Mohamud Noor to challenge veteran Phyllis Kahn for House seat

  • Article by: STEVE BRANDT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 30, 2013 - 9:38 PM

Newly appointed Minneapolis school board member says the community wants new legislative leadership; Kahn cites experience.

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Relative political newcomer Mohamud Noor announced the creation of a Somali PAC called the New Americans Political Action Committe to a gathering of mostly Somalis at the Safari Restaurant and Banquet Center Friday, Aug. 10, 2012, in Minneapolis, MN.

Photo: David Joles, Star Tribune

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With one meeting as a newly appointed Minneapolis school board member behind him, Mohamud Noor now is hoping to wrest a legislative seat away from a formidable incumbent.

Noor announced this week that he’s seeking DFL endorsement for the seat held by state Rep. Phyllis Kahn, now in her 22nd term.

“The community is looking for someone to lead them in the right direction,” Noor said Sunday at Coyle Community Center, citing education, employment, services for the mentally disabled and youth issues as his focus. “My campaign will be focused on equity issues.”

Noor’s entry means that the Somali electoral juggernaut that swept Abdi Warsame onto the City Council in November faces a big test.

Noor, 36, was sworn onto the school board on Dec. 10, after its members voted for him to succeed the late Hussein Samatar in District 3. But he said Monday that a legislative post would give him a platform to address issues beyond education. He said he’s resigned effective Jan. 7 his job as an information technology manager for the state Department of Human Services.

Many have tried to unseat Kahn, 76, through her career, but her closest call came in a multiple ballot endorsing convention years ago. Opponents typically poll in the range of 30 to 40 percent against her, she said. She’s entering her 42nd year in the Legislature, tied for first in seniority among current members, and tied for fifth all-time.

“I never take anything for granted,” she said. “I’m very pleased with the strong support I’ve seen from the Somali community.” She tweeted photos of herself, also at the Coyle Center with Warsame, Somali elders and the Cedar Riverside youth council.

But Noor said, “I think the community is looking for new leadership. I’m confident they will rally behind me.” He said he’ll keep working in the community during the campaign. He is interim executive director of the Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota, which is based at Coyle.

Kahn is making the case that her seniority, including chairing the House committee overseeing Legacy Amendment money, and her long experience on appropriations panels, give her an effectiveness advantage over Noor, who would need years to build seniority.

Kahn also notes Noor’s residency switches. He lived in northeast Minneapolis until early October, when he moved into a room in Cedar-Riverside to gain eligibility for the school board seat. He said recently that he hopes to close soon on permanent housing that lies within both districts. Kahn was elected from Prospect Park and now lives on Nicollet Island.

District 60B takes in much of southeast Minneapolis, plus Cedar-Riverside plus part of the Seward neighborhood.

Kahn holds a doctorate in biophysics and worked as a University of Minnesota researcher before she was elected. She is best known for the Clear Indoor Air Act, which limits smoking in public

 

Steve Brandt • 612-673-4438

Twitter: @brandtstrib

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