Samakab Hussein poses for a portrait at his campaign office in Frogtown. Credit: Jaida Grey Eagle | Sahan Journal

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Democrat Samakab Hussein is heading to the state Capitol to represent the same St. Paul district he’s lived in since immigrating to Minnesota as a teenager. 

“I believe in my heart this is the most beautiful and diverse district in the state,” Samakab told Sahan Journal before Tuesday’s election. 

Samakab, 42, is the first Somali American politician from St. Paul elected to the Minnesota Legislature. He’s no stranger to local politics and civic responsibility, and says he was inspired to run for public office by his 93-year-old father, who never missed an election.

Samakab received 71 percent of the vote to represent Minnesota House District 65A with 100 percent of precincts reporting. The district includes the St. Paul neighborhoods of Frogtown, Summit-University, and portions of Midway and the North End. His Republican opponent, John Schonebaum, received 15 percent of the vote.

Legal Marijuana Now candidate Miki Frost earned 13 percent of the vote.

An accountant by trade, Samakab has been interested in politics since meeting the late Senator Paul Wellstone as a student. He’s been active in the Frogtown area, where he lives, and ran unsuccessfully for St. Paul City Council in 2015. 

He previously served as the campaign manager for Representative Rena Moran, whom he calls a mentor and friend. When Moran stepped down from District 65A to run for a spot on the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners, Samakab stepped up and easily won the DFL endorsement for his run at the seat. 

“I’m ready for the job,” Samakab said. 

He’s enjoying his time on the campaign trail and said he likes having personal interactions with people in the district. He’s heard the most about public safety, and says the Legislature needs to invest more in local communities, public schools, and small businesses to create safer neighborhoods. 

Samakab is a proud product of the St. Paul Public School system and said the state should be using its $10 billion surplus to fully fund schools and properly pay teachers and support staff. He said he will work to change school funding so that all public schools are funded equally throughout the state, regardless of zip code. 

“I’m excited to bring my experience to the Capitol,” he said. 

As a candidate in a safely democratic district, Samakab spent his campaign knocking on local doors to turn out the vote for other DFLers, and journeyed across Minnesota to support DFL candidates in rural and suburban areas. 

Andrew Hazzard is a staff reporter with Sahan Journal who focuses on climate change and environmental justice issues. After starting his career in daily newspapers in Mississippi and North Dakota, Andrew...