Open letter from the undersigned to Sen. Bobby Joe Champion and constituents of the 5th Congressional District of Minnesota
Those of us that have affixed our names to this document either live or work in the 5th District and are fully aware of your contributions as a legislative leader to improve our lives and fight for the issues of justice that are critical to society.
We acknowledge receipt of your letter indicating that for the good of the community, in an overcrowded field of candidates, you have decided to suspend your candidacy for the open 5th District Congressional seat. Senator, your thoughtfulness in this matter is consistent with your record of selfless service.
This correspondence is to notify you that we do not accept your suspension of your candidacy for election to U.S. Congress representing Minnesota District 5. We urge you to stand for election, and we need all that truly care about the issues of justice and excellence in the legislative process to make every effort to assure that Bobby Joe Champion becomes our next representative in Congress.
The why of our position is critical.
Senator Champion, you have served in the Minnesota Legislature for over 10 years. Your constituency as state senator is, indeed, a cross section of the 5th Congressional District. The business people of downtown Minneapolis and some of the wealthiest citizens of our town have sought your advocacy, and in you, the least powerful also find protection of their interests. You respond as a champion. You serve all the people with integrity and compassion.
You have not been missing in action on any of the compelling issues of our times. Whether the matter was highly controversial or nuanced to slide by undetected, you put in the time and stood in the storm to serve those who put their trust in you.
You were responsible for convincing Gov. Mark Dayton to visit North Minneapolis with his cabinet. They heard firsthand the challenges that resulted from disparities in income and wealth that fell disproportionately on zip codes 55411 and 55412. That visit led to a year’s-long process resulting in the 2016 passage of a $35 million equity funding bill that you guided through the legislature, winning support and admiration from Republicans and Democrats alike. Some 30-40 community agencies led by people of color received critical funding, and thousands of people got jobs or more educational opportunity thanks to you.
While others ran for cover, you stepped forward and wrestled with the financing of the Vikings stadium. This enabled revitalization of an important area while creating employment for 13,000 people that they might provide for their families. You instituted goals of at least 32% minority and 6% women workforce participation on the project. People of color that were not involved in the old structure now own and operate concessions in the new stadium.
You chief authored the expungement legislation explaining that people deserve a chance to be re-enfranchised with the most fundamental power that defines our democracy – the right to vote.
You championed ban-the-box efforts at the legislature, advocating that people, who have atoned for their transgressions against society, deserve a right to be considered for gainful employment as a pathway to productive citizenship. You were in the forefront to provide drivers licenses to all while also fighting for transportation, education, small business supports, and e-college education.
Most recently, when the distribution of the equity dollars by a state agency was cut off so that hundreds of folks that needed services were denied, you alone stepped up to speak truth to power and call for fairness in the process.
For this act of courage some now seek to punish you.
To ignore your service and experience and the inspirational story of your life, is an insult to our community and a callous act of disregard to achieve, in congress, the best service of our needs.
We value your leadership and your service. We declare that we will now fight for you and for ourselves. We deserve and demand the skills and dedication you embody.
Run, Bobby, run. Let’s work, community. Let’s work. Let’s vote, community. Vote.
Alfred Babington-Johnson Byron Graham Javonta Patton
Al McFarlane Joseph D. Avent, III Cindy Booker
Ravi Norman Anna Babington-Johnson Lisa Clemmons
Bishop Richard Howell Anthony Morley Freddie English
Rev. Jerry McAfee Marie Graham Rev. William Pierce
Sylvia Amos Bridgette Shepherd Rev. Dr. Billy Russell
Symone Patton Jocelyn Campbell Teto Wilson
Ora Hokes Tammy Willis Al Flowers
Bill English Bishop Fred Washington Eric Mahmoud
Rev. Charles Graham Carolyn H. Best Menia Buckner
Natasha Hollowell Dr. Harvey Linder Wanda Curry