In the News: December 2019

November Elections Seat Fresh Perspectives in Minnesota

Janet Kennedy

On November 5, counties and cities across Minnesota elected a record number of young women and women of color to suburban city councils, county commissioner boards, and school boards. The upsurge is due in part to the efforts of organizations like TakeAction Minnesota and Women Winning, which encourage progressive and pro-choice candidates from diverse backgrounds to seek positions in community leadership. More than 80 percent of Women Winning’s 34 endorsed candidates won seats on school boards, city councils, county boards, and in mayoral offices.

Nadia Mohamed

As Pahoua Yang Hoffman, executive director of the Citizens League, told the Star Tribune, “[Women are] feeling a sense of confidence because they are seeing representation now that look like them. The community is also rallying around them.”

In Duluth, Janet Kennedy became the first African American voted onto the city council. Emily Larson, the first woman elected Mayor of Duluth, was re-elected.

In Minnetonka, Kissy Coakley became the first African American woman to sit on the city council.

At 23 years old, Nadia Mohamed became the first Muslim and first Somali St. Louis Park city council member, winning with 63 percent of the vote.

Nelsie Yang

Nicole Joy Frethem won a special election for Ramsey County Commissioner, and will be the first woman to represent District 1 on the Ramsey County Board.

Nelsie Yang became the first Hmong woman — and the youngest ever — elected to St. Paul’s city council. That council now seats five women and two men, including three people of color.

In Golden Valley, Kimberly Lang Sanberg, an openly gay woman, won a seat on the city council. Of the candidates endorsed by OutFront, Minnesota’s largest LGBTQ+ advocacy organization, 87 percent won, including Chauntyll Allen on St. Paul school board, Gary Anderson for Duluth city council, and Mitra Jalali Nelson for St. Paul city council.

Source: MPR News; Women Winning; Star Tribune

Legislators Seek Equal Rights Amendment Revival

After winning electoral control, Virginia Democrats say they plan to revive the century-old Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). To help legalize its passage, House Judiciary committee members will attempt to extend the amendment’s 1982 deadline — though both the federal House and Republican-led Senate would need to approve the motion — in order for Virginia to become the final state necessary for ratification. Ratification of the ERA requires 38 states to make it a country-wide law.

It will make gender equality explicit in the Constitution. The amendment reads: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”

Source: The New York Times

Sen. Amy Klobuchar Out for Laughs

Minnesota’s U.S. Senator and Presidential hopeful Amy Klobuchar is noted for her recent late night talk show appearances, where she has continued to build a reputation for one-liners. On The Daily Show she told Trevor Noah: “I am going to build a blue wall around [midwestern states] with democratic votes — the best part is I am going to make Donald Trump pay for it.” “This is all part of Ms. Klobuchar’s approach,” wrote Jennifer Medina in a recent New York Times piece. “She sees humor as a strategy, a way she can disarm an opponent, charm a voter and, she hopes, undercutPresident Trump on the debate stage.”

Source: The New York Times

#MeToo or Revenge Porn?

Rep. Katie Hill (D-Calif.) resigned in October after nude photos were published online without her consent. Hill was one of the youngest members of Congress, and the first-ever openly bisexual member of the U.S. House.

The photos were illegally shared with several right-wing media outlets. Hill says they were part of a smear campaign orchestrated by her abusive ex-husband. After the photos surfaced, the House Ethics Committee opened an investigation into Hill’s romantic relationship with a former staffer. Consequently, Hill is the first member of Congress to lose her seat in the wake of #MeToo- inspired House rules that were implemented in 2018.

Since Hill’s decision to step down, several news outlets have questioned whether the reaction to the photos would have been different if she were a middle-aged man. “In Hill’s case, nobody has come out as a victim,” said Carrie Goldbery, a lawyer who specializes in sexual privacy violations, in a piece published by The Lily. “No one has said that she coerced or violated them in any way. That is a big contrast to many of the cases that have been lodged against men, who remain in office.”

Source: The Lily

No New Crime, No New Time

Minnesota Department of Corrections officials are negotiating with a coalition of prisoners and their families to drastically reduce sentencing incurred over minor violations during probation or supervised release. The state spends more than $50 million dollars a year imprisoning people for non-crimes. No New Crime, No New Time aims to reallocate those funds. So far the coalition has negotiated with the DOC to create a new appeal process and increase funding to community treatment centers, among other things.

As one mother of a currently incarcerated person explains: “His parole officer sent him to prison for losing his AA cards and having contact with a friend who had an outstanding traffic ticket. Now he’s serving 21 months in prison, not with his daughters, costing the public nearly $80,000. For what?”

Source: Twin Cities Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee

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