If you are looking for a councilmember that has passion and is willing to do what it takes to get community members organized and stand up for THEMSELVES against injustices by holding our local institutions accountable, then I’m your candidate! The primary reason that I’m running for Ward 1 city council is that I’m tired of politicians using poverty as an excuse to not engage disenfranchised communities.
Prior to election day, I have been indiscriminately doorknocking for the last 21 days straight reaching out to some of the disenfranchised communities in ward 1 (while wearing my frog hat! 🐸) While other politicians virtue signal/advertise to politically active people and seek the endorsements of other politicians/citizens, I have been reaching out to all citizens directly including those that have been ignored, forgotten, and have given up on local politics entirely.
From these discussions with residents from all background, I was able to synthesize a simple message. The government’s primary role is to provide public service and improve the “quality of life” for ALL residents, with the core values being community safety, personal security, belonging, and civic engagement (i.e. your voice is being heard). Majority of citizens can grasp that the government CANNOT give you belonging (or ‘buy’ it), but it has to come from their own participation. In addition, citizens are able to acknowledge their own personal benefits, and how they contribute to the larger picture by building relationships because “YOU MATTER!”
In disenfranchised communities, the first and foremost priority is community safety. I am appalled by the living conditions that residents have to endure, an apt metaphor is that these people/families are living in cages. It should be safe for citizens to go outside, especially for children to be able to play outside. If residents do not “take back the streets”, the residents/families will become further isolated from each other, which will prevent community bonds from forming (likely replaced with resentment, often racial), which is crucial for diverse first generation families. Long-term exposure to violence have numerous detrimental impacts on individual resident, and how the community develops. Many of the residents I have spoken to are apathetic and/or frustrated toward local politics because their community is becoming less safe (or at least perceived), while their property taxes continue to increase!? The primary solution that I advocate for the residents is take back the streets, by residents working together, and being intentional in putting “eyes on the street”. Community safety is just one example of community members getting together to advocate for a cause. Though how do we accomplish this?
For the more educated, I have done the data analysis of our local elections, outlined the systemic inequities, and provided the appropriate solution within the attached infographic (blue). In one sentence, I would like to create an application that facilitates community engagement and civic engagement and it is citizen-centered designed for ALL ages and languages. Young people are despondent trying to change national politics, while there is a lot of local victories that can be achieved. The groundwork for organizing and institutional support will be provided by the district planning councils.
Finally, let’s talk about the ‘amphibian’ in the room. I’m running as self-proclaimed superhero to connect intergenerationally by appealing to both parents and children. For children, they often enjoy superheroes on tv, and the movies. We can role model to youth on what a local superhero does and how their actions impact people. Finally, it is absolutely amazing to be able to connect with both the adults and children at the same time while doorknocking as you are connecting with the entire family. I have reached the point, that people do not recognize me without the frog hat, it has become my identity. We need to transform how we do elections if we want to attract a wider range of audiences and empower people that don’t fit the ‘traditional’ role to run for office.
If my vision, charisma, and/or message resonates with you, please vote for me as your #1 choice (#2 is okay too). Please share to others with friends; the grassroots method is by word of mouth i.e. VOTE FOR THE FROGMAN!
Website Letter Link: https://abunayeem.com/2019/11/05/election-letter-to-citizen/
My report on local inequities in elections: https://abunayeem.com/2019/11/02/how-can-we-make-local-elections-matter-to-people-in-saint-paul/
Abu Nayeem aka Frogtown Crusader
P.S. I also advocate ‘No Vote” for the trash referendum, you can read more about my position on the website.