A strong potential contender has emerged for the school board seat to be filled after the death of Hussein Samatar.

Like Samatar, Mohamud Noor is a Somali immigrant and moved to Minnesota as a young adult.  Moreover, his wife and Samatar’s are related, he said.

In order to qualify for the District 3 seat, Noor will need to complete a move from northeast Minneapolis to the district. He said he’s in the process of moving to Seward, first himself and later his family.  That will put him closer to Lyndale Community School, which his children attend, and the job he’s taken on acting as executive director for the Cedar Riverside-based Confederation of Somali Community.

The 36-year-old Noor hasn’t declared his candidacy, but said he’s been encouraged by elders to run.  “I will not take it on unless the people who need the representation give the blessing,” he said. 

If his name is familiar, Noor turned a lot of heads in a 2011 special election for the Minnesota Senate, finishing second with 26 percent of the vote in a DFL primary field crowded with more experienced politicos.  He gained endorsements in that election from the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees, Take Action Minnesota and Stonewall DFL, the party's gay-rights caucus.

More significantly for the school seat, he was also endorsed by the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers.  That’s interesting, given that Samatar was one of only two board members to vote against the last teacher contract.

Noor earlier ran for one of the school board’s citywide seats in 2010, finishing just out of the money in a 10-way primary in fifth place.

He’s currently on a paternity leave from the state of Minnesota, where he works in informaiton techology operations..  His wife formerly worked as an education assistant at Lyndale.

Some board members have expressed support for appointing a qualified Somali-American for the seat, all things being equal.  Samatar was the state’s first Somali elected official when he was elected unopposed in 2010.

The district runs between Interstate 35W and the Mississippi River, between the heavily Somali Cedar Riverside area and a southern border that generally follows E. 36th Street.  The appoiuntment that board makes will be through the 2014 school election, when Samatar's term expired. 

(Photo: Mohamud Noor announced formation of a New Americans PAC in 2012.)