The Potluck

Diana Hawkins appointed to Minneapolis Charter Commission as it embarks on monumental year

By: - January 26, 2021 3:07 pm

Diana Hawkins. Photo courtesy of Minneapolis Youth Coordinating Board.

Diana Hawkins was appointed to the Minneapolis Charter Commission to replace Al Giraud-Isaacson, who resigned in August, 2020. 

Hawkins, who has served as executive director on the Hawthorne Neighborhood Council since January 2015, joins the Charter Commission at a crucial time. The City Council is considering two charter amendments, which are like amendments to the city’s constitution. One would dismantle the current police department and replace it with a new entity, while another would introduce a rent stabilization regime. The commission is also considering its own amendment that would strengthen the mayor’s office. If they make the ballot, voters would decide on the amendments in November. 

Hawkins, who is Black, is joining a largely white body, which has been criticized for not representing the city’s diverse population. Last year, the commission successfully delayed a City Council effort to put an amendment on the 2020 ballot that would have eliminated the police department and created a new public safety agency under the authority of the council.  

The Reformer obtained Hawkins’ application through a public records request, but the Minneapolis City Clerk’s office redacted Hawkins’ answers to why she wanted to serve on the commission and what issues she believed the committee should address. She was appointed by Hennepin County Chief Judge Toddrick S. Barnette. 

In August, former charter commissioner Al Giraud-Isaacson resigned his seat on the commission. In his resignation letter to the chief judge, he called for a replacement who represents what the city of Minneapolis looks like. 

A person of color should replace my seat as I am one of only three who identify as such,” Giraud-Isaacson wrote. “The commission will soon embark on city ward redistricting and having more people of color at the table will be critical. All voices need to be represented.”

Hawkins has been named a Comcast Hero of Volunteerism and won a Governor’s Volunteer Award and the Minneapolis Community Award. She lobbied at the Legislature for a new school — Nellie Stone Johnson School — in the Hawthorne area. Hawkins is a member of the Northside Urban Coalition, a drug-free community project, where she’s focusing on the opioid crisis. 

Hawkins applied for the commission on Oct. 28 and beat out at least 12 other applicants, according to Charter Commission Chairman Barry Clegg. Her first meeting was on Jan. 6.

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Gracie Stockton
Gracie Stockton

Gracie Stockton is a senior at the University of Minnesota. She was awarded the 2021 Kaufman scholarship from the Hubbard School of Journalism & Mass Communication and joined the Reformer as an intern. Gracie also studies theatre and Russian, and is an artist in her free time.