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

What Can We Do to Boost Math and Science Statistics?

According to the National Math + Science Initiative, only 42% of fourth grade students and 35% of eighth grade students performed at or above the proficient level in mathematics in 2013. The National Math + Science Initiative also reported in the same year that only 44% of U.S. high school graduates are ready for college-level mathematics and only 36% of U.S. high school graduates are ready for college-level science. What do these statistics mean? It’s alarming that less than half of the United States’ population is performing at grade level and less than half are prepared for college-level math and science courses.

What can we do to help improve these statistics? The Junior League of Minneapolis (JLM) is actively working with students and parents through the H.O.M.E.S. (Hands-on Math, Engineering and Science) project. Students in grades K-5, along with their parents, are encouraged through positive learning associations and resources to explore STEM (science, technology, engineering & math) activities further at home. By increasing the interest in STEM among students and parents, this is addressing the achievement gap in Minnesota.

One of the easiest ways to help improve these staggering math and science statistics is by helping students have a positive association with math, science and engineering. When students are excited and curious about a subject, they are more inclined to work harder and have a passion for it. The STEM projects set forth by H.O.M.E.S. are hands-on, creative and a lot of fun! JLM members are encouraged to sign up for a shift. It’s the perfect way to spark the love of STEM learning with students and to help decrease the achievement gap in the Twin Cities.

By Katie Runman

Election 2014: Voter Resources

Minnesota Public Radio’s Select a Candidate Tool enables voters to learn which candidates are aligned with their views.

The Voting Information Project tool enables voters to determine their polling place, voter information and ballot issues.

JLM wants YOU to vote on Election Day!

It’s hard to believe we’re less than one week out from next Tuesday’s (Nov 4th) Midterm Elections.  This is a super important day for us to cash in on one of our rights and make an impact in our local, state and national government.

Some of you have been following the local and national coverage of this year’s election and know exactly who you’ll be voting for – to those, I salute you for your diligent preparation!  For others that have been changing the channel every time a campaign ad comes on the TV (and quite frankly that could be all of us), fear not! There is still time to learn about the candidates and issues to make an informed decision.

To help you out, below are some of the hot topics and big candidate races (nonpartisan, of course).  theSkimm (a fun and easy to understand news source) has a Midterm Election Guide and it’s geared toward those who aren’t in “the know”.

Hot Topics

  • The Senate.  The Democrats have controlled the Senate since 2006.  That plus Obama has its benefits, but the Republican party (also known as the Grand Old Party, i.e. GOP) has had enough.  If the Republicans gain control they will own both the Senate and Congress.
  • National topics haven’t changed much.  The state of our economy, immigration laws and foreign policy continue to be top of mind as voters head to the polls.
  • Minneapolis specific City Amendments:
    • Filing Fee for City Elected Offices.  Some city council members want to increase the price of entry to run for positions like mayor.  Remember when we had 20+ candidates running for mayor in 2013 including Captain Jack Sparrow? Yeah, some people don’t want that again.
    • 70/30 Liquor Licensing Requirement. Have you ever ordered a glass of wine in a South Minneapolis restaurant and been forced to also order food?  That’s because many restaurants are required under law to gross at least 70% of their sales from food.  Many believe this law is antiquated and stifles the growing restaurant scene in our neighborhoods (it also forces restaurants to increase their food prices).  Opponents say we need to keep our neighborhoods clean & quiet.

Minnesota Gubernatorial

  • Currently being held by Mark Dayton (D).
  • Who is running?
    • Mark Dayton (D) – The guy basically runs Minneapolis (think Borough, Askov Finlayson and old school Dayton-Hudson’s).  He wants to come back.
    • Jeff Johnson (R) – Not so fast Dayton! Jeff has is a former State Representative and current Hennepin County Commissioner.
    • Chris Holbrook (Libertarian)
    • Hannah Nicollet (Independent)
    • Chris Wright (Grassroots)

Minnesota Senate

  • Currently being held by Amy Klobuchar (D) and Al Franken (D).  Al Franken’s seat is currently up for election.
  • Who is running?
    • Al Franken (D) – Wants a re-election.
    • Mike McFadden (R) – Franken’s biggest threat to the seat.  He has worked in the financial sector prior to this campaign.
    • Steve Carlson (Independent)
    • Heather Johnson (Libertarian)

Minnesota Congress

  • Minnesota has 8 congressional districts and each district elects a representative to the House for a two-year term.
  • There are several districts that cover the Greater Twin Cities area given the dense population.  District 5 covers the majority of Minneapolis but depending on your home address you may be in District 2,3 or 4.

Other races include Secretary of State, Attorney General, State Auditor, State Representative, County Commissioner, County Attorney, Sheriff, School Board Director, Supreme Court Justice, Court of Appeals Judge and District Court Judge.  Phew, that was a lot.

You can also find more information by visiting the Minnesota Secretary of State website.

Sometimes it takes a little nudge to get involved and I hope this does the trick. Our only ask – get out there and VOTE!

Volunteer with Kids Voting Minneapolis

What: Help kids experience the democratic process at a young age. Answer questions and give instructions to students who are participating in “mock” voting.

Where: Minneapolis polling places. Kids Voting will be at 123 polling places across the city so we need lots of volunteers! We will do our best to schedule you at a polling place that is convenient to your home/work.

When: 3 hours on Election Day, November 4, 2014. A one hour training will take place before Election Day (Locations TBD).

Why: We believe that when kids can have an authentic voting experience at an early age, they are more likely to vote when they reach legal voting age. This is a one-time commitment but can significantly increase civic engagement in our community. Additionally, many volunteers return year after year because they really enjoy the experience. 

For more information:

If you are willing to volunteer, fill out this Google form so we can schedule you for a volunteer shift on Election Day.

Or contact our volunteer coordinator by emailing

Questions For Candidates: Advocacy Election Guide

Feel unprepared for the local legislator or candidate canvassing your neighborhood this election season?  Arm yourself with the following questions from the 2014 Advocacy Committee Election Guide!

  • How would you address the issue of the achievement gaps that exist between the average academic performance of affluent and lower-income students?
  • What will you do to encourage schools to increase participation of children in food programs like free/reduced food and nutrition programs school lunches, school breakfasts, and summer meals?
  • What will you do to ensure that all families, regardless of socio-economic backgrounds, will be guaranteed easily-accessible and early education resources?
  • What has motivated you to run for public office?

Remember to share your personal advocacy story!

JLM Advocacy Election Guide

Register To Vote During National Voter Registration Day

“The only title in our democracy superior to that of President is the title of citizen.”
– Justice Louis Brandeis, 1937.


In 2008, 6 million Americans didn’t vote due to a missed registration deadline or a lack of knowledge of how to register.  Make your vote count and register to vote today.

Key Dates for Minnesota 2014 Mid-Term Election

  • Absentee Ballots Available: Fri, Sept 15th
  • Pre-Registration Deadline: Tues, Oct 14th; voters can also register on Election Day
  • Election Day: Tues, Nov 4th