Election Highlights: Saint Paul Elects All-Women City Council

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The faces of the new Saint Paul City Council back row (l-r): Nelsie Yang, Rebecca Noecker, Cheniqua Johnson, Hwa Jeong Kim. Front row: Saura Jost, Anika Bowie, Mitra Jalali. (Photo by Sarah Whiting)


It was an historic election in Saint Paul, where the city council that begins its work together in January 2024 will be entirely composed of women from diverse racial, cultural, and religious backgrounds — and majority women of color — making it the youngest, most progressive, and most diverse in the city’s history.

A joint news release by the three re-elected council members and the four new ones noted:

“Despite over a quarter-million dollars of conservative special interest spending citywide, organized people beat organized money.  This historic moment was made possible by the relentless work of these campaigns alongside a community coalition of faith leaders, labor allies, frontline city workers, educators, public safety, housing and climate action advocates, and more.”

The united group of council members indicates their priorities are to uphold and improve rent stabilization, champion equitable development and housing options at all income levels, build community wealth through community ownership, address climate resilience by modernizing streets and bike/pedestrian infrastructure, invest in community safety programs that are interrupting cycles of violence, and expand workers’ rights and protections.

Faces of the 2024 Saint Paul City Council

 

Anika Bowie, Ward 1

 

In our recent conversation with her, Anika Bowie said:

“It started me questioning why we have no safety net for people. Instead of being innovative and creative to find solutions, we just punish. … I saw how people’s stories literally drives the social equity that we are building here. That’s when I realized my resources as a young person are valuable — how I was able to navigate in my own capacity on my own. It doesn’t always take a march or a big rally to help people get their day to day figured out. That’s what I love about city council. It’s the small things that matter.”

One of our earliest conversations with Bowie was in 2019.


 

Rebecca Noecker, Ward 2

“Our diverse new City Council has the chance to build trust within our communities and demonstrate the power of local government to change lives.” — Rebecca Noecker

Saura Jost, Ward 3

“Ward 3 voters made it resoundingly clear on Tuesday that they value leadership rooted in our community not backed by corporate interests.” — Saura Jost

Some of our pre-election conversation with Saura Jost

Mitra Jalali, Ward 4

“I am excited to work for a safe and stable home for everyone, fix our streets while acting on the climate crisis, fully fund community-led public safety programs, deliver for working class Saint Paulites in every neighborhood, and so much more.” — Mitra Jalali

Hwa Jeong Kim, Ward 5

“We are uniquely poised to fulfill the needs of Saint Paul residents because we come from the very communities we aim to serve.” — Hwa Jeong Kim

 

Nelsie Yang, Ward 6

“These wins were accomplished through the power of grassroots organizing and staying grounded in our shared values for progress and equity for all.” — Nelsie Yang

Our story with Yang in 2019.

Cheniqua Johnson, Ward 7

“I hope our Ward 7 City Council race is a motivation for anyone on the Eastside that needs a reminder – grassroots organizing, people power, deep outreach, and actual work on the doors truly do make a difference.” — Cheniqua Johnson


Minneapolis City Council Races

In Minneapolis, Aurin Chaudhury was elected in an open seat for Ward 12 alongside several incumbents to the city council; we talked with her prior to the election.

Council president Andrea Jenkins narrowly defeated a challenger who lost an eye from a projectile fired by MPD during the uprising after George Floyd was murdered.

Katie Cashman, another newcomer, won an open seat on Minneapolis city council for Ward 7 against a highly funded challenger. This is the first time the Ward 7 seat has been open since 1998. Some of our pre-election conversation with her.

A breakdown of the election results by neighborhood, from MinnPost.


results early Wednesday morning, November 8, from Star Tribune


Duluth Races

In Duluth, two progressive women mayoral candidates we talked with lost — Jenna Yeakle and Miranda Pacheco — as did mayor Emily Larson.

Miranda Pacheco

Jenna Yeakle

Jenna Yeakle, pictured with partner Chris and dog Mags

 


First Somali-American Mayor

Nadia Mohamed

In Saint Louis Park, Nadia Mohamed became the first Somali-American candidate to be elected mayor in Minnesota. Here is what she told us last year in our “Diversity in Politics” series.

“A year before finishing college studies at the age of 22, I decided to run for office. It wasn’t an easy decision, but Black woman are now realizing it is time, right? We are not waiting for anybody else. … I became the youngest elected city council member in the city, as well as the first Black woman, the first Muslim woman, and the first Somali American. … For awhile I was the only person of color and the only renter, and the only person who experienced low-income housing. And now we are getting a few more voices, and the conversation is no longer one sided. It is multiple stories being told. Those stories are becoming part of the decision making.”

 

Nationally, protecting abortion rights rose significantly in states like Ohio and Virginia.