Editorial: The Minnesota Daily’s endorsement for Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District

Daily Editorial Board

Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District is one of the major urban-centered districts in Minnesota, spanning eastern Hennepin County and parts of Anoka and Ramsey counties. Comprised of Minneapolis and other major cities, the District represents incredibly diverse and vibrant communities in Minnesota. This year, the District’s decade-long representative, Keith Ellison, decided to seek election as Minnesota’s Attorney General. This leaves the door open for challengers across the board. Candidates need to prove their ability to bring changes to the District, while continuing the success that earned Ellison nearly 70 percent of the vote in the 2016 General Election.

Ilhan Omar is our choice for representative of the 5th Congressional District. Omar immigrated to the U.S. in 1995, where she graduated from Edison High School in Northeast Minneapolis before earning a degree from North Dakota State University. She served as a policy fellow in the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, then in many community and politically active roles until successfully running for Minnesota House of Representatives in 2016. This made her the first Somali-American Muslim legislator in the U.S.

Ilhan’s experience in elected office makes her well qualified to represent the larger 5th Congressional District. She has articulated her stances on many issues facing Minnesota, specifically Minneapolis, while serving District 60B. Her ability to engage in community involvement and listen to diverse communities remains a strong characteristic of her leadership. Advocating for Minnesotans of all backgrounds is another defining feature she will bring to Washington D.C.

But, it must be noted that in her effort to engage in every community, her accessibility does suffer. The Minnesota Daily Editorial Board repeatedly reached out to Ilhan and her campaign for an endorsement interview. No interview was scheduled as her campaign cited a lack of time.

However, her desire to reform policing practices, use clean energy and infrastructure initiatives to create economic opportunity, and tackle broad housing issues within the district are all policies that we found were viable steps in the right direction for the District.

Jennifer Zielinski, the Republican candidate, strongly supports expanding and emphasizing suburban living. Zielinski, a current South Minneapolis resident and health care employee, believes that a dependable solution for housing issues, including the South Minneapolis housing encampment, is through the expansion of suburban living. To do this, she proposed changes to transportation. Zielinski believes focusing on updating the Metro busing system, rather than focusing on the lightrail system, will help a suburban expansion. A secondary focus for Zielinski is the opioid crisis — a predicament she has extensive knowledge about through her work in health care. She believes one way to combat the crisis is through expanding medicinal marijuana use and legalizing recreational use. While Zielinski is adamant on suburban living and resolving the opioid crisis, her stances on other policies, including arguments for resolving higher education issues, seemed relatively surface-level. 

For these reasons and more, we believe that Omar is the best candidate for Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District. Her time spent as the District 60B representative proves that she’s the most capable candidate to advocate for the 5th District’s constituency at the federal level. We urge you to cast a vote in favor of Ilhan Omar to represent Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District.