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A look at who’s running to represent the University area

Live on or near campus? Here are the candidates you can expect to see on your ballot come Election Day.
Image by Nur B. Adam
A voter enters the polling place at the Grace University Lutheran Church early in the morning on Tuesday, March 3.

As the election draws near, voters in the University of Minnesota area have just a handful of elections to focus on. In recent history, much of Southeast Minneapolis — and the city overall — has voted Democrat.

The Minnesota Daily gathered information from campaign websites for the candidates that will be on the ballot for voters in the University area, besides the many uncontested judge races in lower courts. Incumbents are listed first within each race.

School board at large

Kim Ellison:

After 12 years teaching around the metro area, Kim Ellison was appointed to the Minneapolis Board of Education in 2012 and was reelected in 2016. She co-authored a resolution to end the Board’s contract between Minneapolis Police Department’s school resource officers and Minneapolis Public Schools in response to the police killing of George Floyd. She lives in North Minneapolis where she raised four children. She approved the Comprehensive District Design, a proposal to redraw Minneapolis Public School’s attendance boundaries and relocate magnet schools in effort to distribute resources more equitably.

Michael Dueñes:

Michael Dueñes earned his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in political science, specializing in race and politics, community organizations and organizational institutional politics. He taught Chicano Studies classes at the University of Minnesota. At St. Catherine’s University, he launched the school’s first equity and diversity office. Some of Dueñes’ stated priorities include implementing best practices in equity programming and creating a transparent budget plan.

Associate Justice, Minnesota Supreme Court Seat 4

Paul Thissen

Justice Paul Thissen was born and raised in Bloomington. He worked as a lawyer for 25 years. During that time, he worked as a public defender and advised health care providers through business deals. Additionally, he represented clients for free who could not afford a lawyer, including victims of domestic violence and families of disabled children, according to a column Thissen wrote for the Duluth News Tribune. In April 2018, Thissen was appointed to the Minnesota Supreme Court by Governor Mark Dayton.

Michelle MacDonald:

This year is Michelle MacDonald’s fourth time running for election to the Minnesota Supreme Court. MacDonald founded the Family Innocence nonprofit organization to keep families out of court and resolve issues through alternative means. Since 1987, she has worked as a lawyer with a focus on family law. MacDonald is anti-abortion and a gun rights advocate, according to her website.

Minnesota House of Representatives, District 60B (uncontested)

Mohamud Noor, Democratic-Farmer-Labor:

Rep. Mohamud Noor assumed office representing District 60B early last year. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in computer acience from Metropolitan University. Noor is an advocate for the $15 minimum wage, closing racial equity gaps and more. He is also the executive director of the Confederation of Somali Community of Minnesota. Noor has previously worked with the University’s student government for renter rights and has pushed for cash bail reform.

Minnesota State Senate, District 60

Kari Dziedzic, Democratic-Farmer-Labor:

Sen. Kari Dziedzic is the district’s eight-year incumbent. She is a member of three committees in the Minnesota State Senate, including the Agriculture, Rural Development and Housing Finance Committee; the Judiciary and Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee; and the Taxes Committee.

Mary Holmberg, Republican:

Mary Holmberg is on the ballot as a Republican for State Senate District 60. Her Facebook page does not have any details about her platform or background and does not link to a campaign page.

U.S. House of Representatives, Minnesota District 5

Ilhan Omar, Democratic-Farmer-Labor:

Rep. Ilhan Omar was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018. She is the first Somali American member of Congress, the first woman of color to represent Minnesota in Washington D.C. and one of the first two Muslim American women elected to Congress.
Omar plans to focus on issues such as investing in education and decreasing student debt, ensuring fair wages for workers, creating a just immigration system and prioritizing the threat of climate change.

Lacy Johnson, Republican:

Lacy Johnson has lived in North Minneapolis for 40 years. Johnson studied pre-med, math and English at the University of Minnesota, and his career experience is in technology and economic development. He served as program director for Hospitality House Youth Development, a Christian youth development center in North Minneapolis. Johnson’s platform includes supporting school choice, expanding Medicare and advocating for criminal justice reform legislation, which rehabilitates criminals and shortens mandatory minimums.

Michael Moore, Legal Marijuana Now:

Michael “Mickey” Moore grew up throughout Minneapolis. He attended the University of Minnesota where he received a full-ride scholarship and ran track. Moore also trained for the Olympics in 1988. Before his involvement in politics, Moore ran multiple luxury hair braiding salons. Now, he lives with his family between his homes in the U.S. and Thailand. If elected, Moore will focus on issues such as policing and social justice reform, educational reform, homelessness and the negative effects of political conditioning and political partisanship.

U.S. Senate, Minnesota

Tina Smith, Democratic-Farmer-Labor:

Sen. Tina Smith was appointed to the Senate in 2018 after former Sen. Al Franken’s resignation. Smith graduated from Stanford University and later earned an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. She is married and has two sons. Before entering local government, she worked for General Mills and started a small business. She previously served as chief of staff to both Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and Governor Mark Dayton. Smith served as Minnesota’s 48th lieutenant governor for three years. Her focuses include tax fairness to ensure the wealthiest 2% pay their “fair share,” early education, rural broadband access and increasing health insurance access.

Jason Lewis, Republican:

Jason Lewis graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a Bachelor of Arts degree in education and business and received his Masters of Arts degree in political science from the University of Colorado-Denver. Lewis was formerly a conservative talk radio show host. He previously served in the U.S. House of Representatives for Minnesota’s 2nd district from 2017 to 2019. Lewis lives in Woodbury. If elected, Lewis will continue to focus on the issues he worked on as a member of the House, including tax cuts and regulatory reform to improve the economy. Lewis was also endorsed by President Donald Trump.

Oliver Steinberg, Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis:

Oliver Steinberg’s pro-marijuana legalization platform centers on a Bill of Rights passage that states a person can sell products from their farm without obtaining a license beforehand. Steinberg also supports constitutional amendments that eliminate government allowances treating corporations as people, abolish the Electoral College, outlaw monopolies and strengthen data privacy.

Kevin O’Connor, Legal Marijuana Now:

Kevin O’Connor supports smaller government and the medical benefits of marijuana. A website could not be found for his campaign.

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