Marla Helseth ran for the Minnesota Senate in District 49 as a Republican candidate. Credit: Marla Helseth campaign

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Marla Helseth lost her race Tuesday night to represent Eden Prairie and southern Minnetonka in the state Senate. 

The former model and restaurant manager, a Republican, received about 38 percent of the vote in her bid to represent District 49. Democratic incumbent Steve Cwodzinski received 62 percent of the vote. Cwodzinski has represented the region since 2017.

Helseth, 54, was one five candidates hoping to become the first Black women elected to the Minnesota Senate in 164 years of statehood. She was the only Republican in the group.

“I want to inject some new energy into the Senate,” Helseth has previously said about her goals for the office. “We need a fresh start in government after our COVID years. We need a new perspective, too, even among our Republican legislators.”

As a newcomer to politics, Helseth told Sahan Journal in March that she wanted to prioritize “better policing,” economic growth, reducing government spending, and addressing high taxes. She also wanted to improve education and to help businesses in her district recover from the pandemic.

“A lot of minority students—Black, Hispanic, and others—are still not doing well. I don’t think fully funding schools necessarily points to good outcomes with student education,” has Helseth said, adding that she wanted more involvement from parents in the education system.

Hibah Ansari is a reporter for Sahan Journal and corps member with Report For America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. She was named the 2022 Young Journalist of...