to-be had bought a house in the community.
Cummings grew up in Chanhassen and earned a B.A. in social studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth. “I wanted to be a history teacher and to help kids,” he says.
Social studies teaching jobs were hard to find when he graduated, however, so he shifted to teaching special education.
“It’s a high area of need,” he says. “I feel like I’m contributing to a high area of need and really making a difference in students’ lives.”
In teaching special ed, he likes the smaller class sizes and being more involved with his students and his students’ families, too. “Especially with high school, you get to know them over four years,” he says.
Cummings has been teaching at Park Center Senior High for the Osseo Area Schools for the past six years. He previously taught for the Elk River school system.
He is active in his union and was selected to participate in Education Minnesota’s Early Career Leadership Fellowship, a program to develop new union leaders.
Cummings also was selected this year as one of two candidates for the Minnesota AFL-CIO’s Union Member Candidate Pilot Program. This new initiative is modeled after a successful program in New Jersey, which has helped more than 1,000 union members win elected office over the past 20 years.
The Minnesota program offered candidate training and ongoing support for Cummings and Sheila Webb, candidate for Robbinsdale City Council Ward 2. “It was really great,” Cummings said. “For me, it affirmed what I was doing.”
Cummings is a fourth-generation union member. His mother was a member of the Minnesota Nurses Association. And his grandfather and great grandfather were members of the National Association of Letter Carriers.
“I think people take unions for granted,” Cummings says. “I think it’s important to remember they’re serving the interests of people. People take for granted all the things unions have done in the past and are doing now to help everyday people.”