‘You're the antidote:' Gov.-elect Walz met by expectations in north Minneapolis

Gov.-elect Tim Walz’s promises to north Minneapolis residents were matched by their expectations for him during a listening session Friday afternoon.

“Please don’t think this is business as usual. Because if it is business as usual, you’re going to know very quickly,” Walz told a standing room-only crowd at the University of Minnesota Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center. “The thing about it is, there’s going to be no hiding from this.”

Walz is pledging to have an administration that’s more inclusive to north side residents. The message from dozens of community members to Walz and Lt. Gov-elect Peggy Flanagan on Friday was clear: prove it.

Many said they wanted to know how Walz would improve lives in their community in ways that previous governors had been unable to deliver.

“My community is allergic of bullets. My community is allergic to bullets from black on black crime to bullets coming out of police officers’ guns,” said John Thompson, a Minneapolis resident. “We gathered a lot of people to the booth to vote for you and Peggy because we believed you were the antibiotic.”

Some people wanted to know how Walz would address mass incarceration and economic inequality.

“We represent Minnesota, just like everyone else,” said Christian Allen Ray of the group Barbershops Creating Change. “We are a part of this great state. We need representation.”

Minneapolis resident Tess Montgomery asked Walz and Flanagan whether they would devote attention to a lack of healthy food options and implementing paid family leave.

“Especially for single mothers, six weeks unpaid is not good enough whatsoever,” Montgomery said.

Flanagan said she thought there was enough political will in the state legislature to implement paid leave.

“This is an issue that is of critical importance to our state and it’s overwhelmingly popular on both sides of the aisle,” Flanagan said.

Walz takes office Jan. 7 but his administration will take shape before that. There’s a Dec. 7 deadline to apply for top jobs in the administration, and a 29-member transition advisory council is suggesting names to the governor-elect.

Friday, one woman who had been incarcerated asked Walz why he hadn’t included on his advisory council anyone who’d been previously jailed, an issue Walz acknowledged.

“We feel like we’re the people impacted but the people most impacted by corrections are they people who are incarcerated, and so leaving that group out is unacceptable,” he said.

The visit came during the second day of a five-day tour across Minnesota. It’s the only stop that’s scheduled in Minneapolis.