Sunday, January 06, 2008

Minneapolis legislator seat could break new ground again

Minnesota could see another history-making election for a State office this fall.

Neva Walker became the first and only black woman in the State legislature when she was elected to the House in 2000.

Since her announcement to give up her seat last week, it has already become a key race for the State House in November.

Both Farheen Hakeem and Jeffrey Hayden had run for local offices before, but neither has held public office.

"When I ran for mayor it was very symbolic of, ‘Okay a you woman of color,’" said Hakeem.

Hakeem told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that she hopes to break new ground at the State Capitol. The schoolteacher hopes to represent south Minneapolis as the first Green Party State lawmaker.

"People are going green in their lifestyle in the way the work and the way they think and now they're starting to vote green, too. They're feeling more confident about being out of the comfort zone of a two party system," she said.

Her opponent, Jeffery Hayden, grew up on the same South Minneapolis streets he would like to represent.

As a candidate for District 61B—Hayden hopes to give more power to the DFL.

"We have to keep the seat in the DFL if we're going to get things done in St. Paul. The DFL has to keep the majority and hopefully get the super majority," he said.

Walker was the first African-American woman to serve in the State legislature. Hakeem wants to be the first Muslim woman.

"I think the legislature is a great place to bring many voices and facets of Minnesota from all over people who look like me are all over the state of Minnesota now," Hakeem said.

Hayden, an affordable housing advocate, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that the seat is important to the city and in the halls of the Capitol.

"Hopefully we pick up a few more seats and we tell the Governor that we're going to get some work done. We're not going to get bogged down in gridlock and we are going to get some work done," said Hayden.

District 61B has a long history of being represented by a DFL candidate. That may continue as no Republican has tossed their hat into the ring.


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