Minnesota’s government lacks diversity

Even after last week’s midterm elections, Minnesota’s most diverse cities are still governed by officials who don’t reflect their constituencies.

In Brooklyn Park, whose population is 52 percent nonwhite and still rapidly diversifying, the city council remains all white. Reva Chamblis, the city’s first African-American woman to win a primary election for a council seat, tried to change this but lost her bid. Similarly, Liberian immigrant Mike Elliot lost the mayoral race in Brooklyn Center despite the city’s large African immigrant community.

The Star Tribune reported last month that Minnesota’s city and state governments aren’t just racially homogenous, but also lack diversity in terms of age, ethnicity and class.

Low voter turnout may be a primary reason for the losses of minority candidates, as underrepresented communities typically have lower–than-average voting rates, especially in midterm elections.

This lack of diverse voices in Minnesota’s local and state-level governments is concerning, especially as the state is projected to become more diverse in the coming years. Minnesotans of all ages, races and backgrounds need to be represented to ensure a balanced government.

The state has already made some steps to make voting easier, like last year’s “no excuses” absentee voting law that makes casting a ballot more convenient and galvanized early voting efforts in both political parties. The diversity of candidates in the elections was also a good sign that more underrepresented communities are stepping up their involvement in politics.