Advocacy Encounters Politics – Part 1

This year the JLM Advocacy committee is presenting filmed and written Encounters with Advocacy.  It is our group’s mission to educate our member’s about what advocacy is, show how to be an advocate, and communicate how advocacy directly ties to the education gap.

In this series–Advocacy Encounters Politics–we are focusing in on what it means to be an advocate and spotlighting community leaders within that role who are participating in the upcoming election.  In weeks leading up to the election, our series will include posts from all candidates running for US House of Representatives District 2, MN Congress District 3, MN State Senate District 59. We have responses from three women currently running for office in Minnesota–Jennifer Carnahan, Paula Overby, and Terri Bonoff.  

Note that the JLM is a non-partisan organization. We do not endorse any candidate or political party. All candidates and their opponents were given the chance to do a video interview.  


Interview One: Jennifer Carnahan

What made you want to run for office?

I was adopted from Korea in 1977 and my parents raised me to believe that if I could ‘dream it’ I could ‘achieve it.’  And, since I was a young girl I’ve been chasing my dreams.  I’ve worked in sports marketing for the Minnesota Timberwolves and Florida Marlins; in corporate America for General Mills and Ecolab and now I’m chasing the real ‘American Dream’ – I own two start-up retail stores.  I’ve always been involved in my communities on a volunteer level and am passionate about the values and foundation on what it means to me to be a proud American Citizen.  I want to ensure that everyone is able to chase their dreams, the same way I was, and that is why I decided to run for office.
What do you most advocate for?

The two things I advocate for most are:  a strong economy and excellent education.  As a former Marketing Executive in the corporate world, I know how important it is to have strong companies that positively impact not only the national economy, but also impact their local communities.  When I worked at Ecolab, we we proud of the fact that we not only created thousands of jobs in Minnesota, but also donated to several foundations/charities and volunteered our time as employees at local organizations.  As a current start-up small business owner, I’m also proud to be a part of the backbone of America – in creating new jobs and representing the nearly 70% of people like me who through their entrepreneurial spirit will continue to employ many more Americans in years to come.

Education is the heartbeat of our country.  We have the best universities in this world, the smartest and brightest talent and drive a lot of the world’s innovation.  I believe its important that all children – no matter their race, gender, etc. – have equal opportunities to accessing a great education.  And, the K-12 level is where it starts.  If we let our students down at a young age, we only set them back further and further as they continue to move through grades and beyond high school.

What relevant legislation would you want people to know more about in regards to the education gap?
Minnesota has one of the worse achievement gaps in this country between students of color and not.  In Minnesota we need to address this with real answers and solutions.  The reasons for the achievement gap go much further than just students falling behind in studies.  The achievement gap is linked to the child’s overall basic needs and well being.  We need to ensure that students are: nourished, safe and healthy.  We need to ensure that students have strong role models, good teachers and are surrounded with opportunities to develop, receive additional educational resources and access to activities beyond the classroom:  sports, arts, music, theater, etc.  Regarding legislation around education, I think that legislators need to stop throwing money at programs that aren’t working and start investing in growing the programs that do work.  And, investing in allowing good teachers to thrive and succeed and enter the field to help educate and reduce the growing achievement gap.
What can we do we as a community to get more involved?
As a community, we need to continue to volunteer.  We need to give our time and energy into programs that are impacting kids, families and communities positively.  There is an organization in North Minneapolis called the Hospitality House. They are a great program that focuses on the spiritual, intellectual and physical development of youth and their families in North Minneapolis.  This program is a great place that directly helps impact and improve the achievement gap through their work. Its programs like these that we need to continue to invest in, participate in and listen to.
JLM Advocacy: Providing education to inspire members to meaningful action
To link to post 2, click here

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