Meet the Candidate: Jonathan Healy (MN)

15 mins read

Jonathan Healy- Minnesota – Robbinsdale Ward 3 City Council

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.

I have volunteered with various organizations over the years, between being on an advisory board for Minneapolis College, Robbinsdale Charter Commission, and the Robbinsdale Human Rights Commission. I was elected and served three terms on the Cleveland Neighborhood Association Board in Minneapolis just across Victory Memorial Parkway from Robbinsdale. Since our long-serving Ward 3 council member isn’t running for reelection, I see serving on the Robbinsdale City Council as the next logical step. I am not a career politician, and I don’t aspire to office beyond our City Council. I am a progressive, pro-choice, and openly-gay, but in Robbinsdale we pride ourselves on a non-partisan City Council and I vow to help keep it that way.

In my professional career I am a User Experience Designer, which means that I design digital interfaces (websites and apps) that are easy to use. Special care is taken to make my designs accessible for people with various levels of ability as a matter of equity for those with colorblindness, reduced or no vision, cognitive impairment, reduced motor function, etc. This work has led me to get involved in local government, as a lot of important information on local government websites is difficult to find, use, or understand.

I’ve been interested in public policy since I was a little kid. I remember excitedly watching the 1992 election coverage when I was 10, and every election cycle since. While the other candidates have vague platitudes, blank pages, or even recipes on their brochures, I have put a lot of thought into my policies. My policy platform is on my brochures,, Facebook, and Twitter. It’s important that candidates respect voters enough to have actual policies to run on and that they make them readily available. You deserve to know what we would work for if elected.

Why are you running for office?

I’m a problem solver. In my job as a User Experience Designer, I rework broken or confusing processes and make them a better and more accessible experience for users. I want to do that for Robbinsdale’s city services. In the three terms I was elected to and served on the Cleveland Neighborhood Board, I served roughly 3,000 constituents. Ward 3 has roughly 3,600 constituents. During my time on the board, I was able to help people and improve their lives, and I see public service as an important way to give back to the community I’ve enjoyed for many years. After moving to Robbinsdale, I have kept a list of quirks and frustrations with city services — or the lack of some city services — that we should have, and I’m convinced that there are creative solutions.

What are the three biggest issues facing your community?

Waste pickup from Waste Management is the biggest pressing issue, as we have had years of poor or missing service. Waste Management refuses to provide the pay and working conditions needed to retain and attract workers. As they admitted, workers want to work 8 or 9 hour shifts, but Waste Management is requiring them to work up to 14 hour shifts a day, so workers are getting burnt out and quitting. Waste Management has lost a third of their drivers for the northwest metro area since the end of March.

We need more safety. Crime has increased during the pandemic, in large part due to the Minneapolis Police Department’s refusal to properly protect and serve North Minneapolis, which is the majority minority quadrant of Minneapolis that borders Robbinsdale. The programs in Minneapolis that kept people out of the system were defunded decades ago. On normal days, there are only four cops in the entire area of North Minneapolis, and if you do need them they could show up in an hour or just now show up at all. People are left to try to resolve their disputes themselves, which in some cases can make matters worse.

Prices have spiraled, but wages haven’t kept pace. Robbinsdale is at the state minimum wage of $10.33 for large employers or $8.42 otherwise. In order to earn triple the average rent in the city — $1,295 — the household needs to make at least $22/hour working full time. The city is becoming increasingly unaffordable for workers. Workers shouldn’t make $5 less an hour working in Robbinsdale compared to Minneapolis and St. Paul.

How do you propose to solve those problems?

We must restore reliable waste pickup after years of poor or missing service. We need to fire Waste Management and replace them with good local union labor.

We need more safety. We need to keep Birdtown walkable through traffic enforcement, traffic calming methods like flexible bollards, a lower 25mph speed limit at parks, and increased patrols to reduce crime. We also need to make sure that our police are serving all of the public, so one of my policies is to require documentation of police interactions with marginalized communities.

We need to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour to support our workers, phased in over 8 years, so that people can afford to live and shop here. I wish we could move faster, but minimum wage increases are always phased in so that businesses can adjust and plan ahead for their overhead costs. As shown in the many times the minimum wage has been increased, productivity goes up and staff turnover goes down.

What is your stance on environmental and climate concerns that are facing your community?

In Feb 2022, Robbinsdale Mayor Blonigan declared a Climate Emergency to seek resources to fight Climate Change. I’m a Sierra Club North Star Chapter member & I care deeply about the environment & environmental justice. Crises like this disproportionately harm poor & marginalized communities.

But it’s not enough to ask for help, we must act. It’s not enough to support obvious things like LED bulbs, No Mow May, and bike paths. I have actual policies:

1) Allocate 5% of capital improvement project budgets to renewable energy in the city.

2) Solar streetlights. When new ones are added or old ones replaced, let’s do the right thing and power them with renewable energy.

3) Pollinator-friendly plants. The Robbinsdale city govt shouldn’t install sod (shallow roots require lots of water/die easily). The environmental solution is clover (drought tolerant, supports bees & handles heavy traffic) or bee lawns (grass/low growing flower mix). *Encouraged but not required for residents/businesses.*

4) Expand recycling to keep things like batteries out of landfills.

5) Add recycling bins at City Hall. I couldn’t find a recycling bin during the Ward3 League of Women Voters of Minnesota Forum on 6/27, so I took a pop can home with me. Embarrassing.

6) Seek to join Hennepin Recycling Group (Crystal, Brooklyn Center, & New Hope)

7) Subsidize compost bins & rain barrels. Rain barrels help protect our lakes & reduce pollution

8 ) Make organics recycling easy so people actually do it

9) Reduce or eliminate use of pesticides

10) Continue cleaning Crystal Lake of pollution/phosphorous, & reduce how much of Minneapolis’ trash/silt/sand ends up in our lake (which has no outlet). The lake was listed as “impaired” in 2002, and we must return the lake to the pristine water quality level it was a century ago.

What commonsense gun safety measures would have the most impact on your community?

There is very little that can be done about gun violence at the Robbinsdale City Council level. Most gun owners are responsible and I support the right to have guns, while also balancing the right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness that we should all have — safe from violence.

We need a culture of gun safety in Robbinsdale:
1) No firearm access for kids & those at risk of harming themselves/others
2) Gun safety training to obtain purchase permit
3) Safe and secure gun storage
4) Keep guns away from schools
5) Regular security audits of Bill’s Gun Shop

How would criminal justice reforms impact your community?

Over the past few years, the police have been understaffed and haven’t been enforcing traffic, our noise ordinance, or other laws enough. Being understaffed also makes it more difficult for them to get the training on topics like racial bias and LGBTQIA they need to be the best at their job. I am thankful that our police department is much less problematic than the Minneapolis Police Department, though while door knocking I have heard voters recall events that indicate racial profiling is an issue. At a recent Robbinsdale Human RIghts Commission meeting, we met with police officers to see how to advise the City Council on reducing actual or perceived police bias. The officers do not currently document the demographic information of those they interact with unless they give out a citation. That must change. We need to have the data so that we can see where we are at and then form appropriate metrics to meet and determine tactics.

How would you work to protect a woman’s reproductive health?

I firmly support the right to choose. A voter in my ward (Robbinsdale Ward 3) reached out to me asking what can be done to protect women & those who can become pregnant as they seek medical care–including abortion–at the medical clinic in Robbinsdale. I donated to Pro-Choice Minnesota, and I urge you to do as well.

Organizations that support Reproductive Rights also need volunteers. I offered to escort those going to our Robbinsdale Clinic for medical care. I expect we’ll see far more people needing access to abortion from out of state. They deserve empathy, safety & privacy.

If elected to Birdtown City Council, I’ll advocate for:

1) Greater police presence near the clinic. I’ve knocked on over 1,000 doors in ward 3, including almost 600 (598 but who’s counting) apartment units along West Broadway. Near Robbinsdale Clinic, the biggest issue renters brought up was safety. We need a more visible police presence on West Broadway, both to make the area safer for pedestrians / cyclists / drivers with traffic enforcement, but also to protect people from assault (violence/threat of violence). Increased police enforcement should reduce harassment.

2) Adding a Birdtown city website page with each care facility & the actual services they offer (North Memorial hospital might be exempted or need their own subpage). Since the crisis pregnancy center website is intentionally misleading, I want to reduce how many people are tricked into going to the wrong location that is across the street and much easier to find.

3) Adding a sign near the clinic that notifies people that we have a city provision against lurking (2005.11) and that it will be enforced. Make sure the police enforce it near the clinic.

4) Amending the noise regulation (2005.15) to add a provision that loud noises with the intent to harass people are against the law.

What measures would you advocate to ensure that your constituents have the right to vote?

There is not much that can be done at the municipal level. I support automatic voter registration, voter rights returned to those who have served their time in prison, Ranked Choice Voting, and holding elected leaders accountable.

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