Brooklyn Center Mayor’s Minutes: Welcome Mayor April Graves and New City Council
New Brooklyn Center Mayor April Graves discussed how her first month and a half has been in this Brooklyn Center Mayor’s Minutes. She also welcomed the new city council members and promoted a learning opportunity in the city.
Graves’ Experiences as Mayor
Graves took over as Brooklyn Center Mayor in January after winning the election against Mayor Mike Elliott in November. She noted that the position has been a lot to take in, and she has been speaking with many members of the public since taking office.
“There was tons of people that wanted to connect with me, congratulate me, but also see how they could connect with the work that we’re doing in the city,” Graves said.
In addition to serving as mayor, Graves has a full-time job and is a mother.
“The additional responsibilities of being mayor definitely has been a challenge. But I’ve done a good job, I think, maintaining some healthy expectations and setting personal boundaries so I can continue to show up at my best.”
New City Council Members
The city also has two new city council members: Dan Jerzak and Teneshia Kragness. Graves said she got to know them both during the campaign season, and both have previous experience with the city. Jerzak has been employed by the city in different positions for 14 years, experience that Graves thinks will serve the council well.
“He’s got some of that insider knowledge that’s helpful in decision making.”
Kragness has been on Brooklyn Center’s Financial Commission for many years, serving as chair for four years, and Graves also acknowledged her valuable experience.
Council Goal Setting
The previous council started working with Common Sense Consulting a few years ago to work on team building and ways for the city to improve. Following that, this new council had its first retreat with the consulting company in February to focus on important issues for the city and setting strategic priorities. Graves said the council worked on getting to know each other and establishing a culture of working with one another.
“We also decided to focus a lot on supporting our staff over these next few months. The last few years have been really difficult in the city,” said Graves. “There’s been a lot of turnover, and so we wanted to make sure that we’re supporting our staff moving forward. And letting them know how much we appreciate the work they do.”
Graves said the council is planning to start having quarterly meetings with department heads to stay updated on their work and to give the directors an opportunity to speak to the council.
Emerging Brooklyn Center
The work of the group Emerging Brooklyn Center has been going on for a little over a year. The group is made up of residents wanting to work at improving equity, public safety, businesses, and more. Graves has been part of the first cohort of 40 individuals.
She said Emerging BC has been participating in learning journeys and weekend retreats. They’ve focused on building empathy and understanding for others and the historical implications of racism and redlining. She says she’s been thinking about how to make “equitable policies, procedures and get the whole community behind some of those changes so we can better serve everyone in our community.”
Emerging BC has a community dinner on Friday, May 12 from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at the Heritage Center. Community members and those who are interested in being a part of the second cohort are welcome to attend. Please RSVP by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I think it’s a great opportunity,” Graves said. “I strongly encourage folks to [join].”