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Updated: Nov 14, 2022

ACER Community Organizer Richard Jennis testifies before House Redistricting Committee

On September 13, 2021, the Minnesota House of Representatives held a virtual committee meeting on the redistricting of District 3, comprising all or parts of the cities of Brooklyn Park, Coon Rapids, Bloomington, Eden Prairie, Edina, Maple Grove, Plymouth, Minnetonka and Wyzetta. Redistricting will affect the lives of over 730,000 residents living in the district. With such a large number of residents being impacted by this process, it’s important that these residents' voices are heard loudly and clearly.

According to State Demographer, Susan Brower, District 3 grew the most in population size relative to other districts. In 2010, when the last census was taken the district had about 662,990 residents. Ten years later, the census recorded 737,898 people living in District 3. Each congressional district comprises approximately the same population size. According to the State Demographer, the “ideal” congressional district has a population size of about 713,000 residents. This means that the growth in Congressional District 3 will likely result in a shrinking of the district’s physical size, should public officials choose to go forward with redistricting.

With the likely coming changes to the district, our Community Organizer, Richard Jennis, attended the virtual committee meeting to advocate on behalf of residents in the northwest suburbs. Here is part of Richard’s statement before the Committee:

“My first consideration is how the districts are being mapped. Sometimes communities with common interests and similar investments are divided. Brooklyn Park & Brooklyn Center, for instance, have similarly diverse populations and a number of common resources, such as churches, mosques, small businesses and shops that are essential in both communities. Other northwestern suburbs of Minneapolis including Crystal, Robbinsdale, and New Hope are also connected by common locations and interests. I recommend to everyone here that in the redistricting process these communities stay together so that they can elect officials that understand and represent their needs and so that issues unique to these communities can be collectively addressed.”

Richard touched on the problems facing less affluent neighborhoods including apartments with pests infestations, little to no security, and totally unresponsive or retaliatory management. “All too often underprivileged areas are overlooked by local governments while more affluent communities receive the benefit of government attention and policy,” Richard explained to the committee. He urged government officials to go out “on the ground” and engage with these communities. Richard spoke on the need for governments to deal with predatory landlords and ensure proper assistance in section 8 housing. He notes how, in this history of organizing, he’s heard stories of renters in the less affluent northwest Minneapolis suburbs being refused rental assistance while renters in more affluent suburbs around Minneapolis receive assistance from the government.

Lastly, Richard pressed public officials to set aside ideological differences and reject political gamesmanship in order to focus on addressing the needs of the underprivileged in the Northwest of Minneapolis:

“The temptation is often to divide districts according to what serves the political parties or the mappers or according to some agreement. The maps are often drawn in bizarre meandering forms in order to throw certain members into convenient districts or to increase the possibility of certain political outcomes. I am asking that the primary consideration for redistricting be the community alignments and common interests, the unique needs of each area, and the opportunity for individuals with long overlooked needs to political unity within those districts.”

We at ACER are proud of Richard’s continued advocacy and commitment to our community. Watch the full Committee meeting here.

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