Help Craigie give Kahn a challenge

Navy technician Dan Craigie, a University graduate and Green Party hopeful is running for 59B.

Amanda Jansen

On March 29, The Minnesota Daily published a story on a new challenger to Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, in the Minnesota House of Representatives. At first blush, this seems like a familiar tale the residents of District 59B have heard many times before. A recent graduate of the University of Minnesota decides he can take on an incumbent of nearly 40 years because heâÄôs passionate, enthusiastic, a recent graduate and is better positioned to connect to the younger generations. History has shown us, however, that it takes much more than this to win this particular race, as Kahn has had a firm grasp on her seat despite the coming and going of such challengers. IâÄôll be honest. I had this dismissive response when I heard that Dan Craigie was running for the Minnesota House, as IâÄôm sure many others in the district did. But as I did a little research, I realized that maybe this one shouldnâÄôt be dismissed so quickly. It is true that Craigie is a recent University graduate. He received both his bachelorâÄôs and graduate degrees from the University, and thereâÄôs no doubt that his masterâÄôs degree from the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs has helped inspire his candidacy. After graduating from high school and before beginning his academic career, Craigie served in the U.S. Navy as an information systems technician for four years. This little tidbit is intriguing given he is seeking the Green Party endorsement âÄî typically more peace-focused than military-promoting âÄî for the seat. Craigie concentrated in environmental policy at the Humphrey Institute and has also worked for local alternative-energy nonprofit organizations. As an undergraduate student, he worked for three years for a small business in downtown Minneapolis parking vehicles to pay for school. And as the only son of a single mother and with three younger sisters, he jokes that heâÄôs ready to be the only Green in the Legislature. But why should anyone in the district care about what I have decided is a pretty unique combination of experiences and training? Particularly when the status quo has apparently been good enough to continue to elect the same representative since 1972? In addition to the predictable enthusiasm, youth and passion for representing this district as seen before in other challengers, Craigie brings the ability to build coalitions based on his unique array of experiences and training. This is essential given the incredible diversity of this district. This candidate seems to confound easy stereotypes: a Green Party candidate who served in the Navy; the only son of a single mom who has attained an advanced degree from a widely respected institution; an ardent sports fan who dreamed of being a professional baseball player, but instead has opted to work with autistic children in Minneapolis public schools; and a renewable energy expert who has navigated the Saturday- night chaos of downtown Minneapolis parking vehicles to pay for college. As the campaign season gets rolling, weâÄôll see how he fares against Kahn as well as other candidates who may appear. WeâÄôll see if his enthusiasm coupled with his background and training will be enough to convince voters in the district that itâÄôs time for something new. What I know already, though, is that this new challenger warrants much more attention than I originally thought. Amanda Jansen, University graduate student and District 59B resident