Robbinsdale City Council
Sheila Webb: Equity should guide city budget and policies
October 27, 2020
By Steve Share, Minneapolis Labor Review editor
ROBBINSDALE — Talking about diversity, equity and inclusion, union member Sheila Webb is running for the Ward 2 seat on the Robbinsdale City Council. “This is not new for me,” she says. “I’ve been pushing this and advocating for this my whole career.”
Webb is running with the endorsement of the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, AFL-CIO and the DFL Party.
She also has been endorsed by the Laborers District Council.
Webb is a social worker for the Minneapolis Public Schools and is a member of Minneapolis Federation of Teachers Local 59.
Robbinsdale’s Ward 2 lies in the northeast corner of the city, roughly bordered by York Ave. on the east, the city limits on the north, Broadway Ave. and Bottineau Blvd. on the south, and a zig-zag boundary on the west extending north from the intersection of Bottineau Blvd. and 40th Ave. N.
In the five-candidate primary, Webb ran a very close second, trailing the top vote-getter by just 24 votes out of a total of 1,230 votes cast. So, for the general election, every vote is going to be important.
The longtime Ward 2 incumbent is not running.
Photos of the current City Council and Mayor on the City of Robbinsdale website are revealing. “There’s no diversity on that Council,” Webb says. “It’s an all-male, all-white Council. That’s not representative of Robbinsdale.” “Diversity is not just about black and white,” she adds, but also means including women, young people, and LGBT people.
“If you want to be redeveloping and progressing as a city, you also need to be progressing and making changes in leadership,” she says. “You can’t just have a ‘Black Lives Matter’ sign in your yard.”
Now a seven-year resident of Robbinsdale, Webb became the chair of Robbinsdale’s Human Rights Commission in January of this year and has served on the Commission for six years.
Following the murder of George Floyd, the Robbinsdale Human Rights Commission under Webb’s leadership convened a community forum with the Robbinsdale police chief and heard stories from community members about experiences with racism.
“My role is to push the voices of the people,” Webb says. “I’m all about… participation from people in the community.”
In deciding to run for Robbinsdale City Council, Webb says, “I was moved to do more with my experience… because that is my civic duty.”
Webb’s campaign website outlines her priority issues, including to “establish a city budget and policies that are guided by my values of equity and inclusion,” plus affordable housing, accessible transit and transportation, and more training for the police force in de-escalation and bias elimination.
Webb grew up in Chicago and in 1990 moved for better job opportunities to the Twin Cities, where her mother and two aunts were living. “I felt it would be a good change to come here,” she says.
Webb earned her undergraduate degree at Metropolitan State University and went on to earn a Masters Degree in Social Work from the University of Minnesota.
She is a licensed clinical social worker and is in her seventh year working for the Minneapolis Public Schools, currently working at Loring Community School — not too far from Robbinsdale at 2600 44th Ave. N.
She works with individual students and groups to teach empathy, conflict resolution, and how to be a good friend and citizen.
She also is the special ed leader at her school. “To me, every kid could use an Individualized Education Program, and some adults, too,” Webb comments.
“I support unions,” says Webb, who is a member of Minneapolis Federation of Teachers Local 59.
A labor union, Webb observes, is “a framework of collective voices. That’s what I want to see for the City of Robbinsdale.”
Webb 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 Webb and for David Cummings, candidate for Crystal City Council Ward 4.
“When you get backed by the labor unions, that’s big,” Webb says, “not only because of the support they offer but because of the education you get.”
In particular, she relates, she’s learned more about the issues and concerns of workers and unions in the construction industry. “I think it’s going to be valuable if issues come to the table.”
“I want to thank the unions for their support… and for their advocacy,” Webb says.
Webb and her husband have three adult children and eight grandchildren.