election 2013

New Minneapolis City Council makes history

  • Article by: MATT MCKINNEY , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 9, 2013 - 6:22 AM

The new members will be sworn in at City Hall on Jan. 6.


Blong Yang, newly elected Minneapolis City Council member, packed up his lawn signs on Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013, in north Minneapolis. Yang will be the first Hmong city council member.

Photo: Kyndell Harkness, Star Tribune

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When the just-elected Minneapolis City Council members are sworn in early next year, they’ll be making history.

Vote tallying for the final three ward seats wrapped up Friday, propelling Blong Yang and Alondra Cano onto the 13-member council. Yang, the council’s first Hmong member, and Cano, its first Hispanic, will join Abdi Warsame, the council’s first Somali, who won his seat Tuesday night.

In other Friday results, UnitedHealth Group product development manager Linea Palmisano edged community organizer Matt Perry, 5,059 votes to 4,705, in the city’s affluent 13th Ward, where Betsy Hodges gave up her seat in a successful bid for mayor.

In all, seven council seats turned over this year and six have returning members. It’s the biggest shake-up since 2001 when Mayor R.T. Rybak and seven new members were swept into office. Rybak chose not to seek a fourth term and will be replaced by Hodges on Jan. 2. The new council will be sworn in Jan. 6.

Yang, an attorney with degrees from UCLA and the University of Minnesota Law School, won Don Samuels’ North Side seat in the Fifth Ward, defeating attorney Ian ­Alexander in the final tally, 1,842 votes to 1,394. Yang and his wife, writer Mai Neng Moua, live in the Jordan neighborhood with their two children. A former investigator for the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights, Yang also ran his own law firm for eight years and worked for the Legal Aid ­Society of ­Minneapolis.

“I’m just looking forward to doing some good work for the people of Ward Five,” he said Friday, adding that he wants to make sure the city pays attention to his ward. Yang said he hasn’t yet held a victory party. Even as supporters were congratulating him in the days after the polls closed, Yang stayed cautiously optimistic until the moment Friday when votes were finally counted.

In the city’s Ninth Ward that includes the Powderhorn Park, Corcoran and East Phillips neighborhoods, Cano defeated Ty Moore, a Socialist Alternative candidate backed by the Green Party, by a count of 1,987 votes to 1,758.

“This has been a beautiful day in the history of the Ninth Ward,” she told about 200 ­people at South High School. Contacted later, Cano said she’s eager to continue the community work she did as an aide to Sixth Ward Council Member Robert ­Lilligren.

“I’ll be coming in with lots of hopes and lots of dreams and a lot of people behind me ready to get things done,” she said of her upcoming first term. “This is the kind of work that fuels me.”

Cano is a communications specialist for Minneapolis public schools. She worked as an activist on Latino issues and billed herself as the candidate with the most relationships at City Hall and elsewhere to help advocate on behalf of the ward.

The election ended about 7 p.m. Friday when Brad Bourn was declared the winner of the District Six seat on the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, sending him to his ­second term.

Meg Forney and Steffanie Musich, who ran unopposed for the southeast Minneapolis seat being vacated by Carol Kummer, will be the only new commissioners.

Forney noted that the outcome contrasts sharply with the results for City Council, with so many newcomers.

“The new council is like the kids, and the park board is like the parents,” said Forney. “Hopefully, we’re going to be a stable and productive board.”


Bill McAuliffe contributed to this story. Matt McKinney • 612-217-1747

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