What issue compelled you to apply for a seat on the Council?
I have operated with a justice lens (social justice, economic justice, environmental justice) throughout my life as an activist, an elected official, and in the community work I do now. The systems and authorities of the Met Council provide opportunity to create a more equitable region in these areas.
What do you think is most on the minds of people in your district?
The lack of affordable housing and the impact of transportation — and especially transit investments – are areas of high priority in my district.
What will be your priority focus area in 2019?
In the summer of 2018, I became very involved in the community’s response to the Franklin/Hiawatha homeless encampment, especially through the Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors (MUID). My involvement in issues of unsheltered homelessness has continued through the Regional Unsheltered Homelessness Design Workgroup convened by the MN State Interagency Council on Homelessness. As we strive for a regional approach to prevent and end homelessness, and in consideration of the proposed Green Line service changes, I hope to use my position as Chair of the Community Development Committee to fully leverage Met Council resources in designing a more effective model.
What changes would you like to see in the Twin Cities region by 2040?
By 2024 I’d like to see:
All parts of the region are adequately served by transit
Housing options at all levels of affordability are available in all our communities
Opportunities for success in life are equitably distributed throughout our region, and not determined by zip code
More personally, what do you like to do when you’re not working?
I love to cook and to try new, ever more challenging recipes and techniques. I try to get up to the North Shore as often as I can.
Robert Lilligren lives in south Minneapolis and represents District 7, which includes north Minneapolis, downtown Minneapolis, south-central Minneapolis, and Robbinsdale.
Lilligren has extensive experience in local government, specifically in housing, transportation, community development, and community engagement. He served on the Minneapolis City Council from 2001 to 2014, including as Council Vice President for 12 of those years, and as a leader on several city commissions and collaborative groups. He also served on the Metropolitan Council’s Transportation Advisory Board for 12 years while a local elected official.
He works as an executive at the Native American Community Development Institute, and previously served as CEO of the Little Earth United Tribes. Prior to his local government service, he worked as a housing developer and general contractor, building and managing affordable housing in south Minneapolis.
Lilligren said he will focus on equity, particularly in local economic development in the region, as a Council member. He hopes to bring his experience as a facilitator and consensus builder to his work as a Council member, and tap into the values and interests of the communities and stakeholders.
“Advancing equity in our region is the best expression and means of progress toward Gov. Walz’s vision of One Minnesota. I am passionate about community engagement and inclusive decision-making. We have our best successes when we engage collectively with a broad range of stakeholders. It is a core value of mine to honor all perspectives,” Lilligren said.
Lilligren’s education background includes studies in music, English, French and education at the University of Minnesota and Macalester College, leadership courses at the National League of Cities University, and two leadership development programs at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
After living on the same block in the Phillips neighborhood for 36 years, Lilligren and his husband, Steve, recently moved to the Loring Heights Neighborhood just south of downtown Minneapolis where they enjoy the walkability, parks, and amenities of the area.