ST. CLOUD -- The three at-large positions on the St. Cloud City Council are up for election this year. Nine people are running for those three seats.

One of the candidates is Hassan Yussuf who has lived here in St. Cloud since 2001. He's a licensed English As A Second Language teacher and has taught at Tech High School and Lincoln Elementary.

He says he's currently sitting on several community boards include "Feeding Area Children Together" and the "Somali Elders Council".  He has a masters degree in public administration.

Yussuf says if he becomes a city council member, one of the issues he'd like to address is police relations.

Many cities are trying to see whether there is a community interaction between the police and the community, because right now that is missing.  We have the community police agreement but it is not conclusive and it does not include every element of our community, so I think it's something that can be done in a better way.

Yussuf says he'd like to redirect some of the police department budget to social services programs. He says the COP house in south St. Cloud hasn't been an interactive part of that neighborhood, and he suggests putting some officers on bikes so they can interact more with residents.

He says a lack of affordable housing and homelessness are also a couple of key issues that need to be addressed.

Building tiny homes can be our first step.  Many cities have done that, and then looking at why these people are homeless, is it a criminal background, maybe trying to solve those issues, maybe it is drug related, maybe trying to help rehabilitate themselves, maybe it's a lack of jobs.  Then trying to ween these people off the streets.

Yussuf says moving homeless people into tiny homes would be more cost-effective because it would help keep them out of the emergency room.

Yussuf ran for the St. Cloud Area School Board in 2014 but did not get elected.

We'll be featuring each of the nine candidates for St. Cloud City Council this week and next week. The top six vote getters in the August primary will move on to the general election in November. Absentee voting for the primary is open right now.

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