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3 Minneapolis Council incumbents ousted; 1st Somali elected

Voters dramatically revamped the Minneapolis City Council on Tuesday, with seven new members elected to the 13-member panel. Three incumbents were ousted.

After preliminary counts, the Council appears to have its first Hmong, Hispanic and Somali members, the Star Tribune reports.

In perhaps the evening’s highest-profile race, Abdi Warsame became the highest elected Somali in the country, winning a Council seat in a landslide in a race with 12-year Council Member Robert Lilligren.

Jubilant supporters celebrated at a Cedar-Riverside theater Tuesday night as Warsame stepped onto the stage, 20 years after the first wave of East Africans began arriving in Minneapolis, the Star Tribune noted. “I’m an American who happens to be Somali. … This is my base and I’m proud of that,” said Warsame, 35, who left Somalia as a child, spent part of his life in London, and arrived in Minneapolis just seven years ago.

Warsame waged an energetic campaign that sought to mobilize the East African voters in a newly drawn ward. His priorities include jobs, roads, housing and young people who need mentors, MPR News reported.

Warsame, executive director of the Riverside Tenants Association, which represents 4,000 people who live in the Riverside Plaza high-rises, said his campaign was among the most grassroots the city has seen in recent years. “We did our homework; we worked very hard,” he said. “In every measure, we out-competed our opponent — in terms of fundraising, in terms of having a presence in social media,” he said, MPR reported.

“We are not just voting because we see Somali candidates running for it. We want to see improvement in Minnesota. We want to see Minneapolis improvement,” one Warsame supporter told KARE 11 in a story about the political aspirations of the state’s Somali-Americans.

In the Third Ward race, lawyer Jacob Frey beat two-term incumbent Diane Hofstede to represent the North Loop and northeast Minneapolis.

And Lisa Bender, 35, soundly defeated first-term Council Member Meg Tuthill in Uptown’s Tenth Ward, just three weeks after Bender’s daughter was born.

Lawyer Blong Yang, 37, had the lead Tuesday night in first- and second-place votes in north Minneapolis’ Fifth Ward, poised to be the Council’s first Hmong member if the final ranked-choice voting count Wednesday goes his way, the Star Tribune reported.

And DFLer Alondra Cano in the Ninth Ward also appeared to have the lead Tuesday night. If declared the winner, she would be the first Mexican-American to serve on the Council. She was in a narrow race with Socialist Alternative candidate Ty Moore.

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