MN Somali Candidate Gets Key Endorsements

     MINNEAPOLIS (CN) – The woman who could become the first female Somali-American member of the Minnesota Legislature picked up endorsements from a state senator and a former mayor of Minneapolis.
     Ilhan Omar was born in Somalia and she fled with her family at the age of 8 during the East African country’s civil war, according to her website. She says her family spent four years in a Kenyan refugee camp before coming to the United States.
     Omar’s family moved into the Cedar-Riverside, or West Bank, neighborhood of Minneapolis in 1997. She developed an interest in politics as a teenager and has since worked as a policy analyst and community advocate, she says.
     She current lives with her husband and three children in the West Bank neighborhood, home to one of the largest Somali communities in the country.
     Omar is running for the District 60B seat in the Minnesota House of Representatives, trying to oust its longest-serving member, Rep. Phyllis Kahn. Kahn is currently serving her 22nd term, according to the Legislature’s website.
     The Somalia native is running as a member of Minnesota’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party, which is the state’s chapter of the national Democratic Party.
     This week, Omar scored key endorsements from Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, and former Minneapolis mayor R. T. Rybak.
     Dibble called Omar “a coalition builder” and she said will “move social, racial, economic and environmental justice issues forward at the Capitol.”
     “Minnesota needs Ilhan Omar’s voice in the legislature and I am very proud to step forward and endorse her. Her experience and demonstrated leadership shows that she is well qualified to represent the diverse community members who call District 60B their home,” Dibble said in a statement.
     Rybak likewise said Omar “will be a champion for positive change.”
     “I am very impressed by how Ilhan is running her campaign and the way she is bringing so many new people into the political process, including students, new immigrants and people of color. All of us who belong to the DFL party must do more to engage those who want to be involved,” Rybak said.
     The DFL race for the District 60B House seat will be decided by voters in a primary election in August.

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