District 60B, DFL: Mohamud Noor

Minneapolis Rep. Phyllis Kahn’s background and the specialties she chose as a new legislator in the 1970s were well-suited to the district she then represented, which was dominated by the University of Minnesota. A Ph.D. biophysicist and staunch feminist, Kahn championed gender equity and science-related issues, making Minnesota a national leader in anti-smoking policies, environmental protection and gender equity in scholastic sports. Twenty-two terms and a long list of sponsored bills attest to her legislative prowess.

The campus is still part of District 60B. But redistricting and demographic change have shifted the district’s center of political gravity to Cedar-Riverside, home of the nation’s largest concentration of Somali-Americans. With a third of Senate District 60’s population living below the poverty line, and with median income just two-thirds of the state average, District 60B deserves representation that prioritizes jobs, education, health care and racial justice.

Mohamud Noor, executive director of the Somali Confederation of Minnesota and a former member of the Minneapolis school board, is well-prepared for that role. He gets the Star Tribune Editorial Board’s nod in next Tuesday’s DFL primary over both Kahn and a third candidate, Ilhan Omar, a former Minneapolis City Council aide.

This is Noor’s third bid for a legislative seat; he was not our choice the last two times. A former state and county human services systems administrator, Noor, 38, has impressed us since then with his commitment to community service, policy expertise, and forceful but respectful leadership style.

Omar, 33, seems similarly motivated but less well-informed in her first bid for office. She blundered at a candidate’s forum Monday when she faulted Kahn for insufficiently pushing to legalize Sunday liquor sales — evidently unaware that Kahn has been the Legislature’s most consistent advocate for liberalizing liquor laws.

Minnesotans owe Kahn, 79, gratitude for a remarkable legislative career. But District 60B’s voters do not owe her a seat in the 2017-18 Legislature. That seat belongs to the people of the district, and they need a voice like the one Noor promises to provide.

Editor's note: A Somali-language version of the preceding endorsement can be found here.


District 59A, DFL: Joe Mullery

Another long-serving DFL legislator has a lively challenge on the city’s North Side — but in this race, the challenger is less prepared for legislative service. Rep. Joe Mullery, a 20-year state House veteran, is the better choice for DFL voters.

Mullery, 72, is an attorney and the ranking DFL member of the House’s human services policy committee. He is seldom in the limelight at the Capitol. But he’s a workhorse behind the scenes and draws from a deep well of knowledge about policy matters including early childhood education, human services for the disabled and victims of mental illness, minority workforce development, and policing and criminal justice. His extensive record of volunteer work in his district belies any claim that he’s out of touch with local concerns.

Challenger Fue Lee, 24, is a recent Carleton College grad and an aide in the office of Secretary of State Steve Simon. Lee’s desire for a career in public service is commendable, as is the ambition of the North Side’s Hmong-American community to send one of their own to the Capitol. But Lee’s criticism of Mullery is overstated, and his preparation for legislative service is scant. We hope to see Lee’s name on a ballot again in a few years — but this year, Mullery is the better choice.