Student involvement is critical

If you are a student, you have been historically underrepresented.

In his Oct. 27 column, John Hoff asked readers to supply ideas to inspire college students to help improve their neighborhoods. I’d like to echo that request.

The best solution is devised with all the stakeholders at the table, and, as integral members of the 2nd Ward neighborhoods, students need to be at the table to design solutions to their neighborhood’s problems.

The 2nd Ward neighborhoods are home to a great diversity of people. From all backgrounds and stages in life, yes, but they are neighborhoods not without challenges. Increases in crime and increased cost and declining quality of rental housing are issues that affect students directly and disproportionately more than longer-term residents.

Yet, both have negative impacts on the livability of our neighborhoods. From my time on the campaign trail, talking with both temporary and longer-term residents, students and nonstudents, I see many areas of common concern. Everyone wants safe streets. Everyone wants housing that is in repair and within their means. Everyone wants sleep-filled nights and vomit-free weekends. I know that the best solutions will come from the community, when students and longer-term residents work together to create a common understanding, then, together, work with the city to implement the jointly identified solutions.

If you are a student, you have been historically underrepresented in neighborhood and city priorities. Certainly student mobility is a challenge. It takes time to become familiar with one’s neighborhood, to learn where to get a good cup of coffee, let alone find out when the neighborhood crime and safety meeting is held or how to contact your council member about your errant landlord.

But student under-representation does not serve our ward or our city. You need a council member who knows how to work with you as a partner in city hall, who can meet you where you’re at and bring you into the conversations about how to address issues that affect you. And then be able to take those solutions back downtown and implement them through the bureaucracy of city hall. I have the hands-on experience of successfully building partnerships.

As your next City Council member, I am committed to: working with Minnesota Student Association’s Legislative Affairs Committee to identify policy approaches to issues facing students – primarily safety, housing and transportation; holding information sessions on issues facing students such as tenants rights, personal safety workshops, and parking and transportation issues; working with neighborhood groups to set up governing structures that facilitate student involvement; and establishing communication links that will increase my accessibility to students and help inform students of city resources, policies and initiatives.

It all starts by going to the polls next Tuesday and electing me to be your next City Council member. I am proud to be supported in this race by the University DFL, the University Generation Democracy for America, and the 21st Century Democrats.

Now I ask for your support Tuesday. Call me at (612) 724-5163 or go to my Web site: For poll and election information go to: elections/index.asp. And I’m still looking forward to seeing those three-page, double-spaced essays about what could inspire a college student to help improve their neighborhood.

Cara Letofsky is the DFL City Council candidate for Ward 2. Please send comments to [email protected]