Letters: Mark Andrew Owes Native Community an Apology

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I‘ve spent the majority of my career working to increase civic

engagement in Native American communities. I believe in this work

passionately and see it as a significant part of my vocation. That’s

why my heart was overflowing due to the incredible turnout of

hundreds of members of our community to the Minneapolis American

Indian Mayoral Forum sponsored by the Native American Community

Development Institute on Oct. 17.

Unfortunately, much of that joy was overshadowed by the fact that

Minneapolis mayoral candidate Mark Andrew didn’t attend the forum. He

promised he’d be there – weeks before – and then canceled at the

last minute and sent staffers instead. We asked his staff where he

was and they could not tell us. We have waited for an explanation

from Mark Andrew. We have heard nothing.

Tragically, the American Indian community is used to broken

promises by politicians. My hope was that this forum would provide an

opportunity for all candidates to engage in an honest, open and

direct dialogue with our community. Mark Andrew’s absence felt like

political “business as usual” and only serves to exacerbate the

distrust between Native people and local government.

In politics and in life, actions speak louder than words. Mark

Andrew’s absence from the first ever Minneapolis American Indian

Mayoral Forum speaks volumes. The American Indian community deserves

an apology and an explanation from Mark Andrew.

Peggy Flanagan

White Earth Band of Ojibwe

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Editor’s Note: The Mark Andrew for Minneapolis Mayor campaign issued the following as an apology , which was the statement read by Andrew’s field director at the Minneapolis American Indian Mayoral Forum on Oct. 17.

"October 17, 2013

"Dear friends,

"It is with regret that I can’t join you this evening to discuss

the issues facing our city and our communities. I’ll briefly share my

priorities, some of my background, and my hopes to collaborate with

you in the future.

If elected my priority is to make our great city great for

everyone. As a proven progressive leader I will:

  • Improve our schools and wipe out the opportunity gap

  • Invest in basic services like street repair, snow removal and

    neighborhood safety

  • Create jobs by using economic development to encourage

    entrepreneurs and attract employers

  • Make Minneapolis the greenest city – it’s good for the

    environment and sparks economic development and jobs.

"The opportunity and education gaps, public safety, jobs and

economic growth, and environmentalism – let’s make our great city

great for everyone.

"Minneapolis is a modern day Tale of Two Cities. We must confront

the racial and economic disparities that we have tolerated for too

long. The racial gaps in educational achievement, graduation rates,

employment, housing and criminal justice rates are not acceptable and

are, frankly, scandalous. It’s a call to action for me and for

everyone who believes Minneapolis can do better.

"Celebrating our city’s cultural diversity while honoring each

unique community’s values, resilience and culture are critical in

ensuring a strong future for Minneapolis.

"Very briefly – about me: I was born and raised in Minneapolis,

was educated in our public schools, and our children were too. We did

alright. I want everyone in Minneapolis to have the same

opportunities I have had here.

"I am a collaborative leader who understands that the best

solutions come from outside city hall. Having served on the Hennepin

County Board for 16 years, I have the experience to get things done.

Whether it’s quadrupling child care funding or reestablishing

reproductive health services for women at Hennepin County Medical

Center, or leading the way on the light rail transit and the Midtown

Greenway, to connect all parts of our city, I am all about

collaboration and bringing people together. While I’m here I want to

congratulate you on your voter engagement work in the “Make Voting

a Tradition” project. It’s all about making sure every voice is

heard.

"If elected, I look forward to working with you to bring our city

forward.

"My name is Mark Andrew and I ask for your first choice vote on

November 5."