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A former Minneapolis mayoral candidate who joined Mayor Jacob Frey's community safety workgroup after the election announced she is leaving the high-profile effort after just two meetings.

Sheila Nezhad announced her decision to step away from the workgoup Thursday through a piece published by MinnPost

Nezhad was one of the main challengers to Frey during his 2021 re-election bid, even making a pact with another candidate, Kate Knuth, to rank each other second and encouraging supporters to follow suit.

Frey prevailed, garnering more first-choice votes than Nezhad and Knuth combined. Following the contentious election, Frey announced the creation of the community safety workgroup, with his opponent, Nezhad, among its 35 members. 

In Thursday's MinnPost piece, Nezhad said she joined the working group "with the hope to find common ground with others hoping to make Minneapolis safer, and to bring forth my years of work on alternatives to policing."

But the meeting rules (which are determined by group members, not the mayor's office) rankled Nezhad, a policy organizer for Reclaim the Block, who wrote that the non-public discussions "do not align with my values." 

"I think that the best problem-solving happens out in the open, and I was unable to persuade my fellow group members to adopt a transparent approach," she wrote, arguing the benefits of a community accessible discussion outweigh the potential negatives.

The mayor's office, in a statement to Bring Me The News, said he is "disappointed" Nezhad "has excused herself from an opportunity to demonstrate her commitment to the hard work of finding community-led public safety solutions." 

The statement continued: "He’s grateful to the co-chairs, workgroup members, and city staff for their continued focus on delivering real change for Minneapolis residents."

In Nezhad's piece, she also highlights public safety spending with which she disagrees, as well as a lack of accountability related to the actions of some Minneapolis police officers during civil unrest in the spring of 2020.

"People in Minneapolis are hungry to have conversations about safety, policing and justice," she wrote. "As community leaders chosen for this safety workgroup, we had the opportunity to lead by example and have difficult conversations in public."

But that "won't happen," she continued.

The Community Safety Workgroup is chaired by attorney and civil rights activist Nekima Levy Armstrong and Rev. Dr. DeWayne Davis. Its meeting dates are not listed on the city's public calendar

Among the other members of the group announced at its inception include former Minneapolis Police Department chief Medaria Arradondo, Downtown Council president and CEO Steve Cramer, and NAACP Minneapolis President Angela Rose Myers.

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