Wehyee finishes term on Falcon Heights Council

By Anne Holzman

After serving on the Falcon Heights City Council from January 2020 to December 2023, Yakasah Wehyee chose not to run for re-election, citing personal matters.

Still, Wehyee is likely to reappear sometime again on the public scene, noting he sees public service as a life-long interest and expects to seek elective office again in the near future.

Starting from his days in high school as a student council member, Wehyee said, “I didn’t want to be an observer. I wanted to be a voice.” He grew up in the Twin Cities and attended Hamline University and the University of Minnesota, earning a doctorate in political science.

As a Falcon Heights council member, Wehyee said a couple of highlights included working with the Community Engagement Commission assisting immigrants as a Human Rights Day theme and bringing the Just Deeds movement to Falcon Heights. Just Deeds assists homeowners in identifying and removing racist covenants from their property records.

Wehyee said another accomplishment was witnessing the opening of Amber Union, a 125-unit apartment complex in the former TIES building, which Buhl Investors renovated as affordable housing. That development is at the southwest corner of Snelling and Larpenteur avenues.

“The Amber Union development was something I was very proud of,” Wehyee said.

Wehyee also got involved in the nuts and bolts of city governance, helping to hire Jack Linehan as city administrator and pushing for comprehensive street repaving.

Wehyee said he has also kept equity at the forefront when dealing with city policies, such as the municipality’s outdated front-yard lawn policy that caused a stir when a resident wanted to put in a vegetable garden. Replacing that ordinance with clearer guidelines to allow gardens served two goals, he said: It made the city more environmentally friendly and it reduced the danger of inequitable enforcement.

Wehyee works at Step-Up Level 2, a Minneapolis job training and placement program for youth. He said he loves teaching and policy work and hopes to balance the two interests as his career matures. He has a two-year-old son that he hopes to spend a little more time with now that he doesn’t have to attend city meetings.

Wehyee said he grew as a leader during his four years on the council.

“One of the things I’ve learned,” he said, “is you’ve got to know when to be aggressive and when to sit back” because there’s already a majority in agreement.

“My ultimate contribution has been to bring us closer to realizing our vision of making us a more welcoming community,” Wehyee said. 

Anne Holzman is a Twin Cities freelance writer who covers Falcon Heights government news for the Bugle.

Photo credit: Yakasah Wehyee. Submitted photo.

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