|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.
White Earth Band of Ojibwe
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
"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
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
"If elected, I look forward to working with you to bring our city
"My name is Mark Andrew and I ask for your first choice vote on