Ginger Jentzen has emerged as a leading voice in the $15 minimum wage movement in Minneapolis, serving as the Executive Director of 15 Now Minnesota since 2014, until stepping down to continue her fight with low-wage workers by running for Minneapolis City Council Ward 3 under the banner of Socialist Alternative.
On January 25, Ginger announced her campaign to a cheering crowd of 250 at a rally on how cities like Minneapolis can resist Trump’s billionaire-backed agenda, alongside Socialist Alternative’s Seattle city council member Kshama Sawant.
Last weekend, as Trump assumed power in Washington D.C., millions of ordinary people took to the streets. In the largest day of protest in U.S. history, we Inaugurated the Resistance to Trump and his billionaire government, with over 100,000 in the Twin Cities. The resistance is alive and well, and it can bring down Donald Trump. Let’s not forget that previous generations beat back slave-owners, hate-mongers, war-mongers, and billionaires — and won.
We have the potential power to defeat Trump. After last weekend’s massive protest and Trump’s record low approval ratings, it’s clear that his anti-worker, billionaire backed agenda doesn’t have a popular mandate. The central question facing our movement is: what strategy can beat Trump? How can we translate the mass opposition we saw last weekend into an ongoing, powerful movement to actually block Trump’s billionaire agenda — from City Hall, to the State Capitol, and at the national level?
I think the answer is clear: We won’t inspire the kind of mass movement we need by simply offering another version of the status quo of inequality and corporate corruption. The best way to defeat Trump is to unify our movements behind a positive vision for social change, by challenging the corporate establishment of both parties. By offering a bold vision for socialist change, for a $15 minimum wage, for affordable housing for all, for free quality medicare for all, for a society free from racism, sexism, and environmental destruction. As Bernie Sanders’ campaign proved, the best way to inspire the kind of mass movement we need to win is by linking our opposition to the right-wing with a wider movement against the billionaire class.
What we heard from Kshama tonight — what we have seen in Seattle — is that it is possible for our cities to become centers of resistance to the billionaire class. We can and must do the same here in Minneapolis. But we need political representatives in City Hall who will fight unambiguously for working people and oppressed communities. We need political leaders who refuse corporate donations, who have proven themselves as uncompromising fighters, and who come out of our movements. That is not possible if you have loyalty to a political party trying to serve two bosses, that is trying to represent both big business and working class people.
That is why, tonight, I am announcing my candidacy for Minneapolis City Council right here in Ward 3, running as a proud member of Socialist Alternative.
The starting point for my campaign is that our power comes from social movements. Today marks the sixth anniversary of an event that shook the world. On January 25th, 2011, young people in Egypt began the occupation of Tahrir Square, sparking a revolution. Through mass occupations and strikes, workers and students in Egypt overthrew Hosni Mubarak, a powerful US-backed dictator who had ruled for decades. The Egyptian Revolution sparked the Occupy Movement worldwide and a new era of mass resistance to the Billionaire Class, to systemic racism and sexism, for a sustainable planet. If the Egyptians could topple Mubarak in 2011, we can defeat Trump today!
Minneapolis has a vibrant immigrant and Muslim community, which will be disproportionately impacted by right-wing attacks. Tens of thousands of Minneapolis workers will be affected by anti-union laws and state level pre-emption of a $15/hr minimum wage.
The job description of our elected officials needs to be expanded. We need elected officials who are equally comfortable with the immediate tasks in City Hall as they are with the grassroots movement building we will need to stop these attacks on Minneapolis residents. We need elected officials who are not afraid to stand up to big business and the Chamber of Commerce, and who are not compromised by corporate campaign contributions.
I’ve spent two years fighting to win $15/hr in Minneapolis, for a proposal supported by 68% of Minneapolis residents and confirmed viable by the City of Minneapolis’ own study. One of the most effective tools big business had to block us was the Democratic Party bending to the pressure of big business inside City Hall.
Let’s talk about priorities in Minneapolis. Minneapolis residents paid $825 million for the construction of US Bank stadium, and refurbishing the Target Center, for a billionaire and a bank invested in the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Imagine if we used that money to fix the broken for-profit housing system that’s pricing working class residents and students out of Minneapolis. It’s enough money to build over 4,000 units of affordable, high quality, city-owned housing units, providing thousands of unionized jobs and reducing rents. In addition to union jobs for affordable housing, we need stronger renter protections to target slumlords like Steven Franz, as our friends in Inquilinos Unidos are doing right now, and we need to organize a movement with renters to end the statewide preemption of rent control.
Black Lives Matter one of the most important social movements that has developed over the last decade, exposing the deep structural racism in this country. But what has the city done about it? Our communities have been rocked by police violence: Jamar Clark, Philando Castile. Let’s be clear that at a minimum, we need an elected civilian review board with real teeth, with hiring and firing power, with actual powers of the police budget and priorities. But what has the city done? Instead of any structural reform, the city establishment gave the police more money.
Many of the crises facing working people in Minneapolis are clear to see in Ward 3. To address the contradictions of development in the interests of our communities and the crisis of low-wages, we can’t rely on politicians that say they’re against gentrification but take money from the profit-driven big developers that are rapidly making this city unaffordable for low-income communities. I pledge to refuse any donations from business interests, and as a city council member, I’d only take the average wage of a worker in this Ward, donating half of my $80,000 salary to social movements.
Our resistance, our fightback, is a call to action.
In 2013, Socialist Alternative ran a deep grassroots campaigns that nearly elected Ty Moore in Minneapolis, and elected an unapologetic working class fighter, Kshama Sawant, in Seattle. And I can promise you this: We will run the boldest grassroots campaign this year, based on donations from regular working people, knocking on every door, building the resistance movement that stops Trump’s agenda in its tracks. Taking no corporate money, and built on our own power.
Imagine what we can do with an unapologetic working class fighter in City Council. Victories against slumlords; the first major city to pass $15/hr — that’s not unique to Seattle. We can do that here!
Get involved in my campaign!
If you’re a socialist, consider joining my organization Socialist Alternative.
In either case, let’s build a fundamentally different world.