She’ll close the opportunity gap and advance an agenda that will be focused on economic, social, racial and environmental justice. 

By Abdirizak Bihi, Ann Gilbert and Noah Shavit-Lonstein

Contrary to the Star Tribune Editorial Board’s endorsement of Mohamud Noor in the District 60B DFL primary, Ilhan Omar is the coalition-builder we need to represent this diverse district at the State Capitol.


2015111163582837365330113312234854_10207991974659965_2003944556210531511_nBefore Ilhan’s campaign, it was unusual for longtime residents, new Americans and students in the district to talk to one another, much less to work together for a common goal. Ilhan’s campaign has built solidarity among these groups and is a promise of what our district can become: a united community that leads the way in advancing our shared progressive values.

Ilhan believes that the diversity in this district is our greatest strength. As our state representative, she will bring all voices to the table to build a more prosperous and equitable Minnesota for everyone.

Ilhan has a unique understanding of the issues that matter to District 60B as a result of the extensive conversations she has had with community members in all neighborhoods. An ability to listen deeply and build collaborative relationships between people of different backgrounds is characteristic of her leadership and is a critical skill in a district as diverse as ours and a Legislature as fractured as Minnesota’s.

IlhanHeadshotShe demonstrated this type of leadership in her work as senior policy aide to Minneapolis City Council Member Andrew Johnson, when she held multiple listening sessions and forums to build support for paid sick leave. In addition, while working for the Minnesota Department of Education, she collaborated with both rural and urban school districts to implement after-school meal programs.

Ilhan brings passion and a strong sense of urgency to the most pressing issues that face us as a district and a state. She will act to eliminate Minnesota’s staggering racial and economic disparities. Ilhan will advocate for wraparound services in our schools so that all children can succeed. She will fight for working families so they have access to affordable child-care options. She will collaborate with college students to develop legislative solutions to manage college debt and reduce tuition costs.

Ilhan is the only candidate calling for complete divestment from fossil fuels, and she will bring a global perspective to environmental legislation. These policies will be effective, because Ilhan will work with community members to develop them. This commitment to co-governance earned Ilhan the support of 55 percent of the delegates at the District 60 convention.

In addition to a broad coalition of community support, Ilhan has a strong list of endorsements. Not only does she have the support of former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, she’s also been endorsed by state Sens. Patricia Torres Ray and Scott Dibble, as well as by Johnson and his Minneapolis City Council colleagues Alondra Cano and Lisa Bender. Ilhan also has earned the support of the Minnesota Nurses Association, TakeAction Minnesota, OutFront Minnesota Action, and the Somali-American, Feminist and African-American DFL caucuses.

Surrounded by volunteers and field staff, Ilhan Omar prepares to go door-knocking on Monday in her Minneapolis office.
Surrounded by volunteers and field staff, Ilhan Omar prepares to go door-knocking on Monday in her Minneapolis office.

District 60B is one of the most diverse in the state, and we can’t wait for a more equitable future. The median household income in our district is only $24,000, compared with the state average of $60,000. Nearly 60 percent of the East African community lives below the poverty line. The fact that these inequities persist is indicative of the need for a strong new voice at the Capitol.

When we cast our votes for Ilhan Omar on Tuesday, we will be voting for the progressive champion who will best serve our district in these challenging times and will bring all of our diverse voices together across the lines that usually divide us. A vote for Ilhan is a vote to close the opportunity gap and advance an agenda focused on economic, social, racial and environmental justice. It’s a vote for a district where every resident will feel heard and respected.

Abdirizak Bihi is a Somali community leader and Cedar-Riverside resident. Ann Gilbert is a Seward neighborhood resident. Noah Shavit-Lonstein is a student at the University of Minnesota. 

A Somali-language version of this article can be read here.

Source: The Star Tribune

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.