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One delegate who was home during Kahn’s outing, Chip Halbach, highlighted her environmental record.
“To have someone who understands the process, who has been a long-standing supporter of all of the human rights issues that I consider important is just someone I feel should be in the Legislature,” said Halbach, executive director of the Minnesota Housing Partnership.
Rather than highlighting policy differences, Noor supporters say they are largely driven by a desire for fresh thinking and more diversity at the Capitol.
Sitting at a Noor fundraiser at a restaurant along St. Anthony Main this week, supporter Daniel Yang observed that only a handful of people of color serve in the Minnesota House. “I think that’s shameful to the state,” said Yang, an organizer for the Native American Development Institute. “And so that’s why I support Noor and his voice and the unique perspective that he’ll bring to the House.”
Noor is currently executive director of the Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota and recently resigned from his systems management job with the state of Minnesota. Just last year he was appointed to temporarily fill the seat occupied by the late Hussein Samatar on the Minneapolis school board.
In opening remarks to supporters, campaign volunteer Matt Musel highlighted some of the tension that has surrounded the race between Kahn and Noor.
“You’re all very brave for being here,” Musel said. “This is not an easy place to stand. This is not an easy place to stand because there’s a lot of forces who are uncomfortable with the change, that are afraid of the change.”
Noor stresses education in his campaign stump speech, advocating for more investment in early childhood programs and highlighting his own outstanding student loans as an example of the challenges people face every day. He also reviews his background, starting when he arrived in the country 15 years ago from Kenya with few resources. “Even the clothes I brought with myself, those were not usable anymore,” he told the group. He took odd jobs, bought a computer and successfully pursued a computer science degree, which would eventually help him land a job with the state.
“There are good reasons to support either candidate,” Melendez said. “And there are Somali and non-Somali voters in both camps.”
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