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Let’s bring new people to the political table: Attend your precinct caucus next week

This coming Tuesday, Feb. 6, we have an opportunity to caucus and take the steps needed to create a Minnesota that truly reflects the creativity, innovation and power of all our people. 

Courtesy of the authors
Phyllis Wiener, left, and Shay Berkowitz

For many years, we’ve been fiercely committed to opening up space within our politics for those who aren’t already at the table – from folks of color and the LGBTQ community to women, immigrants, and more. For us this is not about achieving feel-good diversity. It’s about bringing the full range of perspectives, ideas and solutions into government.

This coming Tuesday, Feb. 6, we have an opportunity to caucus and take the steps needed to create a Minnesota that truly reflects the creativity, innovation and power of all our people. 

The past year has been very tough. If we’ve learned anything it’s that politics as usual won’t save us. Insider politicking, pre-ordaining candidates, maintaining a sense of entitlement to elected office among those who already have power and access – these things will not save us.

No change without change in the numbers

The revelations about the hostile environment that women face within the Minnesota Legislature make it blindingly clear that we cannot expect change on this front unless we change the numbers. We need more women in the Legislature, period.

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As residents of 61B, we have been lucky to be represented by Rep. Paul Thissen. Southwest Minneapolis is fortunate that we will continue to have champions like State Sen. Scott Dibble and Rep. Frank Hornstein. Their dedication to issues close to our hearts – the environment, health care, transit, education, LGBTQ equity, public safety, racial and economic justice, human rights and more – make us proud to have them represent us.

But there are voices missing. So when we have an opportunity to help elect progressive leaders who will fight for the issues we care about, and also make our Legislature more reflective of Minnesota, we seize it. For these reasons we are thrilled to have four viable candidates, of which two are women, running in District 61B for the Minnesota Legislature.

New candidates

South Minneapolis has also been represented by two outstanding leaders: Rep. Karen Clark (District 62A) and Rep. Susan Allen (62B). They too have been committed to equity and improving the quality of lives for all of us who live here. At the end of this year, they will retire, and already a number of new candidates have stepped up – including women of color and indigenous women – to advance the legacies of these two trailblazing leaders.

Last, but certainly not least, we have the chance to elect our first woman governor. Let’s seize the opportunities and move closer to building a Minnesota that gives voice and power to all our people.

We believe this is a moment in the history of our country and state where those of us already at the table should reflect deeply on our power and privilege. We encourage you to consider how you might best use your talents. The most meaningful thing we can do now would be to put our experience to work to help elect those who don’t already have privilege and access. 

This is what we plan to do. We invite you to join us at precinct caucuses on Tuesday, Feb. 6 and together seize the opportunity we have.

Phyllis Wiener and Shay Berkowitz have been dedicated, lifelong activists for social justice in Minnesota and beyond.

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