OPINION | Barb Johnson responds

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As the race for the 4th Ward City Council seat begins, the challenges and opportunities facing our neighborhoods are being discussed. I welcome this discussion, and want to respond to some recent comments in this newspaper.

I was born and grew up in North Minneapolis. It has always been a diverse area and that is part of what makes our neighborhoods such wonderful places to live. I grew up in the 50s and 60s as a neighbor and friend to people of all backgrounds and races and attended socially diverse schools. My experiences, even as a child, have helped shape me as a person and as a leader. In my public service, I have continually reached out to all my constituents, and have served all who have asked for my help, including one of my political opponents. To suggest, as your recent article did, that I do not care or have neglected 4th Ward residents is simply untrue and I am deeply disturbed by these allegations.

The Debate
The TC Daily Planet published two articles from the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, one of our community media partners, on June 26. The Daily Planet asked Barb Johnson to respond to these articles, and this letter is her response to our request. The two previous articles are:

Mpls. Fourth Ward “dynasty” challenged
and
Harcus: “I have a superior field plan”

My political opponents have raised the issue of my family, particularly my mother, and her service to the City and to North Minneapolis. I could not be more proud of that tradition of service. My mother, Alice Rainville, was a tireless advocate for the City of Minneapolis and the residents of the 4th Ward. We are Northsiders who have committed our lives to standing up for our area as a whole and for our neighbors as individuals. I have used her example in my own life, yet I have established my own record of service to my neighbors and community.

The changes that have occurred in the 4th Ward and on the North side are part of the life of a great city and I welcome that progress with open arms. It saddens me to think that my opponents have seized on differences which simply don’t exist for the sake of politics. This is due to the fact they have failed to build campaigns on issues that matter to residents of the 4th Ward. Baseless personal attacks don’t build parks, don’t support education and certainly don’t fight crime in our community. These are the issues I remain committed to working on every day and I invite a vigorous campaign in which the real issues facing our diverse community are discussed.

I am proud of my record serving the residents of the 4th Ward. Through the work of the council I have worked hard to reduce crime in our neighborhoods, and bring predatory real estate brokers to justice. I have assisted with economic development that has produced hundreds of jobs in our community. The success of Impact Mailing and the Minneapolis Business Center are just two examples of many. I have worked hard on improving water quality in the Mississippi River and in Shingle Creek, and have insisted on substantial improvements to the housing choices in our neighborhoods.

In these times of great uncertainty, I know, as do my neighbors that what the 4th Ward needs, now more than ever, is proven experience from a trusted neighbor. As always, my door is open and I welcome any resident’s questions or comments.

Barb Johnson is president of the Minneapolis City Council, where she represents the 4th Ward.

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