PLANS

HOUSING

TAXES
End property tax hikes that are making rent unaffordable for our city’s low income residents and working poor.
Keep the per capita tax rate constant to stop the loss of homeownership and gentrification in our city.

PUBLIC HOUSING
• Convert deteriorating housing units to the Federal-recommended R.A.D. program, to allow immediate repairs to take place.
• Empower the incoming MPHA Director, Greg Russ, to build on his successes in Cambridge, MA.
• Prioritize floor-space efficiency for public grant process.

HOMELESSNESS
Reduce homelessness by 800 cases each year, through a three-person team directly led by Mayor.
Prohibit criminalization of homelessness in Minneapolis.

Business

• Facilitate minimum wage increase with “On Track to Fifteen” program, whereby businessess file their own plans to attain a $15 minimum wage in their businesses by 2022, and are rewarded for sticking to it.
Establish the Comprehensive Small Business Office, to provide proactive outreach, guidance, and multilingual support to new and developing entrepreneurs.

Create an elected Small Business Council to create annual strategy to make Minneapolis friendly to growth.

Renegotiate Sewage Access Fee, a massive fee charged by the Met Council, so that entrepreneurs can start their businesses without such a massive charge.

Policing

• Hire 100 officers over 4 years to bring the MPD staffing numbers up to par for a city our size.
• Maximize recruitment of black, latino, female and/or low income officers through a 4-year-long recruitment drive led by the Mayor.
• Create, endorse, and push legislation through to mandate professional liability insurance for police.

EDUCATION

• Make MCTC free by 2021. (Thorough plan to be released in early March at a speech.)

CIvIL RIGHTS

Commission LGBTQ civil rights plan, to be created by the Civil Rights Department, in deep collaboration with advocacy groups.
Create New American Family Pairing program to connect newly-arrived residents with volunteering families, and promote integration and a support network.
• Take a Refugee Oath to do everything within the power of the Office of Mayor to protect refugees and immigrants from refoulement (return to an unsafe place). Oath to be taken in May 2017.

Government

• Prohibit referendum obstruction by introducing and championing legislation to make it harder for City Council to impede ballot questions as they did in 2015.
Cut Mayor’s salary in half to match average household income in Minneapolis.
• Perform departmental efficiency checks of each City Department (1-3 weeks for each department) and create optimization strategies for each. Repeat annually.
Host annual Neighborhood Congress where elected representatives of each Minneapolis neighborhood meet to discuss issues of mutual importance, and review the Mayor’s budget.
• Mandate that all neighborhoods must have paid staff to ensure advocacy and proper spending.

Health

• Use NMR settlement funds to test blood of any child within 1 mile radius of factory.

• Commission Ten Year Mental Health Progress Plan, to be made in conjunction with relevant city departments and advocacy organizations.

Environment

• Ensure NMR held accountable for decades-long pollution, and surrounding health effects. Draw out highest possible settlement and transparently distribute settlement funds.
• Bring the GAF factory regulation up to same level as remainder of city. This is one of the biggest polluters in Minneapolis.
• Commission and enact Reforestation Plan to replenish city tree density, raise property values, and improve air quality.

Spending

• End property tax hikes that are making rent unaffordable for our city’s low income residents and working poor.
• Keep the per capita tax rate constant to stop the loss of homeownership and gentrification in our city.
Hold year-round Budget Participation sessions and democratize the budgeting process. Residents can influence how public dollars are spent.
Prohibit departmental financial surplus usage, and reward city officials for saving costs and optimizing their departments.

INFRASTRUCTURE

• Immediately wrap up any current vanity construction project. That means any project without CLIC endorsement and/or clear, direct need for city.
• Invest only in CLIC-approved infrastructure projects. Projects must be in the top quarter of CLIC recommendations to be considered for investment.
• Create and endorse legislation to prevent non-CLIC-approved projects from ever receiving investment.

BIO

PROFESSIONAL

Aswar is a Minneapolitan filmmaker, UX Designer, and entrepreneur.

Aswar has worked for the Office of Mayor R.T. Rybak (2007-2010) as Youth Policy Assistant and in the Minneapolis Police Department’s Juvenile Diversion Program (2009). Note: former Mayor Rybak hasn’t endorsed a candidate in the 2017 race.

As a filmmaker, Aswar has produced eight feature films, seven in the United States and one in his birth country of Bangladesh. He is the founder of Cineapolis, an emerging independent film studio in Minneapolis.

Parallel to his film work, Aswar is an User Experience Designer, primarily working with non-profits and social enterprises in the Twin Cities. (User Experience, or UX, is a field within software and web development dedicated to optimizing a product for the most seamless and productive user interaction.)

Aswar is the owner and chief organizer of the Mespies, an annual film festival hosted at the Heights Theater that blends local and international films on the basis of cinematic courage, ambition, and innovativeness.

PERSONAL

Aswar is a first-generation American from a Bangladeshi military family, raised by a single mother.

Born in an Army hospital in Dhaka, Aswar grew up within the Bangladeshi military culture — an exceptionally wealthy crust of an exceptionally poor country. The lifestyle offered the finest things, but the school options were limited.

His mother was determined to give her children the best education she could. Partly by chance, mostly be sheer grit, Salveen secured a visa to the United States, settled in south Minneapolis, volunteered at the late Longfellow Elementary, which then turned into a job. On her journey to make herself and her children into Americans, she was helped by some of the kindest, most magnanimous people, to whom the the family is forever grateful.

Growing up in Minneapolis for the school year and Bangladesh for the summers gave Aswar a stark view of the disparities that exist in the world, and the systems that create them. Driving in shiny government cars past slums in July and waiting for the bus on a snow-covered Nicollet Mall in February gave Aswar a keen sense of history and design, both of which he later pursued in college.

Aswar attended Longfellow Elementary in the south, Sheridan in Northeast, Southwest High School, and graduated from the University of Minnesota at the age of 19.

Upon graduation, Aswar embarked on a series of independent film productions. In 2016, he secured a Minnesota State Arts Board grant for his latest feature, Soirée. His interest in User Experience Design peaked with his abilities as a freelance web designer. Realizing that the future will rely heavily on the interaction between people and computers, Aswar resolved to dedicate a part of his efforts to scrutinize and understand that relationship, and how to optimize it.

This inclination towards optimization is crucial to understanding Aswar. Having witnessed the very real impact that systemic inefficiencies have on people, Aswar is a firm believer that, as he phrases in his personal motto: “the Good is Efficient and Efficiency is Good.” So he creates and refines systems to be of the greatest benefit to the greatest number of people.

Aswar’s favorite writers are the historians Will and Ariel Durant, the war journalist-philosopher Albert Camus, and the novelist Nikos Kazantzakis.

Aswar refuses to name a favorite film, but the one that has had the most effect on him is “Cool Hand Luke.”

Aswar gets his news from the BBC, Reuters, and the Economist, with occasional commentary from Slate and the Atlantic.

Aswar is a supporter of the World Food Programme.

WHY RUN FOR MAYOR?

“I wanted to learn more about the engine, so I looked at it closely, and saw that the engine is breaking down.”

Aswar’s fascination with how a largely well-functioning, liberal city like Minneapolis operates led him to look closer at the resources and processes that make up the city.

External Motivations

When he saw Betsy Hodges’ 2017 budget, he immediately knew he had to run. The budget’s many inefficiencies and thorough shortsightedness were exemplified by the ridiculously unnecessary $11m Convention Center Plaza remodelling plan — a project that is objectively low-priority, decadent, and will in all likelihood never come close to seeing a return-on-investment.

If you read the Personal section above, you know that Aswar can’t stand systemic inefficiencies, especially when they cause human suffering. The individual property tax rate hikes year after year in the Hodges administration are, as he calls it, “misery spread thin” and “both the cause and symptom of many of the city’s problems.”

Aswar is vying for the leadership of the city to effect changes immediately to the direction of the city and to nip the budding City Hall culture of lax spending, weak checks-and-balances, and subsequent mayoral overreach.

Internal Motivations

Aswar is, as a person, very well suited for this job. By personal nature, Aswar puts in 12+ hour workdays, skips weekends without noticing, lacks interest in liquor, tobacco, and drugs, reads information-rich texts at every opportunity (his dining table is basically a library).

Less by nature and more by intentional habituation, Aswar is an effective collaborator. He follows the theory of Scipio Africanus: that in developing a strategy, one should take advice from every single source he can find and discriminate in his own mind — but that in executing a strategy, a strong leader must be able to coordinate resources, be a source of inspiration and motivation, and take responsibility for all failures, always encouraging the best in others and demanding the same from themselves.

Aswar’s collaborative and leadership skills have been refined through the eight film productions he has organized and led. His abilities in optimizing systems have found a more suitable home in his UX work, whereas his work ethic has found an outlet in his various entrepreneurial pursuits, such as Cineapolis and the Mespies.

SOME STORIES
  • Aswar once talked his way onto a transcontinental flight from Bangladesh to New York, without a ticket.
  • Part of the reason Aswar’s mother immigated to the US was because Aswar failed to get into a somewhat decent private school in Bangladesh around the age of 6. Why did he fail? Because of things like saying the alphabet but backwards, and when the testers asked him to name the national animals of Bangladesh, he named all those of Australia. Asked why he did that, his answer was that if he didn’t know the national animals of Bangladesh, how could he know those of Australia?
  • Personal record for cars helped out of the snow in a single day: 9. Oh, what a climate!
  • Besides directing, Aswar sometimes performs in his own films. His performance as Mehdi Hassan in the Bangladeshi horror film “Mehdi+Priya” was very well received.
  • He has lived in every side of town: Park Avenue in south Minneapolis, University Avenue in Northeast, Como Avenue in Dinkytown, Humboldt Ave N, Humboldt Ave S.
  • In Dhaka, Aswar confronted a thuggish man in a bazaar for refusing to pay his rickshaw puller. It turned into an all-out brawl with people hospitalized. (He has since sworn off physical violence as anything but a last resort.)
  • While in high school, Aswar won a trip to Europe for writing an essay on the fall of the Berlin Wall.
  • Aswar graduated with his undergrad at 19 by two means: taking many AP Tests (though at the time he was taking it to get out of class); and simply skipping senior year of his high school and going to a liberal arts college that accepted people early under the condition they get a GED. Aswar transferred from there to the UofM, so he has no high school diploma or a GED, but has completed his Bachelors.
  • Aswar composes first drafts of screenplays very quickly, regularly finishing feature-length scripts in a few days. He invests much more time on revisions.

VIDEOS

Watch Aswar’s campaign videos to gain an intimate understanding of his plans, and a firsthand feel for his passion for our city.

Watch on Facebook

EVENTS

JUST SHOW UP. That’s how Aswar’s events work. Find an event on the calendar (on Facebook) and simply show up!

VIEW ALL EVENTS

CONNECT

Aswar’s 200 Week Plan

WHAT DO YOU WANT IN THE LEADER OF MINNEAPOLIS? TELL ASWAR DIRECTLY:
ASWAR@VOTEASWAR.COM