Al McFarlane: One of the things I appreciated about you, Congressman Ellison, was your simple but powerful impactful decision to locate your District office in North Minneapolis. Your office was a great tenant, a good paying tenant, for the Minneapolis Urban League’s headquarters building, the Glover-Sudduth Center for Community and Economic Development at the corner of Plymouth & Penn, the heart of Minneapolis’ Black community.
You accomplished several things by doing this. Number one, the Urban League itself was under financial siege. There were policy considerations, I believe, political considerations that made it difficult for organizations like that, legacy organizations, to get and keep and sustain revenues to promote the programs that they had been providing to our community.
Your decision to locate your office, to be a tenant that paid rent, who could pay the rent-
Keith Ellison: On time.
Al McFarlane: ... on time for duration of your terms in Congress was a powerful and sustaining decision. So, I want to applaud you for that because that's really the nuts and bolts of the whole thing.
Al McFarlane: How do we create the kind of transactions that complicate our lives and our communities in a positive way, that build multi-layered networks and relationships that you can count on. You've done that. How will that translate into what you will likely do as a large employer at the state Capitol?
Keith Ellison: We've got two office locations. I hope to have more than that, but for now, we've got two. We were in the Capitol, right across the hall from the Governor's office.
Then we have eight floors in the Bremer Building.
Currently, the Attorney General has about 340 employees and about 130 lawyers. We need more lawyers and we need more staff.
Al McFarlane: How do you get that? What's the mechanism for getting the money to get more?
Keith Ellison: State legislature. I think there's an important case to be made. There's no shortage of consumers being taken advantage of our there. There's no shortage of wages being stolen, wage theft. There's no shortage of people in small counties out in greater Minnesota who need extra help. That's what they're telling me. We certainly need more community engagement, so people can really feel the benefit of their institution and make a personal relationship and connection with the Attorney General's office. That's a case I will make to the state legislature.
That's why I'm going to be working with Democrats and Republicans, helping them understand that there's no Republican or Democratic way to make sure that a senior citizen does not get ripped off by some slick talking sales person on the phone trying to get her into a financial product she cannot afford, and end up with her house being taken away.
So, we're going to make that case. And we're going to have a strong, durable relationship in the Attorney General's office that can sustain political shifts, because I plan on being there for a while. We have to have relationships on both sides of the aisle.