Council woman’s agenda includes University issues

Megan Boldt

After working as a registered nurse for the University hospitals for 31 years, Minneapolis councilwoman Joan Campbell decided to head for the political arena in 1989.
She has represented neighborhoods around the University since 1990. Her district includes Marcy Holmes, Prospect Park, Como, Cedar-Riverside, Dinkytown and Stadium Village, as well as portions of the Seward and Elliot Park neighborhoods.
Campbell, a Prospect Park resident, said she stays abreast of the issues affecting her constituents, including those pertaining to the University community.
Her concern is tied to her personal history at the University. One memory sticks out in her mind.
“I was there when the first open-heart and transplant surgeries were being performed,” Campbell said. “Many of the children I worked with in pediatrics were involved in these historical surgeries. It was an exciting time at the University.”
Although Campbell began her career in health care, she said public affairs have always appealed to her.
“Nurses generally have an interest in public policy,” she said. “They care about inequities in health care and about people’s welfare in general.”
In addition to her nursing position, Campbell said she devoted herself to campus politics and activism. She served as a member of the Metropolitan Council from 1973 to 1990. Campbell also held numerous positions within the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party.
“The civil rights and anti-war movements were huge issues at the time,” Campbell said. “I was an activist for a variety of liberal issues.”
Campbell brought her political ambitions and activist roots to the Minneapolis City Council in 1990.
“One of the things I am proud of is the rental-licensing ordinance,” she said. “It controls tenant behavior and also the actions of the landlord.”
Another city initiative Campbell takes partial credit for is the cleanup of an area once heavily polluted along the Mississippi River in southeast Minneapolis. Industry and residential units now occupy the once-unusable strip of land.
“This area is a core part of the city,” Campbell said. “The cleanup is making use of space and also restoring parts of the city.”

University initiatives
The University has historically had an uneasy relationship with surrounding neighborhoods, but Campbell said officials have made an effort to improve the situation.
Campbell said some of the residents who live close to campus are particularly concerned about underage drinking and student parties that disturb the neighborhoods.
“I recently received an anonymous complaint of underage drinkers roaming the streets of one neighborhood,” Campbell said. “I want college kids to have fun, but also be safe, too.
“We have to try and balance issues like these,” she added.
Light-rail transit is another important issue students should follow, Campbell said. The station slated to open on the West Bank will provide students with another mode of transportation.
In addition to transportation proposals, Campbell said new housing complex designed for students are important additions to the University area.
For instance, University Village, a luxury student-housing unit located at 1900 University Ave. S.E., opened in June. Two new housing complexes, one north of Dinkytown and another on the West Bank, are scheduled to be finished next fall.
“Both are student apartment buildings,” Campbell said. “Private developers are building these without subsidies.”
Campbell said she sees this as a positive move because it will enhance campus life for students.
Paving the way for a new Minneapolis sports stadium is another item on Campbell’s agenda. The councilwoman said the University has a stake in the debate.
“What people don’t realize is that the Gophers have a lease at the Metrodome,” Campbell said. “We cannot leave them out of the talks as if they were second-class citizens.”
She said owners of professional sports teams have a legitimate reason for requesting a new stadium. The public will share in the pride of erecting a new facility, she added.
“The citizens do not realize the public owns the facilities and rents them to the tenants,” Campbell said. “It is unfair to say we build them for the team.”

Megan Boldt covers city government and welcomes comments at [email protected] She can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3224.