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Oct 25th

Mobilizing candidate interest for building political power

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Melvin Carter III, discussing his candidacy for St. Paul Council, Ward 1 during a Conversations with Al McFarlane broadcast on August 28th. Photo by Suluki Fardan

St. Paul residents vote in primary elections in September, with a general election in November that may reshape the city's political landscape. Pakou Hang's challenge to Dan Bostrom, incumbent in the eastside's Ward 6, and Melvin Carter III's challenge to Ward 1 incumbent Debbie Montgomery, pit traditional DFL leaders against energetic emerging political activist/organizers. St. Paul residents vote in primary elections in September, with a general election in November that may reshape the city's political landscape.

Pakou Hang's challenge to Dan Bostrom, incumbent in the eastside's Ward 6, and Melvin Carter III's challenge to Ward 1 incumbent Debbie Montgomery, pit traditional DFL leaders against energetic emerging political activist/organizers.

Hang, a Hmong immigrant who was born in a refugee camp in Thailand, grew up in Wisconsin and graduated from Yale University in 1999. She is working toward a doctoral degree in political science at University of Minnesota. She worked on the Paul Wellstone's last Senate campaign. She says she will champion diversity in a ward that reflects the new diversity of St. Paul. Melvin Carter III has been a force in the environmental awareness and advocacy movement, and promises to bridge green and Black interests for a new urban agenda.

Supporters of incumbents Bostrom and Montgomery say that their candidates stand comfortably on their records of effective representation and leadership on behalf of their wards and the city. They insist that the wards are not broken, and that residents are better served by the continuity of leadership their experience provides.

Though a full eighteen months away, get out the vote organizers are stepping up the discussion about advancing Black political power and promoting Black political, economic and cultural interests in Minneapolis as well.

In South Minneapolis organizers are setting sights on Senate and House seats in District 61as well as city council and school board seats. State Representative Neva Walker represents 61B. Southsider Chris Stewart is a freshman member of the Minneapolis School Board.

But for several years the question has been when rather than whether the southside would send additional African Americans to the state legislature, the city council and the Minneapolis School Board.

Names to watch for in South Minneapolis include educator Sam Grant, school board member Chris Stewart, former Sabathani executive director, Jim Cook, Marjorie Tindle, Vicky Brock, Sandra Miller, Wayne Glanton, Sherill Burney, Matthea Little-Smith, VJ Smith, Al Flowers, Titilayo Bediako and Kinshasha Kambui.

Rumors that State Senator Linda Higgins may be looking to mount a challenge for the Hennepin County Commission District 2 seat now held by independent Mark Stenglein fuel the reexamination so-called "minority opportunity districts" - districts whose residents are substantially or majority persons of color. North Minneapolis' Senate District 58, which thrice elected Higgins to the Minnesota State Senate, is a district seen as the most likely to elect an African American state senator. The district's two House of Representatives seats, 58A and 58B, both offer the strong possibility of electing African Americans.

Joe Mullery is the incumbent in 58A, the northern part of the district. He is regarded as powerful, seasoned and entrenched. Willie Dominguez is the freshman incumbent in 58B. He was elected to the seat that had been held by African American politicians since the mid-1980s when the now Reverend Randolph Staten successfully upended the entrenched Northside DFL machine, creating a Black voter-directed legislative seat for the first time in Minnesota history. Dominguez' election emerged from the chaos created by Keith Ellison's surrender of his bid for reelection in favor of his successful pursuit of the 5th Congressional District seat.

Minneapolis 5th Ward for will be in play. Potential candidates are lining up to challenge incumbent Don Samuels, whom many say has failed to deliver on his campaign promise of creating Black business opportunity and identity for West Broadway.
Some names to watch for: Natonia Johnson, community organizer an
 

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