Midterm elections this November ousted many incumbents and defeated many candidates campaigning for public office in the United States, but it was also a time of great opportunity. One inspiring, hope-filled story comes out of St. Paul, Minnesota, where the constituents on the ground elected their first two African American legislators. Despite St. Paul’s twelve percent African American population, the city has never elected black legislators until this year. Both African Americans, John Harrington and Rena Moore won seats previously represented by Hmong lawmakers.
State Senator John Harrington, who was the former police chief of St. Paul, says that his name recognition played a role in his election. “During his six-year tenure as police chief, Harrington prioritized domestic violence and gang activity, and achieved notable reductions in both,” reported Minnesota Public Radio.
State Representative Rena Moore, a mother of seven, moved to Minnesota ten years ago. She credits her victory to having a personal connection with St. Paul voters. “It was my life experience that really resonated with people right now at this moment, and regardless of the color, I tell you, because when you lose a job, you lose a home, it has no color,” she said.
There are a total of four black lawmakers in the Minnesota state capital. A black caucus in the Minnesota legislature may be next. “Now…we [don’t have] enough to have a black coalition in the legislature at this point, but at least it’s a darned good start,” said Senator Harrington.