Q&A with Minneapolis mayoral candidate Kate Knuth

Meet the candidate with experience in environmental justice and local leadership.

Mayoral+Candidate+Kate+Knuth+sits+outside+of+Northrop+Auditorium+for+a+portrait+on+Tuesday%2C+Sept.+28.+Knuth+attended+the+Minnesota+Student+Association%E2%80%99s+annual+Voterpalooza%2C+an+event+aimed+at+getting+students+to+register+to+vote.

Ethan Fine

Mayoral Candidate Kate Knuth sits outside of Northrop Auditorium for a portrait on Tuesday, Sept. 28. Knuth attended the Minnesota Student Association’s annual Voterpalooza, an event aimed at getting students to register to vote.

Olivia Stevens

In an interview with the Minnesota Daily, Minneapolis mayoral candidate Kate Knuth sat down to discuss her run for office and what she hopes to accomplish if she wins. Some of Knuth’s top priorities include addressing climate change, reforming public safety and expanding affordable housing. 

Tell me about yourself.
“I have moved back and forth between science and public leadership in various ways. I am a former state representative. I built a lot of leadership programs here at the U, at the Institute on the Environment that worked with graduate students across the University. I was Chief Resilience Officer in Minneapolis, finished up my PhD a few years ago and have been building my own consulting company on climate policy and strategy. I also served on our state’s Environmental Quality Board for six years and I am currently on the Bryn Mawr Neighborhood Association Board.”

Why are you running for mayor?
“It comes from this deeply held value that a good life is lived in service of and in relationship with my community … My dad ran for the legislature when I was very young … and I did not like it when he ran because I was very shy … didn’t want to smile for pictures, didn’t want to be in parades, but the importance of serving our community really stuck with me.”

Why should Minneapolis citizens vote for you over the other candidates?
“I bring both a deep commitment to helping us navigate this moment and make real progress on racial justice, true public safety and the climate crisis, and I bring the relationship, the skill and the experience in having worked in multiple kinds of big bureaucracies to make them work better for what we need them to do. And I think that’s exactly what people are looking for in a mayor right now.”

How do you plan to change the city’s public safety system from what it is now?
“I think we need to take a more holistic approach. I support charter amendment two, which creates a new Department of Public Safety, and I’m also very clear that police are part of that department … I think we ask police to do too much that they’re not necessarily trained for, so we need to move to more kinds of responses like mental health or social workers, different kinds of crisis response. And we need real transparency and accountability in the police department.”

What are you specifically looking to do to address the climate crisis in Minneapolis?
“I’ve been working on climate change for pretty much my whole career, and I have never heard people as concerned as I have heard people now, and particularly young people … So I put forward a Minneapolis Green New Deal because I think people in Minneapolis are ready for a real, unabashed champion for climate justice in city hall. And we’ve done good work on climate, but we’re not reducing emissions fast enough and we have not taken on climate resilience and adaptation fully as a city. And what that means is we need to understand how different groups are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and be intentional in how we’re investing in infrastructure, neighborhoods and parks, and building resilience to climate impacts that are already here.”

Are you planning to expand affordable housing in the city?
“We’re one of the tightest housing markets in the country right now, so we do need to invest more in all kinds of housing, and particularly more in affordable and deeply affordable housing. So that’s the foundation of my housing plan. I also support protections for renters. More than half of Minneapolis residents are renters now, and over 40% are cost burdened … so we do need, in addition to building more housing, to work on renter protections like rent stabilization, eviction protections, things like that.”

This interview has been lightly edited for length, grammar and clarity.