Climate justice is at the heart of Kate Knuth’s bid for mayor of Minneapolis

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The former state legislator and head of resilience sees progressive economic policies as an integral part of the fight against climate change.


While most kids love parades, Kate Knuth despised them. Shy growing up, Knuth saw them largely as overcrowded political events she had to go through: her father, Daniel, was a hydrologist turned Minnesota state legislator, and she recalled many photo ops for which she refused to smile. “It’s funny that I’m in politics now, but what stood out to me is that a good life is a life part of which is in the service of the community,” she told The Appeal.

Knuth followed in her father’s political footsteps when she served in the Minnesota State House of Representatives from 2007 to 2013. She is now one of five Democratic challengers trying to oust the outgoing mayor of Minneapolis , Jacob Frey. The crowd includes the community organizer Sheila Nezhad; old sailor Philippe Sturm; businessman and lawyer Marc Globus; and AJ impressed, co-executive director of the Cedar-Riverside Community Council, a predominantly black neighborhood represented by Ilhan Omar in the US House of Representatives. Knuth hopes to set himself apart by focusing on environmental justice as his touchstone problem.

“What I bring is this very strong commitment to move forward in the work of structural and transformative change, in particular with regard to public safety, in particular with regard to climate change,” he said. she declared. “Pair that with [my] the experience and sheer pleasure of working in large public institutions and working with them and through them to ensure that they serve what we deserve as a city is potentially very powerful and I think something that the people of this city would really appreciate.

The city coordinator appointed Knuth as the first Minneapolis resilience officer, a Position funded by the Rockefeller Foundation intended to increase climate resilience in 100 cities across the United States She began her work in June 2017 and resigned barely seven months later. Knuth says his decision to leave was due to a lack of alignment with Frey after he took office in January 2018. His take on the role “was to work through municipal government silos in conjunction with the community to get to the root of systemic challenges like systemic racism, dangerous wealth inequalities and inequitable climate impacts, ”she said. “Mayor Frey wanted to focus closely on housing. I was also concerned about the lack of listening from the staff and the community that I saw coming from the mayor, which in my opinion would have a negative impact on the success of the resilience work. “

For her, tackling climate change at the city of Minneapolis level is a matter of fairness. “As climate change intensifies, it increases the risks and those risks manifest themselves in different ways,” Knuth said. “If we don’t address inequalities and injustices, people who are already marginalized will be even more vulnerable to climate change. Neighborhoods with red lines – often predominantly black neighborhoods that were refused mortgages or loans afterwards and then sold – “are actually about 10 degrees warmer on the hottest days,” a- she said, citing an article from January 2020 study.

For Knuth, the answers lie in focusing on urban canopies, accessible green spaces, community cooling sites, and encouraging people to watch their neighbors. She would also like the city to put in place a targeted wealth development program for the black community to help people afford air conditioning and other heat mitigation strategies.

Climate change intersects with progressive economic policies for Knuth. “I think one of the best resilience strategies we can accomplish is for every family to have $ 500 in the bank,” she said. “Whether it’s a car breakdown or a power outage and loss of food, they’re better able to handle it. Does this sound like a climate policy? No, but if climate change increases the risks for the most vulnerable [communities] now or even more vulnerable [communities in the future], the overall decrease in vulnerability is very important in dealing with climate change. “

Knuth believes Minneapolis needs a “full-throated climate justice champion” as mayor because “the time demands it.” She envisions being a mayor who focuses not only on climate resilience strategies, but on their effective implementation through ministerial leadership, budget investments, and sweeping transparency around climate-driven decision-making in the world. everything from accommodation to transportation.

Frey and the city council have had a conflicted relationship, and Knuth believes the rift is bad for the city. “I think it’s really important to push back the narrative that counseling is problematic,” she said. Knuth sees city council as trying to lead on key issues: in 2019, council voted for declare a climate emergency, and he announced a pledge to dissolve the Minneapolis Police Department in 2020 after the murder of George Floyd, a decision that Frey criticized.

Frey’s controversial relationship with elected city officials, among other issues, prompted Knuth to think in January of running for mayor. “Especially last year, especially the last six weeks, there has been an absence” on Frey’s part, she said. “I also haven’t seen such a strong interest in the basic functioning of the city that I would like to see from my mayor.”

For Knuth, two of the central issues facing the city are police and homelessness, primarily how Minneapolis has handled the many homeless camps in city parks in suddenly dissolve them.

Knuth sees the settlements as the result of multiple issues including housing, mental health and addiction. “It’s very important to meet people where they are and to put resources into moving people to homes and accommodations that are right for them,” she says. “It’s not just a numbers game with so many units, so many people, problem solved.”

She considers that homeless neighbors are better served by mental health professionals than by armed police. Arrests under pretext, like the one that led an officer to shoot and kill Daunte Wright at the Brooklyn Center in April, is another area where Knuth believes the police should not be involved. She supports the of the municipal council and public efforts to amend the Minneapolis charter in order to eliminate and replace the police department.

“I hope to have the opportunity to create a public security service,” she said. “I want to help the city get through this time in a way that helps us move towards a more just, sustainable and resilient future,” adding that it makes no plans for what will happen if it doesn’t. . to win.



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