An open letter to ward 11 council member


Ward 11 Council Member Emily Koski,

As neighbors in the Ward 11 communities you represent, we have great concerns about your actions on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023.
First, you repeatedly voted against measures to protect Little Earth and other impacted neighbors in the East Phillips communities from the environmentally hazardous demolition of the Roof Depot building. Then, you followed up these harmful votes by filing a police report against the neighbors who expressed anger and disappointment at your votes. You did not use your role and access to power to help these community members facilitate a conversation with the Mayor or other public officials who could help them. You used your power and privilege to insist that those in attendance be punished for their reactions to your harm. Then you went to the media about it, as the Star Tribune article from Feb.24, 2023 shows. This is how you show up as an elected official.
This way of holding space for community members is vastly different from the community care and community safety that we discussed at the conversation that you attended with staff on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023 hosted by Ward Eleven Allied Voices for Equity (WEAVE). This event, created by and for Ward 11 neighbors, highlighted how relationships are key for creating trust and healing in our communities. Not everyone there was in agreement about a vision for our city, but we all were committed to hearing one another and addressing the divides in our city together.
Had you chosen to bring forth some of the ideas of right relationship and generative conflict that were discussed at WEAVE’s event, you may have acted by reaching out to your colleagues on the council who represent the impacted communities or leaders of EPNI and sharing your concerns about the language or behavior that caused you to feel threatened.
Perhaps you all could have used restorative practices to heal the broken relationship and distrust that is currently present in your interactions. Your choice to involve police continues the breakdown of relationship and distrust in our elected officials. We don’t need more barriers between us. Yet you repeatedly choose barriers and the erasure of groups and communities that do not align with your viewpoints.
During your campaign and tenure, the divisions in our city have widened, and distrust of city officials has heightened. Many in Ward 11 were impacted by the divisive mailers that flooded our mailboxes during the campaign in 2021, and left us feeling as though our voices and concerns were not valued in this community. Since taking office, you have failed to take opportunities to expand and move forward on assurances that you made during your campaign to promote equity and healing in the city of Minneapolis. You have not been transparent about your voting record and the reasoning behind your votes. Some of your colleagues share detailed reports in their constituent emails of what is happening at council and the votes they take and why. As the neighbors you represent, we deserve to know how you are showing up to vote and whose values and vision of Minneapolis you are upholding.
As your neighbors, we are signing on to this letter to demand that you shift your current path of harm, divisiveness, ambiguity and fear to one of right relationship, healing, clarity and repair. We will be watching your votes and actions as both a representative and candidate, and expect you to be transparent, honest, and willing to move though discomfort without causing additional harm to already marginalized communities in Minneapolis. With the Ward 11 caucus coming up and several of us signed up as delegates, we will be paying close attention to whether your actions are in alignment with our endorsement. Here are three actionable items that you can take towards healing and repairing relationships in our ward and city:

1. Show your work.
Your newsletter with city news does not give Ward 11 neighbors the information we deserve about how you represent us. Your constituents need to know how you are voting to determine whose interests you are promoting at city hall. Your newsletter should offer a weekly record of your votes, and information about how you plan to vote on upcoming issues and why.

2. Show your learning.
On Feb. 8, 2023, you attended the Ward Eleven Allied Voices for Equity (WEAVE) Conversation on Community Care and Community Safety. This event was attended by other neighbors and community members who are committed to having the deep discussions necessary to promote healing in our city. What did you take away from this meeting? You did not mention the meeting in your newsletter or share feedback with the organizers. Going forward, we expect that when you take part in a meeting, conference or other training that you share with your constituents what you learned, and how it will impact your work representing our community and city.

3. Show your values.
During your campaign and in emails to constituents you have described yourself as a connector and bridge. Your actions on Feb. 23, 2023, show that when those harmed by your decisions express anger and outrage, you walked out of the room and closed the door behind you. Filing a police report against Indigenous activists from a marginalized community that is system-involved at disproportionate rates is not in alignment with the actions of someone who values connection and care. Living into the values you proclaim requires accountability and right relationship with community.
Clearly, this relationship is damaged. Going forward, we ask that you maintain all relationships equally, both with your constituents and other city communities affected by your votes in council. We ask that you are honest about your impacts, and right-size these with the discomfort you face. Acknowledge the power in your role, and the opportunities that you have to be a two-way connector and bridge across divides – not a drawbridge that goes up and down depending on who the community is on the other side.
We promise to continue to pay attention and act to help you align the way you represent Ward 11 with a fair and just vision for all of Minneapolis,
Ward 11 constituents and community members:
Rebecca Donley, Hale
Anne E Wagemaker, Hale
Theresa Dolata, Windom
Kate Vickery, Hale
Maggie Anderson, Northrop
Henry Bishop, Wenonah
Virginia Zaunbrecher, Hale
Catherine Iliff, Wenonah
Katharine Krueger, Windom
Aneesa Parks, Hale
Maggie Rittenhouse, Tangletown
Lindsay Bacher, Tangletown
Byron Richard, Tangletown
Sharon Thomas, Hale
Molly Leutz, Tangletown
Amy Kennedy, Page
Joan Flaaten, Page
Lauren Mathews, Page
Robert Reed, Northrop
Noelle, Northrop
Gregory King, Hale
Elizabeth Brophey, Wenonah
Stefanie Hollmichel, Wenonah
Dirk Nicholson, Tangletown
Rita Ayers, Tangletown
James Weber, Keewaydin
Karn Anderson, Tangletown

*Matthew Beckler, Wenonah
Kyle Shelton, Hale
Sarah Matthews, Wenonah
Candace Linares, Field
Elizabeth Stiras, Keewaydin
Heather Paulson, Windom
Kerstin Larson, Northrup
Emily Newhall, Hale
Kelly Milkus, Field
Erin Thompson, Tangletown
Tess Korbesmeyer Holman, Hale
Tiffany Kurtz, Windom

Learn more about WEAVE – Ward Eleven Allied Voices for Equity – on their Facebook page.

*Editor's note: More people signed on to the letter after it was published in our print editions. The additions start at the *.


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