Tuesday July 6, 2021
BY Emalyn Muzzy
Meet the candidate who has worked with the city Council, lived in public housing and wants to be a community voice on the Council.
Yusra Arab poses for a portrait on July 4 in Minneapolis, Minn. Photo/ALICE BENNET
The Minnesota Daily sat down with Yusra Arab, one of the Ward 2 City Council candidates to talk about her policies and how she plans to bring more BIPOC representation to City Hall.
Tell me about yourself.
“My name is Yusra Arab, I’m a mother, an advocate and a Ward 2 resident. I went to high school in Washburn and graduated from the University of Minnesota with a political science degree. I have a 12-year-old daughter and I currently reside in the Southeast Como neighborhood.”
So you’re right over by the University?
“Yes, I’ve been out here since my days at the U. I’m an only child, which isn’t really typical in the East African family. I was raised by a single mother in public housing in St. Paul. I fled Somalia when I was around three, and I haven’t been back since. I’ve been in Minnesota for 23 years now.”
Why did you decide to run for City Council?
“I worked as a policy adviser in the sixth ward for four years and, to be quite honest with you, it was what I saw and experienced while at City Hall that prompted me to run. One of those things were the wide disparities that exist for BIPOC communities. The fact that we don’t really have a champion at City Hall. We have allies but we don’t have actual individuals who reflect the communities they serve, who are on those decision making teams.”
What big issues are you focusing on in your campaign?
“I’m a big supporter of affordable housing. I grew up in public housing and I remember the importance of my mom qualifying to get a voucher and how that helped us get out of poverty. And so, housing is a big issue to me and a personal issue. Public safety is another area. [I want] a more holistic approach to public safety, one that makes sure that all members of our community are protected equally … And environmental justice, and injustice, and making sure that communities of color, who historically were at a disadvantage when it comes to the environment, partake and are aware of what is on the table in finding sustainable solutions.”
What are your plans for dealing with policing and public safety?
“Police in its current form isn’t working … and we need to address it urgently. Our law enforcement officers should be held to the highest standard, they should be accountable for their actions.They should be appropriately trained, and they should be demilitarized, and they should be an extension of the communities they serve … Public safety is more than just police response. At least to me through public safety, ensures that individuals and communities have the resources and support needed to address critical societal thinkers. We need access to affordable housing, food security, clean and reliable transportation and accessible health care, including mental health.”
What are your plans for housing?
“[I will] continue to invest in affordable housing production and preservation, whether it’s in assistance with Minneapolis Public Housing Authority, making sure that public housing isn’t privatized and gentrified. One of my main priorities is advancing partnership opportunities with the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority and expanding the number of affordable housing units for residents at or below 30 AMI [Area Median Income] … I also prioritize the creation of pathways to support affordable homeownership, especially our BIPOC communities.”
This interview was lightly edited for length and clarity.