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Continued: Somali-Americans reflect on caucus chaos

  • Article by: ERIC ROPER , Star Tribune
  • Last update: February 6, 2014 - 12:46 AM

Even the registration desk was a chaotic scene, requiring Oliver to tell several Noor supporters from Brooklyn Park that they could caucus only in their home precinct.

The caucus ended before it could elect 43 of the House district’s 381 delegates. The state DFL announced Wednesday that it would reconvene the caucus later. It attracted more attendees than many others around the state.

“You have to be impressed with their passion for democracy,” said Oliver, who would like to see better voter education. “Because there were more people in that room interested in a caucus for state representative than … precincts less than a half a mile away that only had four people show up.”

‘Larger growing pains’ at work

Kahn, who attended Tuesday’s event, expects that the reconvened caucus will have outside chairs and professional translators.

It was initially unclear whether the caucus could be held again under state statute, though party officials will likely argue the first one never officially ended.

“The only way for postponing or changing is bad weather, and I don’t know if bad social climate is equivalent to bad weather,” Kahn said.

Ken Martin, chair of the state DFL, said the party has invested a lot of time and energy into arranging translators and interpreters as well as training East Africans to hold leadership roles.

But he added that a lot of tension from the Somali community is spilling into the Kahn-Noor race.

“In some senses the race is becoming a proxy war for larger growing pains and issues within the community,” he said.

Noor attributed the problems to “bad apples” who must be addressed, rather than the community as a whole.

“The community is not satisfied with what happened,” Noor said. “It’s not about the people who came out peacefully. It’s something that was instigated despite the overwhelming [number of] people coming out to participate in their precinct caucus, which doesn’t happen usually.”

Noor was recently appointed to the Minneapolis school board and is now running against Kahn, who was first elected to the Legislature in 1972. After the Cedar-Riverside-area caucus is reconvened, the DFL will endorse a candidate at its district convention in April.

“There is a lot of blame being thrown around,” Warsame said. “But what I know is that we need to improve the process.”

 

Eric Roper • 612-673-1732

Twitter: @StribRoper





 

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