It sounds unlikely, considering that St. Paul is an urban center with a black population of about 12 percent, but on Tuesday city voters for the first time elected black legislators — John Harrington in the Senate and Rena Moran in the House. Both are DFLers.
St. Paul, which over the years has elected blacks to the City Council and school board, sent two Hmong community members to the Legislature — in 2002, Mee Moua and Cy Thao — but neither sought re-election this year and Harrington and Moran were elected to fill their seats.
As Sasha Aslanian reports for MPR, Minneapolis first elected a black lawmaker more than a century ago and now has two black legislators, Bobby Joe Champion and Jeff Hayden.
Harrington — who retired last year as St. Paul’s police chief after 33 years on the force — told MPR that the success of Moua and Thao showed city voters that minority representatives can represent all their constituents.
MinnPost’s Doug Grow recently told Moran’s story.
And MPR noted that Moran “moved to Minnesota 10 years ago as a single mother of seven. She briefly lived in a homeless shelter and, despite having a college degree, took a job cleaning at Camp Snoopy at the Mall of America. She worked her way up as a community organizer and five years ago bought a home in St. Paul’s Rondo neighborhood.”
Said Moran: “It was my life experience that really resonated with people right now at this moment, and regardless of the color, I tell you, because when you lose a job, you lose a home, it has no color.”