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Letters: Mark Andrew Owes Native Community an Apology
Monday, October 21 2013
 
Written by Peggy Flanagan,
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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."

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