Addressing Our Community’s Most Critical Issues

While our community has only grown stronger, there is still plenty of work to do. We face serious issues and properly addressing those issues affects the overall safety and wellbeing of our community. One of Mark’s greatest missions is upholding justice and supporting our most vulnerable citizens. He understands that justice doesn’t always mean punishment; justice can mean supporting struggling individuals through rehabilitation, so they can avoid future offenses.

Here are just a few of our community’s most crucial issues that Mark has worked tirelessly to address.

Mental health plays a larger role in the issues our community faces than most of us realize. The issue is only compounded by undiagnosed and untreated illness and a lack of community services.

Mark has long advocated for greater community support in addressing mental health issues for adults and youth. He has partnered with Olmsted County Adult Mental Health to support bonding efforts to build an urgent care mental health facility to help individuals in crisis, preventing trips to jail or the emergency room. Here, individuals will have access to the care they need and get connected with services that can help them manage their illness.

Children are some of the most vulnerable members of our community and keeping them safe should be one of our top priorities. In an effort to protect children, Mark has worked to better address child abuse and youth victims of human trafficking.

Addressing child abuse is more complex than simply removing the child from an unsafe environment. If not handled properly, it can even add to the child’s trauma. That’s why a multidisciplinary approach is essential. The Mayo Clinic Child and Family Advocacy Center does this through a multidisciplinary approach, partnering with medical professionals, child care experts, and law enforcement to help children in abusive situations while limiting their trauma. Mark has worked closely with the center to help shape how law enforcement addresses suspected child abuse cases and how best to care for victims. Mark was a founding member of the executive committee creating the Multidisciplinary team (MDT) and the center itself.

Children are also extremely vulnerable to sexual exploitation and human trafficking. To better protect these children, the Safe Harbor Policy for Youth Victims of Human Trafficking was established. This legislation views youth who engage in prostitution or are sexually exploited as victims, not criminals, and helps them find supportive services and housing. Mark served on a workgroup to study the policy and draft the legislation to determine how to make it stronger and better support victims.

Our veterans have given so much and asked for so little. Unfortunately, they oftentimes don’t receive the aid they need whether it be mental health care, housing, or help addressing service-related issues. These struggles can lead to veterans running into legal trouble.

Instead of focusing on punishment, the District Veterans Court, modeled after the Drug and Mental Health Courts, will address the root of veterans’ problems and supports them to prevent future offenses. Whether they be struggling with substance abuse, employment, or mental health issues, veterans will have access to a variety of services to help support them. The focus of the Veterans Court would be rehabilitation and support rather than outright sentencing with the goal of preventing future encounters with law enforcement. While the Veterans Court is still in its infancy, Mark has been integral in the planning and approval process.

Mark understands that when individuals have the support they need to succeed, our community benefits. Mark is not done in his efforts to address our community’s most pressing concerns and you can help. Learn more about volunteering or donate today! Together we can make a difference in our community. Have questions about any of these efforts? Don’t hesitate to contact Mark today!