Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

Daily Email Edition

Get MN Daily NEWS delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday!


Q&A with Minneapolis City Council candidate Kayseh Magan

Ward 6 candidate Kayseh Magan discusses public safety, tenant rights and controversies surrounding the incumbent candidate Jamal Osman.
Image by Kayseh Magan (courtesy)
Kayseh Magan is running against incumbent Jamal Osman in the upcoming City Council election.

Kayseh Magan, a former investigator with the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office, is running to unseat incumbent council member Jamal Osman (Ward 6) in the Nov. 7 elections.

Ward 6 covers Cedar-Riverside and surrounding neighborhoods including Seward and Elliot Park. Osman was elected to the Minneapolis City Council in 2020 and is seeking a third term. Other people running against Osman include Tiger Worku and Guy Gaskin.

Osman has received backlash from community members, including Magan, in recent months over homophobic and antisemitic tweets from 2011 to 2013. Another scandal came from his wife’s involvement in Feeding Our Future, a nonprofit that stole millions from the federal government during the pandemic, according to the Minnesota Reformer.

Osman did not respond to requests for an interview.

Magan sat down with The Minnesota Daily for a Q&A to discuss his election priorities and Osman’s controversies.

Minnesota Daily: How do you feel Ward 6 has done under Osman’s leadership?

Magan: “It has not been good. A lot of residents who live in Ward 6 tell me there are no constituency services since Osman has been in office. They tell me they do not get phone calls or emails returned. That is what I have been hearing for the last 11 months. 

“There have been a lot of issues that have not been addressed in Ward 6 like public safety, police accountability and housing rights. When Osman tells people what he has done, he takes credit for the call to prayer to allow the broadcasting of the Muslim call to prayer at all times. That is it. Even though he is a swing vote, he has not used that ability to get along with other colleagues to push for things that actually help the residents in Ward 6.”

Daily: In your conversations with residents of Ward 6, what problems have you been hearing residents are having?

Magan: “Tenant rights are one of my top issues. I see a lot of residents, especially in Cedar-Riverside, who are East African, who tell me their landlords are not meeting their obligations. They are paying their rent, but the landlords are not fixing properties. 

“When they go outside, there is drug use, there are encampments. Those are things that have been happening since the pandemic. As a council member, you have to be much better when those issues arise because they are having a direct quality of life issue on the residents. You have these issues that are happening in Ward 6, disproportionate increase in crime, encampments, you are not meeting with the residents or advocating for them and you’re running for the third time. You can see how a lot of residents can be frustrated and want change.”

Daily: How are you going to solve the problems residents are having?

Magan: “I will meet with different neighborhood associations. That has not been happening. You can talk to those neighborhood associations and they say that Osman does not come to them. That is where you would at least hear a lot of problems. If Osman or his office were attending these meetings or even responding to calls or complaints, he would know this. Since I have been running, I have been CC’d on emails sent to Osman by people who support me because they say this is an issue I need to know. 

“I am going to advocate for an adequately staffed police department, but that also means that we have to invest in other alternatives for policing, but those take time to build up. We need to fund those. We need to make sure that we hold those police officers accountable. Police accountability is my number two issue, so making sure that we separate the contracts so that police officers and their sergeants and lieutenants, who are in command and are their supervisors, are not in the same bargaining unit. When I was a correctional officer in the sheriff’s office, it was not like that. Correctional staff, sergeants and lieutenants were in a different bargaining unit so that people who were in the same union were not there to discipline each other. It creates a conflict of interest.

“We need to make sure that we are, for tenant rights, advocating for better enforcement of our housing codes, more robust enforcement and actually increasing the fines. City councils set fines, some of these fines are $100 to $200. There were three different neighborhoods and apartment buildings that, in a three-month period, reached out to the media and different news organizations on their own because they were saying that there was drug use and people who were homeless inside their apartment buildings. I have tried to help residents or connect them with services. I believe I could do much more if elected.”

Daily: Controversies like Feeding Our Future have rocked Ward 6. How will you restore stability and trust in Ward 6?

Magan: “I have dedicated my professional life to public service. I studied political science. I have a master’s degree in public administration. I have worked in government for over a decade and my background is opposite of Osman’s in terms of me being a former criminal investigator at the Attorney General’s Office protecting our tax dollars as a criminal investigator. Coming into that position with that background is going to restore some level of trust in residents because they will know that I am dedicated to public service. 

“Feeding Our Future and Jamal Osman’s ties to it have really affected our East African community and Somali community because they have seen this as an embarrassment. He wants people’s votes yet he will not even want to talk about why his wife created a nonprofit where she reportedly used his home as an address and claimed to feed thousands of children. Voters are going to see that and they are going to want someone who has integrity and is honest.”

Daily: What would the impact be if Osman is reelected?

Magan: “There are going to be a lot of people who are going to think that you could get away with anything and still get elected. You can run away from the news media. You can lock your comments on Twitter, as Jamal Osman has done, so that no one can comment and no one is going to hold you accountable. That will be the message that people will get from this. 

“As someone who is Somali and who has the same background as Jamal Osman, I want to tell people that this is not what the Somali community stands for. We are Muslim. We are law-abiding. We are taxpayers. I know this fraud has implicated a lot of people who are of Somali background, including our council member and his wife, and he has yet to answer for that. That does not mean that I should not run and try to talk to voters, but I also do not want to run an entire campaign about how bad my opponents are.”

Daily: What do Ward 6 residents need to know about this upcoming election?

Magan: “It is a very important election. Do not stay at home. Come out and vote. There is a lot on the line.”

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Accessibility Toolbar

Comments (0)

All The Minnesota Daily Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *