2019 Candidate Spotlight: Janet Kennedy

  • Nov 1, 2019
  • Janet Kennedy, Emerge Bootcamp '19

I am running for Duluth Minnesota 5th District City Council because it’s time we make a difference together in building a Western community of neighborhoods with opportunities for everyone to live, work, and thrive. I believe a community can only survive and prosper as a whole when everyone is walking on even ground. Four years ago, I ran for city council in Western Duluth because I realized that your zip code too often meant that you would face certain disparities.  In certain neighborhoods, residents were even found to have an average life expectancy of 11 years less than their counterparts in a town five miles away, and most of the people impacted are minorities, working families and individuals living on the West side of town.

​As a lifelong Duluthian, I have deep roots in Western Duluth. There is a long legacy of military service in my family and we moved here in the 1960s for the Air Base. My father served in Korea, my uncle served in Vietnam, my brother was a sailor in the Navy and my grandson is currently active duty Army reserve. My family has served our country, our church and our community and I want to pay it forward by serving as Duluth’s District 5 City Councilor.

For 25 years,  I worked in the medical field as a physical therapy assistant and as a Director of Rehab and Program Director for PT, OT and Speech. My professional experience helped me to learn how to meet people where they are in life. I value open communication as a way to encourage problem-solving to reach measurable goals and I believe that these skills are directly transferrable to the role of city councilor. Personally, I have faced a lot of challenges as a black woman growing up in a predominantly white community. I credit my resiliency to watching my mom work hard to get her education despite having the odds stacked against her. Luckily, I have had many mentors who challenged me to grow and to become the change I want to see in my community. Leadership is in all of us and stepping up to meet the challenges means dwelling in possibilities.

That is why I was so grateful to attend the Emerge Midwest Boot Camp in Chicago. It was an opportunity that I could not pass up, especially since it was around the time when my city council campaign was just beginning to kick off. I wanted to ensure that I was armed with all the skills I needed to run a winning campaign. At the training, I connected with Democratic women leaders from across the country who were just as passionate as I was to change their communities. I knew it was where I needed to be and one of the many highlights came when I received a phone call from our Local Professional Firefighters saying that I had earned their endorsement. It would be the first of many that I have received during this campaign.

If I am elected, I will continue working to decrease social and economic disparities in Duluth. No longer will our residents’ zip codes determine whether they have healthy food to eat, good housing or a safe and healthy environment to live in.  I have a stronger vision for how to build policy-based solutions and strategies that will improve people’s life outcomes. Western Duluth neighbors deserve a councilor with a fresh vision not just for today but that will have a lasting impact for generations to come. ​