The values I’ve learned here have shaped my life working for Bloomington.
I’ve lived in Bloomington my entire life, and I’m proud to be a product of our Bloomington Public Schools. My Mom taught math at Normandale Community College for 39 years, and my Dad, who someone once described to me as “the last honest attorney”, had his office here too. I am incredibly lucky to be married to my best friend in the whole world, my wife Charity, and to be a Dad to Eleanor and Adeline.
I earned my BA in Music and Political Science from St Olaf College, and my MPA in Health, Housing, and Education Policy Leadership from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the U of M, where I had the chance to study early childhood education with Art Rolnick, and education law and policy with former State Senator Steve Kelley. For 10 legislative sessions, I have worked at the Minnesota Senate, working for and with our Bloomington legislators, as well as researching and supporting important progressive priorities. I’ve seen how the levers move at the legislature, and how important it is to have our community’s values and voices respected and represented in the halls of power.
Serving our community is a joy and an honor – and I am thrilled to continue doing so.
I was elected to my first term on the Bloomington City Council in 2017, and re-elected last year. I’ve represented our community on the 169 Corridor Coalition, the State Community Health Services Advisory Committee, the Bloomington Housing and Redevelopment Authority, and the Artistry Board. I am proud of the work we’ve done in the City of Bloomington, and ready and eager to bring this leadership to the State Capitol.
Budgets and Taxes – Budgets are the truest expressions of our values. Budgeting requires thoughtfulness and responsibility, but it also requires us to center our shared priorities. Minnesotans remember the reckless tax cuts of the Pawlenty era and the work that was required to bring us back from them. We need to be crystal clear that our budget and tax priorities should be focused where they will do the most good, supporting middle-class Minnesotans, not rewarding the people and businesses who are already more than well-off. That means investing in the things that have always made Minnesota a great place to call home – early childhood, K-12, and higher education, services for folks with disabilities, strong consumer and environmental protections, and infrastructure. “Trickle-down economics” has been an utter failure every time it’s been tried, and we don’t need to try it again to prove it.
Choice – Justice Ginsburg once said, “The decision whether or not to bear a child is central to a woman’s life, to her well-being, and dignity. It is a decision she must make for herself. When the government controls that decision for her, she is being treated as less than a full adult human responsible for her own choices.” Across the country, and here in Minnesota, we are seeing attacks on a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions, and it is simply wrong. The choice to have an abortion or not is a deeply personal one, and is no place for the government to interfere. I am and always will be pro-choice, and will stand against any efforts to remove that power of choice from women.
Economic Opportunity and Stability – Too many Minnesotans had their backs up against the wall before the pandemic, and it’s only gotten worse. As we continue to navigate these challenges, we have an opportunity to rebuild an economy that works for everyone. But we have to choose to do so. In 2022, there is simply no reason that every working Minnesotan should not have access to paid family and medical leave, and earned sick and safe leave. I am proud of the work I’ve done to bring earned sick and safe leave to Bloomington, and firmly believe that if we can do it for the Mall of America, we can do it for Minnesota. We also need to ensure that the jobs that we create are community-supporting jobs – the kind that someone can raise a family on, and retire from. As the son of a teacher and the grandson of a Teamster, I am committed to fighting for everyone’s right to join a union and come together to advocate for themselves. Having worked a job where I was literally unable to unionize, I can tell you: it matters. We are learning more and more every day how lack of affordable child care is holding us back, economically and socially. We need much stronger investments in the Child Care Assistance Program, better support for child care workers, and greater alignment between the state and counties.
Education – As the son and husband of a teacher, and a proud product of our Bloomington Public Schools, I’ve seen firsthand how critical a quality education is to our community. As someone who has studied education and worked directly with districts, parents, educators, and support staff, I know how important it is that we get it right. For far too long, our public schools have been drastically underfunded, and increasingly, they’ve become targets for proxy wars that are harmful to students and damaging to our communities. I simply will not support a budget that does not fund our public schools above inflation. You can count on me to work hard to ensure schools have the resources needed to succeed, that policies support students rather than target them, and that our state constitution’s requirement of a “thorough and efficient system of public schools throughout the state” is strengthened. That includes universal early childhood education, fully funding the special education cross-subsidy, closing our nation-leading opportunity gap, putting more counselors in schools, and making sure that every student who walks into our public schools has the opportunity and ability to go where their life takes them.
Energy and Environment – Climate change is an existential threat. We need bold action that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and puts us on a path to mitigating it – frankly, we needed it years ago. I was proud to support a resolution on the City Council declaring a climate emergency and committing the City of Bloomington to take those bold actions. The State of Minnesota can make bold energy infrastructure investments in electric vehicle charging stations and solar and wind facilities, and reduce the need for Minnesotans to drive cars everywhere they go. We have made it easier in Bloomington for residents to put solar panels on their homes, and are working to do so on city facilities. We’ve also adopted a Time of Sale Energy Disclosure ordinance, giving residents the information needed to make their own homes more energy efficient. The House DFL Climate Action Plan is an exciting proposal, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to advance it. There is absolutely no reason that we have to choose between good-paying jobs and protecting our environment, and we shouldn’t be stuck with this false dichotomy.
Health Care – Minnesota has one of the best health care systems in the country – if you’re lucky. But too many are not. Prescription drugs are too expensive, insurance is too expensive and too complicated, care is often inaccessible, and the result is a system that focuses on procedures and profits over people. Instead, we should be working toward a public system that empowers health care professionals to keep people healthy – not one that just lets insurance companies devise new and creative ways to make money at the expense of peoples’ lives. That also includes supporting the frontline workers that we’ve all hailed as heroes for the last two years by ensuring they are paid enough to actually support themselves and their families, and that staffing ratios and supports are strong enough.
Housing – Our entire state, and our community particularly, have long faced an affordable housing crisis. Home values and rents are skyrocketing well above many of our neighbors’ ability to afford them. It’s damaging to our economy, to our schools, and to the overall strength of our community. Bloomington has led the way on addressing this crisis, but more action at the state level is urgently needed. In Bloomington, our Opportunity Housing Ordinance has revolutionized how communities address affordable housing – not by giving developers a blank check, but by working with advocates, developers, and residents to get at the root causes of expensive housing, and expecting results for incentives. That’s the kind of leadership we need more of. We need a State Affordable Housing Trust Fund, greater investment of state bonding dollars, and policies that ensure that housing isn’t being pushed out simply because “we don’t want it here”.
LGBTQ+ Community – I will always be a proud ally to the LGBTQ+ community. On the Bloomington City Council, we have shown our support by banning the inhumane practice known as “conversion therapy”, and labeled it as it is: harmful and bunk science, and I hope we will do the same at the state level. I was thrilled to join our neighbors for Bloomington’s first Pride Festival last year, and look forward to many more to come. I will simply never understand the cruelty needed to target trans kids, but it is horrifying. Trans kids are kids, and should be able to live their lives just like every other – without fear of being excluded or separated from their parents because of who they are. One of the proudest moments in my professional career was being able to be on the floor of the Minnesota Senate as they voted to make marriage equality the law of the land, and I will do everything in my power to continue the progress we have seen for our LGBTQ+ neighbors.
Public Safety – Every Minnesotan deserves to feel safe in their home. But if the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that “safety” means many things to many people. Local governments should have the resources and ability to meet the needs and expectations of their communities, including resources to support mental and chemical health and keeping folks who shouldn’t be there in the first place out of the criminal justice system. But that also means critical oversight and proactive accountability. What we have seen in the Minneapolis Police Department didn’t happen by accident, and I am committed to working to ensure that it doesn’t happen anywhere else. We need to be extremely clear that there are real, systemic issues in law enforcement, and people of color, LGBTQ+ folks, and individuals with disabilities have long suffered. We need to address these issues comprehensively and thoughtfully. My family, like so many others, has felt the unbearable pain of losing someone to gun violence, and it is absolutely galling that proven solutions are not put in place. I will work to pass universal background checks and gun violence prevention orders. We owe it to our children to take every step we can to prevent the tragedies that have plagued too many communities.
Transportation and Infrastructure – The Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill is an immense and historic step, but it is only one step. Communities all over the state have significant infrastructure needs, and Bloomington is no different. I applaud Gov. Walz’s Local Jobs and Projects bill that includes our own Bloomington Public Health Building, ensuring that our fantastic public health staff can serve our community even better. Infrastructure investments create jobs and preserve communities. We can and should step to do everything we can to make them happen. The 494-35W interchange is the 17th worst bottleneck in the country, and its renovation is long overdue, but we can’t pretend that we can build our way out of these challenges simply by expanding highways. We need to expand transit options and walking and biking infrastructure. It is basic common sense, and more importantly, it’s what our community wants and needs.
Voting Rights – Free and fair elections are the foundation of our government. Ensuring that every Minnesotan is able to exercise their right to vote freely and easily is critically important now more than ever. If we cannot trust that our elections truly reflect the will of the people (even if we disagree with them), we damage the legitimacy of our government. I am appalled by efforts to disenfranchise Minnesotans, to strip away at our long history of easy ballot access, and to limit communities’ ability to speak with their whole voice. Trumped-up conspiracy theories and baseless claims should not decide who is able to exercise a fundamental constitutional right. I will fight against any attempts to subvert our democracy, and will work to ensure that every voter is able to participate.