It shouldn’t take someone lobbying government entities to see that displacing thousands and breaking up a thriving community is wrong, but maybe, just maybe, had a few more like Corey Day been around before Intestate 94 tore through the Rondo neighborhood of St. Paul that action could have been averted.
Of course, there were many strong voices at the time warning of the ramifications of such an act, but additional allies would certainly have been welcomed. A voice like Day’s wouldn’t have hurt.
“One story that always stuck me was the story of Rondo,” said Day, founder of Blue Ox Strategies, a political consulting and lobbying firm. “If you had people at the Capitol in a position to push back, would it have happened the way it did?”
Day’s version of pushback is working both in the trenches and beyond to elect public officials and advance policy that represents the changing face and culture of Minnesota. Day, the former executive director for the Minnesota DFL for the past eight years, said one of his primary goals with Blue Ox is to diversity state government in both people and policy.
“In leaving the DFL I felt it was really important to have someone doing this work that looks like us,” said Day. “I feel it’s important to bring an African-American perspective to the political table. The goal is to bring advances to communities less-often represented. To me that’s the importance of this kind of work.”
Day, 43, a former running back for Illinois State University, said he named his company Blue Ox because it aligns with the values of the people he is representing.
“The blue ox is reflective of the work ethic we have here in the Midwest,” said Day.
Appointed executive director of the DFL by party chair, Ken Martin, Day was one of the longest running DFL executive directors and one of few African-Americans to hold such a position nationwide. During his tenure as executive director Day and the DFL amassed an impressive resume. That resume includes back-to-back DFL governors now spanning three straight terms, all statewide seats currently held by DFLers, the House under DFL control and the Senate is two seats away from a DFL majority.
“And while all the states around us went red in 2016 we were able to keep Minnesota blue,” said Day. “With what we have been able to do here with the Minnesota DFL, it’s viewed as the gold standard in terms of fund raising, candidate support and candidate success.”
Minnesota and Illinois were the only two midwestern states that chose Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. But again, with all the party success, Day says there was an equally important victory.
“One thing I’ve been extremely proud of is over eight years I’ve been able to see more and more people who look like me, and we have been mentoring and cultivating a true pipeline of diverse people to do this kind of work,” said Day. “We want the pipeline full of young, dynamic, ambitious people who want to do this kind of work.”