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Natural Awakenings Twin Cities

Educating the Citizens to Close Opportunity Gaps with De'Vonna Pittman, Daonna Depoister, and Cedrick Frazier

Meet local candidates who are running for office in the primaries on August 11, De'Vonna Pittman, Daonna Depoister, Cedrick Frazier. Discover what prompted them to run for office, their stances on affordable healthcare and childcare, and what they will do, if elected, to affect climate change and carbon emissions.

Shownotes:

[00:00:06.420] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Good morning and welcome to Green Tea Conversations, the radio show that delves into the pages of Natural Awakenings magazine to bring you the local experts who share their progressive ideas and the latest information and insights needed so you can lead your best life. I'm your host, Candi Broeffle, the publisher, the Twin Cities edition of Natural Awakenings magazine and I am honored to bring these experts to you. Today on our show, we will be talking to three local candidates who are running for office in the primaries on August 11. Our first candidate is De'Vonna Pittman, who is the DFL endorsed candidate for Hennepin County District One, which includes the cities of Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Crystal, New Hope, Osseo, and Robbinsdale. Devona is an author, entrepreneur, and long-time employee at Hennepin County, where she currently serves as a disparity reduction coordinator. Welcome to the show, Devona.
 
[00:01:03.930] - De'Vonna Pittman, Guest
Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. 
 
[00:01:06.750] - Candi Broeffle, Host
We are so glad to have you on the show. So, I'm going to start off in this show. What I'm going to do is actually ask each candidate the same set of questions. And so, for the first question for you, I'm going to start with is what made you decide to run for office in this election?
 
[00:01:26.860] - De'Vonna Pittman, Guest
Well, running for office was absolutely not the thing that I wanted to do, it was something that I had to do. I had been spending a lot of time in the community hearing about things that were important to people and things that mattered. But then, on the other hand, I was a county employee, so I saw how we did business behind closed doors. And I also got to sit in a lot of the board meetings. And one day I just recognized that we needed a different perspective in our district. I felt like a lot of the ideas and the innovation that was happening on a board level for my district was not happening in a way that was really pulling people out of poverty and including opportunities for folks to really prosper in a way that will help us to reduce disparities in our state. So, I knew that I couldn't continue to wait on someone else to run against a twenty-nine-year incumbent, that people probably would not run against him if he was still sitting in that seat. And so, I decided that it had to be me.
 
[00:02:41.560] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Okay. So, in light of the COVID-19 health crisis, with people losing their employer-provided health care and others having difficulty paying their premiums, what ideas do you have to assure access to affordable health care for all of our citizens?
 
[00:02:59.410] - De'Vonna Pittman, Guest
Hennepin County absolutely has relationships with both health and health care. And I plan to be on that board on the Hennepin health board with all the other board members and to advocate for great insurance, good insurance, especially for people who I believe health care is a right for one. I don't think people should be squandering, trying to figure out how they're going to pay for their health care. And so, I would absolutely advocate for free health care and good health care.
 
[00:03:34.960] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Okay. So in your opinion, what types of natural health care should be covered for health insurance?
 
[00:03:43.150] - De'Vonna Pittman, Guest
Well, I'm a bit of a naturalist. I believe that anything that grows from the ground, anything that Mother Earth has given us is some of the greatest potions and tonics that we could ever have. So, I absolutely believe in great nutrition and other ways to heal ourselves, whether it be a massage or any kind of natural remedies that are offered. I think we have enough scientific proof to tell us that those natural ways of taking care of our bodies work. And so, I would absolutely advocate for those things to be a part of our health care system.
 
[00:04:33.490] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Prescription drug prices are continually rising even for lifesaving drugs like Insulin, which has been available to diabetics for decades. What do you see as the impetus for these rising costs? And how can you assure people get what they need to live healthy lives?
 
[00:04:50.850] - De'Vonna Pittman, Guest
Yeah, I think that the reason for the higher prescription drugs is really about greed, it's not about care or concern for people who absolutely need these drugs to live. And I think that we need people who will continue to fight for these drugs to be free and affordable. Those conversations happen at a legislative level at the Capitol, and the county commissioners don't really move those kinds of issues as far as from a legislative perspective. However, we absolutely can continue to support those conversations, be strong advocates on the ground. We can have conversations with the people who live in our districts to really understand the need for Insulin and other kinds of drugs that are an issue with the rising costs with all. The county commission is a powerful voice because we are closer to the ground than most, we would be closer to the ground than most elected officials because we have our ear and pulse to the communities.
 
[00:06:09.990] - Candi Broeffle, Host
So, what do you see as the most important education issue facing us today, and what do you propose to do to solve it?
 
[00:06:19.440] - De'Vonna Pittman, Guest
Well, I am so very concerned with where we are right now in the midst of a pandemic and our children are being homeschooled by their parents and guardians. So, gosh, we need to put our heads together and figure out how we make sure that children are learning. There definitely won't be a consistent form of learning because people are at home. So, I'm very concerned about that prior to the pandemic, one of my goals as a county commissioner was absolutely figuring out how the county commission develops a strong partnership with our schools. We or the county commissioners have a lot of say into our juvenile justice, our juvenile detention program, and our criminal justice program. And so, rather than wait until our children are in trouble and they're in custody at the county, we need to start figuring out how to partner with our schools to create workforce to relevant opportunities for you and help our kids figure out positive paths.
 
[00:07:36.390] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Okay. So, we have a lot of work to do in our country when it comes to addressing systemic racism. In your opinion, what is the most pressing issues that need to be addressed immediately? And what are your initial ideas to do so?
 
[00:07:52.240] - De'Vonna Pittman, Guest
Well, the largest problem that I recognize right now is that we have a lot of leaders and a lot of organizations who don't believe that racism is an issue. That in itself is an issue. So, we need to start weeding, weeding immediately. If people don't want to get with the program, then they might need to find something else to do because we absolutely cannot have leaders in positions that don't believe that systemic racism is an issue. Organizations starting with Hennepin County, we have to take a look at age-old policies, policies that have been in place for hundreds of years that have not served us, and that's in education, employment, income, health, housing, transportation, and in our justice systems. For me, bail reform is an absolute first-line goal for me because our criminal justice system is broken and it has been broken since the day it was constructed. So, we have to take a look at every single policy that we have in place and make sure that it is serving us. If it's not, then it needs to go.
 
[00:09:14.440] - Candi Broeffle, Host
And when you say the bail system, what do you see as the issue with it?
 
[00:09:19.030] - De'Vonna Pittman, Guest
Well, I mean, it is so many issues. But number one, we know that people of color make way less money. 63 cents or 37 cents or something like that to the dollar for Caucasian people. And so, there's no way that if a black person gets locked up that they're going to have five hundred dollars, or thousand dollars, especially in our poor communities. But if someone who is white gets locked up, they have more access to not only money, but they have access to homes and they can take out loans. Just the way that our system has been set up, bail reform is not an equal system. It doesn't provide equality across the system because we don't have equality across either of the domains, especially when it comes to income. And so, bail reform is a setup, I mean, bail is a setup and it goes against everything that we say we want to change.
 
[00:10:31.780] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Well, De'Vonna, thank you so much for being with us today and answering our questions. To learn more about the issues important to De'Vonna, visit PeopleforPittman.com and that's PEOPLE the word For FOR pittman.com. To read the online edition of Natural Awakenings magazine, visit NaturalTwinCities.com. You can find a podcast of this show on AM950Radio.com, on Apple and Google Podcasts, and anywhere you get your podcast. You're listening to Green Tea Conversations on AM950, the Progressive Voice of Minnesota. And we will be right back.

[00:11:17.980] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Welcome back to Green Tea Conversations, where we delve into the pages of Natural Awakenings magazine and talk to the professionals who share their expertise on natural health with you. I'm your host, Candi Broeffle, and we are now welcoming into our show Daonna Depoister. Daonna has 20 years of business experience in financial services, was appointed by the Minnesota Legislature to the Family Building Task Force, and has served as a leader on the boards of several non-profit organizations. She is also a candidate for state representative in District 45A, which includes the cities of Plymouth, New Hope, and Crystal. Thank you for being with us today. Daonna, 
 
[00:12:00.060] - Daonna Depoister, Guest
Thank you for having me, Candi.
 
[00:12:02.380] - Candi Broeffle, Host
So, you were running in the primary on August 11th and we are interviewing both of you and your opponent on this show. So, it really is just so that our listeners and the readers in the magazine get a chance to kind of see side by side some of the candidates who are running. And of course, we can't do everyone. But we wanted to, we were able to bring you into the studio, and I appreciate that. So, let's get started and I'm going to ask you what made you decide to run for office?
 
[00:12:36.040] - Daonna Depoister, Guest
Well, shortly after our first son was born in 1999, there was some legislation being proposed that would require parental medical treatments for infertility to be declared on the child's birth certificate. And when I heard that, I said no way. And that is one of the experiences that lit my fire to advocate for others like ourselves. But then I fast forward to early 2003, and I was lobbying as a private citizen at the Capitol with my friends, and I shared with them that the child that I was carrying was going to be born with Down syndrome. And through my tears, as I was telling them, it hit me that the laws that we put in place are there to protect people like my son who are disabled, people who are marginalized and vulnerable, and those who have no voice of their own. And it was at that moment that I knew I wanted to advocate for others in such a much bigger way. So, when I learned that Representative Carlson was retiring, I knew that the time was now.
 
[00:13:46.270] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Oh, great. So, speaking of this, this kind of leads us into the next question. In light of the COVID-19 health crisis, with many people losing their employer-provided health care and others having difficulty paying their premiums, what ideas do you have to assure access to affordable health care for all of our citizens?
 
[00:14:09.040] - Daonna Depoister, Guest
Good question. So, Candi, the US spends more on health care than any developed country in the world, but we rank thirty-seven in outcomes, and COVID-19 has pointed to a lot of fractures in our health care system. So, we have to provide equal access to health care for all people. We have to reduce the cost of health care. We have to get employers out of the business of providing health care so it's not a condition of employment and because so many low paying and part-time jobs don't have benefits, and it's especially a burden for small businesses to provide health care benefits. So, we have to make health care a right, not a privilege. So, I believe we have to go to a single-payer system similar to Medicare. And another area of concern to me is the high cost of drugs for everyone, especially those who have low incomes or fixed incomes.
 
[00:15:11.060] - Candi Broeffle, Host
So, in your opinion, what types of natural health care should be covered in health insurance?
 
[00:15:18.020] - Daonna Depoister, Guest
Well, I want to share a little story to help you answer this. But several years ago, my mom had excruciating pain in her neck and could hardly hold her head up. And we went to Mayo Clinic, where we have had great success for over 40 years. But this time all the drugs and all the procedures and all the pain management just didn't work. So, I did some research and was directed to a wonderful man named Ping who does acupuncture and qigong just in our area here. And my mom was 88 years old at the time and I wasn't sure that she would even go for it. But she actually said yes and she said, I will try anything. So, after the first visit, my mom told me that her pain was cut in half, and over about a six-week period, it was finally gone. And she had to pay totally out of pocket for that treatment. But it was worth every penny. And she actually credits him with saving her life because she said she couldn't possibly live with that kind of pain that she had suffered. And if alternative treatments had been covered by her insurance, we might have tried that option a lot sooner and save the insurance company thousands of dollars. So, I do believe that health insurance should cover things like naturopaths, chiropractors, acupuncturists, qigong, and other natural remedies. And we shouldn't leave out other things like nutritional coaching and healthy exercise. And I also think that medical marijuana should be covered for cancer patients and other diseases, for pain management and seizure disorders.
 
[00:17:03.080] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Prescription drug prices are continually rising even for life-saving drugs such as Insulin, which has been available to diabetics for decades. What do you see as the impetus of these rising costs? And how can you assure people, how can you assure people get what they need to live a healthy life? 
 
[00:17:23.260] - Daonna Depoister, Guest
So, Candi, our state has recently passed the Alex Smith Insulin Affordability Act to provide emergency insulin to diabetic patients, but we still have to address the high cost of insulin. So, a few weeks ago, I was talking with Janet in New Hope, who's a pharmacist, and she was explaining to me that drug companies research drugs that give them high-profit margins but don't always research drugs that are actually needed. So, part of the impetus for these rising costs stems from huge amounts of advertising that we see on TV for drugs every day, disease marketing. And another reason is that the long-term patents that keep drugs prices high so that generic drugs can't be marketed until the patent runs out. And the third thing, while we need to make sure that drugs we use are safe and effective and are monitored properly, the cost of getting FDA approval for drug companies is huge. So, some of the things that we can do to ensure that people get what they need to live a healthy life are to cover preventative health care, not just curative health care. We can work with drug companies to encourage research on drugs we actually need while keeping their profits stable. But that way we don't have to impose price controls that other countries do. And of course, if we went to a single-payer health care system that would provide access to drugs at a much more reasonable cost.
 
[00:19:06.830] - Candi Broeffle, Host
So what is the most important education issue you feel is facing us today and what do you propose that should be done to solve it?
 
[00:19:17.480] - Daonna Depoister, Guest
I think the most important issue right now is the education achievement gap. In 2019, there was a report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis that found that Minnesota is one of the worst states in the country for education achievement gap. And the report also says that education-disparities are not just affecting students of color and they are not confined to just one area of the state. Now, having said that, we do have schools in our state that do not have an education achievement gap and we should take what's working in those schools that are transferable and use those pieces as models for other schools that need help. Every child deserves a world-class education and the city or neighborhood in which a child lives should not determine his or her access to the best educational resources that Minnesota can provide. So, I will advocate for an educational system where each and every student receives an excellent education, meets them where they are at, and prepares them for their future, whether they go to trade schools, vocational schools, community colleges, or four-year colleges. And in some areas, there's a disparity in the equity of taxes that are paid for education in suburban communities like ours, which don't have a lot of industry, and that makes property taxes for our residents higher than many of our surrounding communities. So, I will advocate for measures that actually equalize our taxes. And we also need to provide incentives for finishing high school so that we eliminate that school-to-prison pipeline. And also having a child with Down syndrome, I understand the need for inclusion in our schools for students with different abilities, different cultures, and different needs. And as a state representative, I will advocate for full funding for our schools.
 
[00:21:18.770] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Okay. So, do you acknowledge that climate change is real and poses an immediate threat to our environment and our health and safety?
 
[00:21:29.010] - Daonna Depoister, Guest
We have a global rise in temperature in the last thirty-five years. We have warming oceans, shrinking ice sheets. We have glaciers that are retreating and a rise in sea levels that is accelerating every year. We have extreme events like tsunamis and hurricanes that we never used to hear about. This is the evidence and it's a worldwide issue. So, yes, I believe climate change is real and that we need to address these changes so that we can not only protect our own health and safety but that of our environment. Climate change will impact in a much greater way, countries who are struggling like Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. So, if we don't make change quickly, our poorest economies in the world will be impacted. In fact, all of our economies will be impacted.
 
[00:22:22.740] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Okay. What specific goals and measures do you support for reducing carbon emissions?
 
[00:22:31.930] - Daonna Depoister, Guest
So, our state legislature passed a bill in 2019 to make our state one hundred percent free of carbon electricity generation by the year 2050, but we don't have that technology to do this yet. But we do have the technology to be 80 percent free by 2030. So, we need to set this as a graduated goal to ensure that we stay on track. Another goal is to require carbon-neutral heating in government buildings and incentivize homeowners and business owners to do the same. Another measure would be to have electric charging stations in the apartment buildings, lots, rest areas, national parks, and all government buildings. And as we replace things like buses and government fleet cars, we could use electric vehicles and incent the public to do the same.
 
[00:23:26.500] - Candi Broeffle, Host
And our final question for you today is we have a lot of work to do in our country when it comes to addressing systemic racism. In your opinion, what are the most pressing issues that need to be addressed immediately? And what are your initial ideas to do so?
 
[00:23:47.160] - Daonna Depoister, Guest
Well, that's a very big question, but I am actually encouraged for the first time in our history, systemic racism is actually being addressed not just as a black issue, but that finally white people are also getting involved and standing up for our communities of color. And I have to admit that over these last weeks, I've been seeking out information for myself to help my own understanding of what systemic racism is and how it happened. And as I've been learning more and more, I'm recognizing in myself ways that I need to change; things that I do without thinking that I never realized until now. So, one of the first things that white people can do now is to search out factual resources to help us understand better what our black friends have endured for so many years. We've got books and articles, YouTube, all kinds of resources available to us. And in my research, I've learned that the average black household has only 60 percent of the income of the average white household. And only 10 percent of the wealth and wealth allows people to own a home, send their kids to college, start a small business, and without it, anyone negative life event can create a crisis of disastrous proportion, loss of a home, an apartment, or a car, things that are imperative. So there were covenants in 1948 that prevented homeownership by African-Americans and 50 percent of the developments in Minneapolis. And there's a whole lot more to this idea. But there's, we have to outlaw redlining. We have to forget mortgage, providers from discriminatory lending practices. We need better training for our police and the escalating violent situations and putting laws in place that actually protect our citizens. And we have to implement more rigorous statewide and national policing standards. This is just a place to start.
 
[00:25:53.200] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Thank you so much for being with us today, Daonna. And to learn more about the issues that are important to Daonna, visit DaonnaDepoister.com. You're listening to Green Tea Conversations on AM950, the Progressive Voice of Minnesota, and we will be right back.
 
[00:26:16.460] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Welcome back to Green Tea Conversations, where we delve into the pages of Natural Awakenings magazine and talk to the professionals who share their expertise on natural health with you. I'm your host, Candi Broeffle. And today we are going to be talking to Cedrick Frazier, a union-side labor attorney for the Education Minnesota, which is the largest labor union in the state, as well as a city councilman for New Hope and the DFL endorsed candidate for state representative in District 45A, which includes the cities of Plymouth, New Hope, and Crystal. Welcome to the show, Cedric.
 
[00:26:52.040] - Cedrick Frazier, Guest
Thank you, Candi. It's a pleasure to be here 
 
[00:26:54.170] - Candi Broeffle, Host
And we are so happy you're with us today. So, we are trying to get to know our candidates a little bit better so that we can really understand who we are voting for in our August 11th primaries. So, to start us off, why don't you tell us what made you decide to run for office this year?
 
[00:27:14.900] - Cedrick Frazier, Guest
Sure. Thanks for the question. Well, part of it is I believe we elect a representative or have a representative. You should have someone that has proximity to the issues that they're addressing. And the big part of that is because I believe when you can govern or govern with the lens of empathy, it makes you a better representative and a better advocate. A lot of the issues that we face in our state, as you know, we have these we have some of these disparities in our state that are deeper than some other states within this country. But we have a lot of resources in the state. I have proximity to many of those disparities that we have. I mean, when I grew up, I suffered through two evictions of the housing affordability issue and homeland security. I was also, my parents were when we were on public assistance, I stood in those food lines. So, the food and security pieces and also I didn't go, I didn't attend a school system that was one of the best in the country. And we have a huge disparity in educational opportunity gaps here in the state of Minnesota. So, for me, it's about having the opportunity to be a representative in government with that lens of empathy, because I've lived those experiences and I want to make sure that no one has to go through that, that we can close those gaps and nobody gets left behind.
 
[00:28:29.790] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Okay, so really right now, in the light of the COVID-19 health crisis, with people losing their employer-provided health care and others really having difficulty paying their premiums even when they are getting maybe reduced premiums, what ideas do you have to assure access to affordable health care for all of our residents?
 
[00:28:50.510] - Cedrick Frazier, Guest
Well, I think one of the biggest things we have to expand to ensure open it up. I think the problem that we have in this country is that we have a large part, we have our health care tied to our employment. And as we've seen with the COVID-19, in the pandemic, a lot of the unemployment that was happening with the layoffs or just businesses are shutting down that become problematic. We've had people that now lack medical coverage and what we've seen in other countries in Europe that have kind of gotten this thing right and are bringing the numbers down. They have what I call a people-first perspective when they legislated when they are governing. I mean, so it's all, to me, it seems like the lens that they are governing by is what's going to be the best thing for the people that we're governing, for the people of our country, the people of our cities. And if you look at Medicare for all or universal system where everybody is going to have access to quality health care, not tied to unemployment, I think you're going to have better outcomes with that. So, for me, it's about creating a system, find a way to get Minnesota, where we can get to a system where all Minnesotans will have access to health care regardless of what their employment status is.
 
[00:29:56.930] - Candi Broeffle, Host
What are your viewpoints on if somebody wants to keep their employer-assisted?
 
[00:30:03.830] - Cedrick Frazier, Guest
So, I think we can have a hybrid system. I think that's, I don't think anything's wrong with that. The one thing I always say, and I get this question, I've been in labor and working with the union side, some of my union colleagues, brothers and sisters, we don't want to lose the health care medical coverage, that is what we fought so hard to get it, that's great coverage. And the one question I always posed to them, as I say, what we have to think about when we make that comment is that there are tons of people that don't have access to health care. So, we want to make sure we don't shut the conversation down and say, well, we've got something really good for everybody else, but we've got something really good. You all figure it out. So I don't sit down, of course, I think that can be a hybrid model. If there are some things out there that employers can have access to, that is better than that may be different than what you can access publicly. But the bottom line is we've got to create a system where everybody is going to have access to quality care, regardless of what your employment status is. 
 
[00:31:02.300] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Right. So, in your opinion, what types of natural health care should be covered with health insurance?
 
[00:31:08.140] - Cedrick Frazier, Guest
So, I think things like chiropractic adjustments should be covered. Acupuncture is a big one. I haven't had the chance to experience acupuncture yet, but I feel really good.
 
[00:31:20.600] - Candi Broeffle, Host
I can tell you a few really good acupuncture as, say, you might want to talk to.
 
[00:31:25.150] - Cedrick Frazier, Guest
I would appreciate that. I'm a former athlete, and so I've got some things that I still deal with now from a football player. So I got some things that I deal with now that I know are from those playing days that I had. I mean, backaches, ankle issues, some I got some hip things that are going on, knee issues that are going on. And one of the things when I played as an athlete, I always enjoyed the fact and I appreciate the fact that I had a trainer that wasn't really keen on loading up on the drugs to deal with the pain. He always tried to give you options, whether it be stretching, meditation, therapeutic massage, try to give you other options to heal from those types of injuries, deal with the pain. And so for me, that's why I think about the therapeutic pieces, the acupuncture, the chiropractic adjustments, and also the therapeutic massage, for me, those are healthier ways to heal. Those are healthy ways to recover from injury. And it's overall better for your body. I believe you're not putting these chemicals in that have these really strange and odd side effects and damaging side effects. So, those are kind of things that I think should be those should be, absolutely as a basic standard included in medical coverage, health coverage.
 
[00:32:46.420] - Candi Broeffle, Host
So, prescription drug prices are continuing to rise even for life-saving drugs that people need, such as insulin, which has been around really for diabetics for decades now. What do you see as the impetus of these rising costs? And how can you be sure that people get what they need to live healthy, happy lives?
 
[00:33:06.820] - Cedrick Frazier, Guest
So, we had Representative Mike Howard. There was a bill that was passed, the insulin bill act that was passed to bring those down. And what it did was put it put a cap on how much you'd actually have to pay for insulin to keep it affordable. I mean, those are great ways, I think, to do that. We can do that from a legislative perspective and state law perspective. I even think that when we're looking at when we look at any prescription drugs, if we've got pharmaceutical manufacturers that are selling these drugs in certain places for a substantially lower price, I think about Canada, for one example. They are doing a pretty good job of reining in those prices and keeping them down. And just little they have a public health care system everybody has access to. Right. But they do a pretty good job training those prices in from the pharmaceutical companies. And I don't see why we can't do things like that or at the minimum, open up an exchange system where our residents would have access to look at those rates in Canada to make sure they can get the medications that they need. And you're right. I mean, some of these are lifesaving medications that they need. When you speak about insulin, we shouldn't have people having to make decisions between should I eat tonight, should I pay my rent or should I get the medicine that I need to live that that shouldn't happen. That was the impetus and the impetus of the bill that Representative Howard brought was because someone had to ration, young man, have to ration his insulin and he didn't survive. And we should never have in the country with this kind of wealth, in a state with these kinds of resources, we should never have that big decision, that someone has to make.
 
[00:34:38.890] - Candi Broeffle, Host
How about what do you see as the most important issue facing education today?
 
[00:34:45.340] - Cedrick Frazier, Guest
Well, I think I mentioned earlier that we have this we have we have some incredible opportunity gaps that we need to fill and enclose. And the problem with that is that the first and foremost opportunity gaps are our loss of income and also our black and brown kids within this state was problematic, really problematic about that for the future of the state. When you're talking about a state that builds itself on how great education is. And that's what spurred a lot of the economic, the economic engine of this country with the Fortune 500 companies that we have here, they come here expecting that they're going to have talented citizens that can go into the jobs and continue to grow the economy. But if you don't, if we don't educate those citizens, well, if we don't figure out a way to close opportunity gaps, there's going to be a real, real problem with that in the future, with the future of our state. And the other thing, just immediately thinking because of COVID-19, we've got to figure out a way to have effective long-distance learning for all of our students in an equitable way. Again, with the opportunity gap that's only been exasperated by the fact that we've been doing long-distance learning and we were not prepared for it.
 
[00:35:52.450] - Candi Broeffle, Host
So we have a lot of work to do in our country when it comes to addressing systematic racism. In your opinion, what do you see as the most pressing issues that need to be addressed immediately, and what are your initial ideas to do so?
 
[00:36:08.650] - Cedrick Frazier, Guest
So one of the most pressing now, obviously, with we all got to witness for those who were able to watch it. We got the witness to the killing of George Floyd by a police officer. And so, one of the most pressing things now is to figure out a way and put some things in place to hold officers accountable when that happens. I don't crusade to say that all officers are like that. I have a good relationship with our police chief here in the city of New Hope. Often time I meet we meet like once or once a quarter. I meet with a few Northwest suburban police chiefs and community members who talk about police and community relations. So, I don't think that all police are bad. But I will say we do have a system that has created a mindset where the officers have believed that I can do these things and there's not going to be any harm or accountability brought to me. One of the things we have a post-board that that is responsible for licensing our police officers.
 
[00:37:05.590] - Candi Broeffle, Host
And when you say, post board, it's peace officers standards and Training Board.
 
[00:37:12.310] - Cedrick Frazier, Guest
That is correct. That is correct. Thank you. Thank you, Candi. All these acronyms that you know. That post board is responsible in Minnesota was one of the first in the country to kind of regulate and have a formal process for this and require credentials for our police officers, which is a great thing. But we've not kept up in terms of, with twenty-first-century policing in order to also have that as a way to hold our officers accountable. One of the big conversations you hear about now is how do we prevent officers when they go out and they do something egregious from just moving on to the next jurisdiction and then getting it and then continue with that certification to be out on the street again with the post-board is a way that we could deal with, that they could take the license away. They could investigate right away. They can remove the license, suspend the license. And when that is done, a lot of the conversation right now has been around arbitration. But if the post-board removes the license, it doesn't matter what the outcome is in an arbitration process because the officer no longer has a license and you need a license in this state in order to be a peace officer. And I compare that to my working with educators in our... We have a board that is known as Pells because the Professional Education Licensing Board and that board does the same thing, issues licenses and it takes license away. And when the license is not there, you can't teach. Same with the officers. You take the license away. They can't be on the street continuing to perpetuate the system where they're black and brown lives don't seem to matter.
 
[00:38:40.600] - Candi Broeffle, Host
And I think one thing that people don't really understand is that Minnesota is one of only a few states that actually have a licensing requirement for police officers.
 
[00:38:49.660] - Cedrick Frazier, Guest
That is correct.
 
[00:38:51.370] - Candi Broeffle, Host
So thank you so much for being with us today. We are so glad that you could be a part of this. To learn more about the issues that are important to Cedrick, visit CedrickFraizer.com. To read the online edition of Natural Awakenings magazine or to check out our complete online calendar of events, visit NaturalTwinCities.com. You're listening to AM950, the Progressive Voice of Minnesota.
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