Though Jamal Osman was only elected in 2020 — to fill a seat left by former Minneapolis City Council Member Abdi Warsame, who resigned to lead the Public Housing Authority — he has already proved to be a pragmatic voice for the city's smallest and densest district.
Osman, 37, describes his role on the council representing the Sixth Ward as a mediator between oft-disagreeing factions. Though debate is inevitable — and indeed should be encouraged — someone like Osman, who can tease out the best ideas of other members and encourage them to collaborate, is integral to council and ultimately city functioning.
Before Osman's stint on the council, he worked as a housing advocate for CommonBond Communities. He also has a background in mental health care and is well-versed in the challenges facing his ward, including opportunities for young people and substance abuse.
The Star Tribune Editorial Board does differ with Osman on certain issues, particularly the city's three ballot questions. Osman is against the strong-mayor proposal, City Question 1, because he says it will take power away from the council and thus the underserved residents in the Sixth Ward. He's in favor of Question 2 and creating a new Public Safety Department and supports Question 3, which would expand the council's ability to research and potentially implement rent control.
However, the reasoning behind Osman's stances does align with the values of the Editorial Board: He recognizes the vital role of police officers in maintaining public safety and thinks adding to the ranks is necessary, while championing other responses, like mental health services, for city residents in crisis. He also values affordable housing and recognizes the complexity of rent control by acknowledging the market forces at play and the need for landlords to make a profit.
Despite these policy differences, Osman would better serve the ward than his opponent, Abdirizak Bihi. Bihi, 57, is a staunch advocate of the Somali American community and a pillar of the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. However, he did not commit to a position on the public safety amendment in an endorsement interview, and a clear stance on this question is essential for any potential council member.
Osman's preparedness, serious campaign and good sense of the complexity of city decisions make him the better choice to represent the Sixth Ward.
Opinion editor's note: The Star Tribune Editorial Board operates separately from the newsroom, and no news editors or reporters were involved in the endorsement process. To read all of our endorsements, go to startribune.com/package-opinion-endorsements/.