Candidate Questionnaire Response: Suyapa Miranda, Ward 5

Suyapa Miranda is running for City Council in Ward 5. Learn more about her at mirandaforward5.com.

What is your vision for safety and wellness rooted in St. Paul communities? As a city councilmember, what concrete steps would you take to support that vision? And who else would you work with to advance that vision?

Prioritizing public infrastructure investment in low income areas; increased funding for employment and training programs; new employment training programs for sustainability/green. Support the The Department of Planning and Economic Development (PED) in developing a strategic plan that prioritizes low income communities for public infrastructure improvements; collaborate with private, public, unions and philanthropic partners to increase workforce diversity and create sustainability/green job training programs for those who are unemployed and underemployed.

What alternatives to policing, arrest, criminal prosecution and incarceration would you work to support? How would you work to reduce the dramatic racial disparities and impacts of these systems?

Bail reform, diversion programs, violence prevention programs, dismissal/non-prosecution/no jail time for low level drug and (non-violent) misdemeanor charges, ensure supports in place for meeting court appointments; reframe the narrative to depict crimes of poverty and shift how charging happens.

Many people who are routinely impacted by policing come from our most impoverished and disenfranchised communities, and due to systemic inequities, they are comparatively disconnected from the levers of power. How would you work to elevate the experience and insight of directly impacted community members so they can have the same impact on shaping policy as well-funded advocacy organizations?

Hosting community meetings and building relationships, doing lots of surveying asking questions. Collaborating with City departments, nonprofits and key community members to help shape and implement policy.

In partnership with the community-first safety initiative, and with leadership support from the city council, St. Paul residents have advanced the idea of a community cabinet on safety, wellness, and justice. How would you support this cabinet to ensure it has lasting and meaningful input?

Co-create/fund healing justice spaces where historical trauma can be unpacked and cultural identity and contribution can be traced and told accurately. Partner with community organizations that focus on culturally competent community safety. Funding for programs that engage youth and provide

What is your knowledge of or experience with restorative justice and restorative practices? How might St. Paul become a restorative city?

I have attended many restorative justice healing circles, I am also aware of Ramsey County and St. Paul Public Schools already use it in resolving conflict and addressing crime as a restorative programs. Our city is simply in need of more programs to address unresolved trauma and working through conflict and funding organization such Dispute Resolution center would be a great start.

What specific steps would you take to build stability in areas hard-hit by poverty, unemployment, and housing insecurity?

Invest in built environment; build economic development opportunities by funding business incubator initiatives and providing technical assistance for emerging businesses; easing permit fees and permit process; utilizing TIFF for affordable housing developments.

What do you know about the recently dissolved Joint Powers Agreement to share data to flag Ramsey County students as “at-risk”? What lessons do you think officials should take away from the political process that created the Joint Powers Agreement data-sharing plan?

No surprise here, I’m a data geek, one of the questions I ask, why are we creating this survey and what are we using this data for? It would take 4 months with community members just to create the survey making sure we are asking the right questions through the lens of equity. What officials should takeaway is that not all data collection is good data and how someone can interpret the data can have long lasting harmful effects on individuals such as children. Racial profiling is unacceptable and using the data to hinder children and families from opportunities is crude to made assumptions and jumping to conclusions with incomplete, inaccurate data to perpetuate harmful stereotypes about poor people of color. What we need is better funding for youth programs, more safe spaces for youth.

What specific steps will you take to end the school to prison pipeline for St. Paul youth? What can you as a city councilmember do to create more opportunities for youth to thrive?

Healing justice space (as defined above) youth centers; art through storytelling; partner with SPPS and charter around youth employment and training programs.

How should the city of St. Paul welcome and support people returning to neighborhoods from jail or prison, or living on probation? What steps would you take to make housing more accessible to people with criminal convictions?

The truth is many public housing and housing vouchers may be off-limits, and many landlords are reluctant to rent to former offenders, yet everyone deserves to have housing as a human right. Formerly prison inmates are almost 10 times more likely to become homeless than the general population. We need housing felony programs to trainistion people from jail to neighborhoods, while protecting the public. Educating the public and landlords about the word felony and the difference legal offence classes would be a start. Giving landlords some incentives to help house fenlons. Especially finding general housing for felons that have a nonviolent or no sex crimes felony.

What is a person, place, book, experience, or film that has especially influenced your vision of community-first public safety and your dreams about what’s possible for community-first public safety in St. Paul?

Books: The New Jim Crow; Between the World and Me; Policy Paradox: The Art of Political decision Making

What informs your decision-making process when it comes to community issues? Can you share a story about a specific time when you had to decide where you stood on a difficult community issue, or when you had to decide what kind of action you should take on an issue? How did you arrive at the decision you did?

One of my important skill-set of mine is the ability to listen and creating plan based off what I hearing, and not just hearing creating surveying for those who are not at the table. Creating a 360 plan on community is vital. Coming from a community council hosting listening sessions and surveying our community is important to the come to a discussion making process. That final step is coming to an plan of action with in a timely matter.

What does co-governance look like to you? How have you implemented that vision of co-governance in your own life and work? How would you work to scale up that vision in city government?

Working together to find strategies and programs that put community at the forefront through collaboration with community members, nonprofits, law enforcement and other governmental partners to address the root cause of violence and incarceration. Expanding programs for young people, people of color, and women to enter public safety fields. Diversifying the Saint Paul Police Department so that it reflects the residents of Saint Paul in ethnicity, gender and life experience and prioritizing hiring of citizens who reside in communities where they serve to make our city safer and stronger and better connected.

We are a citywide collaboration of individuals and organizations working to advance police accountability, community-defined safety, and racial justice.