UPDATE: Minneapolis City Council approves city coordinator appointee during Thursday meeting
UPDATE: The Minneapolis City Council approved Mayor Jacob Frey’s appointment for city coordinator during its meeting Thursday.
According to KSTP Reporter Eric Chaloux, the council approved Frey’s nomination of Heather Johnston to the position, with a vote of 8-5.
Below is a statement from Johnston:
“I’m grateful to Mayor Frey and Council for this appointment and look forward to having the opportunity to continue working with staff on the difficult issues facing the city, including addressing the concerns of anti-blackness and racism raised by city staff.”
Johnston has been the city’s interim city coordinator for the last nine months and some employees voiced concerns over a toxic work environment that they say was present before Johnston started and hasn’t improved.
An earlier version of this report appears below.
The Minneapolis City Council is expected to consider Mayor Jacob Frey’s appointment for city coordinator during its meeting Thursday morning.
However, before the meeting began, a group of current and former city staffers held a news conference and called on the council to reject Frey’s nomination.
As 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS reported last month, some of the city’s workers asked the council to reject Heather Johnston for city coordinator.
Johnston has been the city’s Interim City Coordinator for the last nine months, however, some employees are concerned a toxic work environment—which they say was present before Johnston started—hasn’t improved.
“When you start a position, and you have staff explicitly come forward with issues that have happened at the enterprise before your time and letting you know that those still actively – currently – are happening, and you make decisions to not address those, then to reinforce them by shutting down equity based work by treating Black and Brown staff inappropriately in comparison to White staff, that you are making it worse,” said city staffer Gina Obiri.
5 EYEWITNESS NEWS has reached out to Johnston for comment after Thursday’s news conference, and are still waiting to hear back.
Johnston needs approval from the council to take over for a set four-year term, but since the complaints, the council has been waiting for an HR investigation to end.
Frey said he supports Johnston’s work experience, but is eager to hear the findings from the investigation.
Council member Elliott Payne voiced his concerns after hearing from city workers.
“I think what we experienced in the public hearing on Tuesday was unprecedented for this institution to see so many staff speak up about the conditions of what its like to work here,” Payne said.
Johnston also spoke last month, and asked for approval for her position.
“I do want to continue working to change these systems and develop a culture that is inclusive, innovative, anti-racist and equitable for all of our employees,” Johnston said.
Thursday’s meeting began at 9:30 a.m.
You can watch the full news conference held ahead of the meeting below.