Minneapolis will likely soon have one more City Council member: Jamal Osman.
The city announced Friday that Osman had beaten out 10 other candidates for the chance to represent the city’s Sixth Ward, which is one of the most diverse in Minneapolis.
“I would say that I’m superexcited, and I want to thank my supporters, my volunteers and my opponents,” Osman said after the results were announced. “It has not been an easy campaign during COVID-19, the social distancing, the riots, the unrest of our city, and just the decision that I think residents here in Ward 6 made is just something I’m super happy about.”
Osman was declared the unofficial winner after the city tabulated three rounds of ranked-choice voting. The results must still be certified, a process that is often a formality.
One of Osman’s closest competitors, AJ Awed, who made it to the final round with him, said Friday afternoon that he was confused by the results.
“I’m not a political expert by any stretch of the imagination,” said Awed, a fellow with the American Arbitration Association. “This was my first time running for office, as well as first time being acquainted with the ranked-choice voting system.”
Awed noted that he was trying to process the results while his wife was in labor Friday afternoon. He plans to consult with his campaign team on next steps.
If it turns out he is simply confused about the process, Awed said he’d be “more than happy to accept the results as is.”
If the results are confirmed, Osman, a social services worker, will join the council at a time when it is juggling multiple crises.
Some of the effects of the city’s turbulent year can be most deeply felt in the Sixth Ward, which includes the neighborhoods of Cedar-Riverside, Elliot Park, Phillips West, Seward, Stevens Square and Ventura Village.
Those neighborhoods include some of the highest concentrations of coronavirus cases in the city, according to data collected by the city. They also include parks where dozens of homeless people set up camps amid the pandemic and following the uprising over George Floyd’s killing.
If his victory is confirmed, Osman will be sworn into office on Aug. 28.
Osman will bring the City Council back to its full complement of 13 members and will likely play a crucial role in settling difficult issues, such as how to remake the police department.
Osman said one of his top priorities will be combatting the opioid crisis. “We have a lot of young, East African youth who are dying,” he said.
Osman said that improving mental health services will be another priority and that he looks forward to learning more about various proposals for changing the Minneapolis Police Department.
The Sixth Ward has been without a council member since April, when Abdi Warsame left to take the helm at the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority.
The city charter requires special elections to be held within 90 days of a vacancy, but, as was the case in this instance, that sometimes conflicts with a Minnesota law that says most special elections can only be held on one of five specific dates.
Voters will decide in November whether to update the charter to minimize those conflicts. If they approve the ballot question, the city will have to hold special elections on a state-sanctioned Election Day that is “more than 90 days from the date of vacancy.”
Staff writer Miguel Otárola contributed to this report.