I’m Jillia Pessenda, and I am running for the Minneapolis City Council to bring all the voices of Ward 1 residents to the table, including students who live in the Como neighborhood.
When I was earning my Bachelor’s degree in Theatre Arts & Dance at the University of Minnesota, that’s where I lived. I know the struggle it can be to pay rent and tuition. Working as a server, I held several jobs to make ends meet. Keeping Minneapolis an affordable place to live and fighting for workers’ rights will be two of my top priorities when elected.
My love of politics and co-governance stems from the first protest I attended with my mom when I was in elementary school. Folks were speaking out against the closing of public schools in our working-class Duluth neighborhood. As a result of community members making their voices heard, our high school stayed open. This made a big impression on me — I saw firsthand the power of people and elected leaders working together to find solutions to the problems we face.
I took that experience to heart and have been actively involved in making our city and state a better place to live for all of us. In 2011, I joined Occupy Homes Minnesota to fight unjust foreclosures against some of the largest banks in the country; in 2013, I worked on the campaign to win marriage equality for same-sex couples and in 2014, I was part of the coalition that advocated for passage of the most comprehensive anti-bullying bill in the country.
In the past year, I have talked with thousands of residents in Ward 1 about our concerns — and hopes — for our community and our city. Over and over again, people have told me they want to be represented by a leader who will fight for them and put their interests first, not big business.
As your City Council member, justice and equity will guide my work. With your support, we can tackle the racial disparities that are so prevalent and demand more accountability from the police. We can fight to protect the air we breathe and the water we drink. We can invest in mental health resources for those in need, and also improve public transportation and make our streets safer for people who travel on foot and on bikes.
I’m proud to be endorsed by MYDFL, Our Revolution, the Sierra Club and State Rep. Ilhan Omar, DFL-Minneapolis, to name just a few (visit jilliaforwardone.com to see the others).
“Democracy” comes from a Greek word that literally means “rule of the people.” And that is what my campaign is all about: the power to make our voices heard. Together, we can address the challenges we face and work to lift everyone up so no one is left behind.
On Tuesday, Nov. 7, I urge you to rank me as your first choice when you vote for City Council in Ward 1.
This letter has been lightly edited for clarity and style.
Jillia Pessenda is a Minneapolis City Council candidate for Ward 1, which covers Windom Park, Northeast Park and parts of Como. She is running against incumbent Kevin Reich.