About Council Member Alondra Cano:
hen she was elected, Alondra said this to Minnesota Public Radio: “My entire life, I’ve worked on efforts to make sure the diverse communities of Minneapolis and Minnesota were engaged, empowered and served by the various institutions that govern us.” She added, “I’m humbled. I’m excited. I’m ready to serve.
In 2013 Alondra was elected to the 13-member Minneapolis City Council. Alondra is the first Latina/o elected to the City Council. In the same historic election, voters also elected Blong Yang, the first Hmong Council Member, and Abdi Warsame, the first Somali Council Member. Alondra serves on the youngest and most diverse City Council in the history of the City of Minneapolis.
Before her election to the City Council, Alondra served as a legislative aide to then Minneapolis City Council Vice President Robert Lilligren and she managed the Multilingual Communications Division at the Minneapolis Public Schools.
Alondra also served as an activist, a community organizer, and later the Associate Director of the Minnesota Immigrant Freedom Network. At the Freedom Network, Alondra worked on a wide range of social and racial equity issues facing Latino immigrants and undocumented students. Alondra advocated for comprehensive immigration reform, and she worked to enact the Minnesota Dream Act at the Minnesota Legislature. The Dream Act gives undocumented Latino students better access to higher education in Minnesota.
As a Council Member, Alondra represents Minneapolis’ Ninth Ward. The Ninth Ward is located in the heart of Minneapolis and is the most diverse Ward in the City with nearly 30,000 residents including the largest urban American Indian population, the largest Latino population, a strong East African community and a progressive LGBTQ community.
Alondra was born in Litchfield, Minnesota and spent her early years in Chihuahua Mexico before returning to Minnesota at the age of 10. Alondra attended the University of Minnesota where she became a student activist. During a sit-in protest to keep the General College open, Alondra was arrested and handcuffed along with fellow activist.
Alondra has “deep roots and a long history in Minneapolis, fighting for student and immigrant rights”. Alondra passionately works to empower disenfranchised communities, to address issues of racial equity, as well as social and environmental justice in Minneapolis.
On Racial Equity:
Council Member Cano responded to both our survey and our request for an interview. Click on the questions below to read her responses.
+ How has the city’s adoption of a racial equity framework impacted both policy-making and the internal practices of the city enterprise?
The City's adoption of a racial equity framework has helped us to more consistently analyze the impact of policies through a racial equity lens, something which was missing before. As a codified and adopted framework, this strengthens our ability to infuse policies with (if not apriority) at least a nod to racial equity outcomes and impacts. This does not always happen of course, because of the political majority on the Council (who sometimes doesn't want to prioritize a racial equity framework). The internal practices have now been shifting, slowly, towards understanding, embracing and institutionalizing a racial equity culture within the programs, practices and policies of departments and staff's work. But because this is such a new endeavour with little staff expertise currently on board with this it is like working to grease up a rusty old bike chain. It will take alot of focus, dedicated time and resources to get the institution to understand, deepend and refine it's racial equity strategies and change the color blind mindframe.
+ How have hiring practices changed to reflect a racial equity framework since January 2014?
I am not aware of any HR practices that have changed to reflect this framework but I will ask HR to see if they can share an update with me on this front. We have an implicit biased training program for MPD officers but that doesn't impact future hiring decisions, that only works to develop the current workforce we have. We are working to remove the rule of 3 within the City's hiring practice however it is unclear how that will open up the field to more candidates of color. I will do more research on this front. The Elections Department recently added culturally specific staff to help with elections efforts however I am not sure I would qualify that as a hiring practice, I see that more as a programmatic effort and restructuring of services prioritization which then required a call for more POC to be hired. It was more of a singular program approach than a city-wide hiring practice change.
+ How has the city engaged with its marginalized communities around important issues and decision-making?
The City as an enterprise uses the Neighborhood and Community Relations Department to engage communities of color on specific issues. These issues get picked by the NCR leadership and Council leadership. For example, NCR did use their list-serv and engagement arms on multilingual radio to talk about the paid sick ordinance. The other way the City engages under-represented communities is through each individual Council office. Our office has played a key role in getting the word out to communities of color about important issues, but it is not a systemic commitment or practice that is consistent that the City has. I can elaborate more on this in person regarding the City's Language Access Plan, the notices we give for public hearings, and the City's social media accounts. We should also discuss the recent round of engagement efforts by the workplace Partnership Group with multilingual audiences, the Comp Plan's community engagement plan, and the artists engagement work lead by Gulgun and the Roadmap.
+ What are you most proud of having accomplished since January 2014 to advance racial equity in Minneapolis?
- Roof Depot
- Green Zones
- Indigenous Peoples Day
- Paid Sick Ordinance
- Shutting down the $600,000 investment in more policing efforts in 4th precinct (the investment should've gone to community, not policing or building more police buildings)
- Racial equity investments through the Parks funding ordinance
- Restoring funding to clean energy, One Minneapolis, diverse homeownership efforts through #LatteLevy
- Securing NEA grant for East Lake Street to impact Comp Plan
- Min wage study
- Saving Mercado Central
- Addressing sex trafficking in Indigenous communities through root cause/asset based approach
- Cultural Corridors (establishing a framework with the Comp Plan process for adoption)
- Renters Rights and funding to Home Line
- Working to elevate the negative impacts of gentrification and asking staff to address it, coupled with affordable housing protections for POC
engagement strategy would be a welcome opportunity.