Education

  • Leili represents District 63B's growing demographic of families from diverse backgrounds with young children.

All students in Minnesota should have access to a top-quality public education regardless of their zip code, including access to the resources and conditions both inside and outside the classroom that are necessary in order to learn, grow, and succeed.  And, yet, Minnesota has been failing in making the necessary investments in teachers, programs, and support services that are fundamental to both students' academic success and their social and emotional growth and well-being. Our state faces a growing shortage of qualified teachers, especially teachers of color, because of challenges with both recruitment and retention. Minnesota has one of the worst student-to-school-counselor ratios in the nation--about 800 students to every one counselor which is almost double the national average and more than triple the recommended ratio.

 

These problems negatively impact all students in the state, but are especially detrimental to our students of color. It has been well established for years that Minnesota has one of the worst achievement gaps between white students and students of color in the country. This is a problem that is institutional, structural, and systemic--addressing inequities in the allocation of educational resources is critical, but not sufficient, to address the problem. Lack of diversity among teachers also places students of color at a disadvantage. Students of color also disproportionately lack stable housing, reliable transportation, and access to healthcare, all of which amplify every other learning-related challenge.

As your state representative, I will fight to:

  • Stop public funds from being diverted to private schools through pseudo-vouchers or scholarship tax credits

  • Increase our investment in public school teachers, including more funding for teacher training and development and more competitive teacher compensation and benefits

  • Fund the creation of programs and incentives to increase recruitment of teachers of color

  • Reduce the opportunity and achievement gap by investing in education at every level, from pre-k to post-secondary

  • Increase funding for special education, mental health services, counselors, and other support services

  • Fully fund the Child Care Assistance Program

  • Support policies to create affordable housing, reliable transportation, and livable wages

Environment

Every Minnesotan deserves clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and a clean environment in which to live, work, and play. Over the last four years, Minnesota's environment has been under attack by unprecedented Republican attempts to rollback our water quality standards, to strip the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Department of Natural Resources of their ability to pass environmental regulations based on science, and to put the profits of multi-national oil and mining companies ahead of the health and economic welfare of Minnesotans. I will work hard to:

  • Invest in bonding for wastewater and drinking water infrastructure

  • Protect the Legacy Amendment Clean Water Fund from future raids to ensure the preservation of our natural heritage for our children and generations to come

  • Defend against rollbacks to the state's water quality standards and buffer requirements

  • Defend against polluter interests that seek to skirt and gut our state's environmental protections and eliminate the ability of our state and local agencies to monitor, control, and mitigate pollution

  • Strengthen regulatory requirements for mining and pipeline projects, including the requirement for full financial assurance for environmental clean up costs

  • Preserve the authority of local governments to regulate or ban environmentally harmful land uses such as frac sand mining

  • Authorize the regulation of neonicotinoid seed treatments as pesticides and charge a pollinator conservation fee on their use

  • Get Minnesota on track to achieve at least 80% renewable energy by 2030

  • Expand the use of electric vehicles throughout the state

  • Increase our investments in transit and multi-modal transportation

I will also work to ensure that our environmental policies include mechanisms that prioritize environmental justice, both looking forward and restoratively. We need to ensure that those communities that have disproportionately borne the brunt of air and water pollution, highways running through their neighborhoods, and unremediated brownfields are the first to share in the benefits of clean up efforts and renewable energy projects. Our environmental decision-making processes should also be reformed to provide more opportunity for meaningful participation and input from communities suffering environmental injustices.

Equity is not an issue—it is the totality of issues past, present, and future that determine an individual's or a community's ability to access opportunities and to thrive socially and economically. Advancing equity requires redressing past injustices, preventing future inequities, and vesting political power in the disenfranchised. As a legislator, I will approach all policy issues through a lens of equity, and it will be my priority to:

  • Improve the affordability, accessibility, and reliability of housing, transportation, food, healthcare, education, and other essential rights and services

  • Establish a statewide $15 minimum wage with no tip penalty

  • Defend the rights our immigrant and refugee committees to work, obtain driver licenses, and live openly as members of our community without fear of deportation

  • Enact  police and criminal justice reforms, including restorative measures, to address the  persistent and systematic targeting of people of color

  • Fight against discriminatory laws and practices targeting LGBTQAI Minnesotans, including work to ban conversion therapy

  • Support the restoration and strengthening of legal protections for people with disabilities

Equity

  • Leili's public affairs practice is a public benefit corporation focusing on social justice issues at the intersection of natural, social, and built environments.
     

  • Prior to starting her practice, Leili was faculty at the University of Minnesota's Law School, Humphrey School, and Center for Bioethics and focused on the social and ethical impacts of health, environment, science, and technology.
     

  • Leili has worked with community-led initiatives to improve transportation independence for people with disabilities.
     

  • Leili was a member of the MN Pollution Control Agency's Environmental Justice task force.

  • Leili is the Sierra Club's attorney in the legal fight to stop the expansion of Enbridge's Line 3 oil pipeline through Minn-esota.
     

  • Leili represents Friends of the Mississippi River at the state legislature and has emerged as one of the most informed, strat-egic, and formidable champions for clean water and science-based environmental review. You can view some of her advocacy here.

  • Leili wrote the legal and policy analysis and model ordinance for the use local zoning authority of to ban frac sand mining operations, which was subsequently enacted in Winona County.
     

  • Leili developed and manages KeepMNClean, a successful website and campaign to engage and activate the public around environmental issues at the MN legislature.

Transportation funding and policy has become a mainstay of political gridlock at the state Capitol with Republicans co-opting investments in mass transit as unpopular with and detrimental to the residents of Greater Minnesota. The reality is that Minnesotans across the state understand and support the need for increased statewide funding for all modes of transportation. Investments in transit, walking, and biking options are critical to growing our state's economy because they are amenities that prospective residents, prospective workers, and prospective businesses demand when deciding where to establish or relocate. Multi-modal transportation options are also integral to reducing our carbon emissions, improving mobility for seniors and people with disabilities, reducing the cost of housing, removing barriers to education and work, and improving the health of our residents. I will work hard to:

  • Support new and sustainable funding to meet both capital and operational needs to expand multi-modal transportation systems in the metropolitan region and throughout the state

  • Support the ability of cities to influence transportation investments that effect them

  • Invest in electric vehicle infrastructure throughout the state and support incentives to increase adoption of electric vehicles, including electric transit

  • Lead the development of policies that ensure autonomous vehicle technology supports rather than displaces public transit, is used to improve mobility for people with disabilities, reduces the number of single-occupancy vehicles on the road, and has minimal impact on professional drivers

  • Leili led the advocacy effort to protect MN's $47M share of environmental mitigation funds from the VW settle-ment from being misappro-priated by Republican legislators and given to fossil fuel interests. Read more here.

  • Leili co-developed and co-hosted Here to There, a podcast series on the human impacts of the Twin Cities' transportation system, which has received national recognition for advancing the conversation about multi-modal transportation.

Transportation

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