Credit: Susan Pha campaign

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Susan Pha, the first person of color to serve on the Brooklyn Park City Council, was elected Tuesday to serve as a state senator.

Pha, who is Hmong, received 64 percent of the vote to represent District 38, which encompasses all of Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Center, and parts of nearby suburbs. She defeated Republican candidate Brad Kohler, who received 28 percent of the vote.

Pha led Kohler by 36 percentage points with 90 percent of precincts reporting.

The DFL-endorsed candidate advocates for progressive policies including affordable housing and healthcare, livable wages, and improving relations between the community and the police. She has served on the Brooklyn Park City Council since 2016 and formerly served as the city’s mayor pro tem, taking on the mayor’s duties in their absence.

Her passion for public service, according to her profile on the Brooklyn Park website, stems from her experience immigrating to the United States as a 3-year-old refugee. The opportunities her family received to improve their economic circumstances inspired her to work to create similar opportunities for others.

As state senator, Pha pledges to “create a place where we all can thrive, not just survive,” according to her website.

Pha said on her campaign website that together with her colleagues and community stakeholders, she was able to help secure millions of dollars in transportation and infrastructure investments for the city, support affordable and senior housing, and create over a thousand jobs while on the Brooklyn Park City Council.

She is also a mother of four and the author of two books: “Hmong Names” and “Success that Looks Like Me.”

Pha will replace Democrat Chris Eaton, who began serving in the Senate in 2011, when she assumes office in January. Eaton announced in 2021 that she would not be running for reelection, and endorsed Pha.

“I’ve known Susan and worked with her for many years,” reads an endorsement from Eaton on Pha’s website. “She is passionate, knowledgeable, and a fierce advocate for her constituents.”

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Noor Adwan was an intern at Sahan Journal. She is a fourth-year journalism student at the University of Minnesota.