Brooklyn Park mayoral candidate Hollies Winston poses for a portrait on October 26, 2022. Credit: Jaida Grey Eagle | Sahan Journal

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Hollies Winston made history by becoming the first Black mayor of Brooklyn Park.

Winston, the DFL-endorsed candidate, received 59 percent of the vote with 96 percent of precincts reporting. His opponent, Wynfred Russell, received 40 percent of the vote.

In his victory speech, Winston said that his win is historic because he’s the city’s first African American mayor.

“It’s also history, though, because I ran on a platform of going in a very different direction,” Winston said.

His platform started with addressing livability and crime issues at the Huntington Place apartment complex and deciding “we shouldn’t be tolerating that in the city of Brooklyn Park.”

He said addressing those issues led to a broader platform to support “the folks who are just struggling to come up,” along with concerns related to crime and disparities in education and wealth.

It’s historic, he said, because, “We came saying we want to help those that are struggling.”

Prior to Tuesday’s election, Winston told Sahan Journal: “God works on his own time. To overcome some of the issues that we’ve dealt with to get where we are now, we had to do the hard work of learning how things work, building the coalition, collaborating with people, building personal relationships across the city.”

Winston won the primary election in August by a wide margin.

He is CEO of Guaranteed America, a firm that helps Black-, Indigenous-, and people-of- color-owned businesses with advocacy at the State Capitol. Guaranteed America also manages a coalition of five support organizations that help small businesses grow.

Public safety has been a key issue throughout the race. Winston detailed a threefold approach. 

He plans to fully fund the police, invest in services that support the police such as community-based violence prevention organizations, and increase funding for youth programming, especially south of 85th Avenue North, an area with older housing and more poverty.

Winston describes his approach to public safety as “upstream”—one focused on preventative measures.

He supports groups like The Village BP, which has advocated on behalf of the 2,500-plus residents at the Huntington Place apartments, and the African American Women Awareness Group, a community-based organization that supports women experiencing domestic violence.

Winston grew up in a suburb of Chicago and moved to Minnesota when he was 10. He attended Northwestern University in Illinois before earning a master of business administration from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota, where he was class president.

His grandparents have roots in the Jim Crow Deep South, where his grandfather witnessed lynchings. The region’s racist policies pushed the family to move to Chicago in search of better lives. His college-educated parents passed their values on to him. His family’s experiences have shaped his focus on youth programming.

“When we look at the youth today—even affordability of housing in a city like Brooklyn Park—it’s almost like those opportunities for them to move ahead are disappearing,” Winston has previously said.

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JD Duggan

JD Duggan is a Twin Cities–based reporter with experience covering housing, development, criminal justice and protest movements. JD reports at Finance & Commerce and has bylines in The Intercept,...