Voters at the Brian Coyle Community Center in the Ceder-Riverside neighborhood in Minneapolis, Minnesota casting their vote on Nov. 3rd, 2020. Credit: Jaida Grey Eagle | Sahan Journal

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As the voting force of Minnesota’s immigrant and new American communities grows during this year’s election season, so will their representation in elected offices. 

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, the nation’s most prominent Somali politician, easily fended off a primary challenge earlier this year and will very likely go on to serve a second term after tonight’s results. In the state Legislature, incumbents like Representatives Jay Xiong, Samantha Vang, and Mohamud Noor should easily sail to reelection. 

But the Capitol also seems likely to see newcomers like Omar Fateh and Esther Agbaje, who both unseated incumbents during this summer’s primary election.

In closer races, DFLers like Amir Malik presented a strong challenge to unseat GOP incumbent Nolan West in Blaine. 

Further down ballot, multiple candidates from immigrant backgrounds are vying for city council  seats in suburbs like Brooklyn Park, where a majority of residents are now people of color.

And in outstate Minnesota, candidates like Oballa Oballa, who came to the U.S. in 2013 from Ethiopia, are throwing their hat in the ring. 

Sahan Journal has been following each of these races and we’ll update this post with results as  they come in.

Congress

After facing an expensive DFL primary challenge earlier this year, Rep. Ilhan Omar easily defeated Republican Lacey Johnson for a second term in Congress.

State races

Sen. Foung Hawj, who is Hmong and was first elected to the senate in 2012, easily beat challenger Alexander Buster Deputie, a Liberian former refugee who ran as a Republican in the heavily Democratic east St. Paul district

Omar Fateh, the son of Somali immigrants, defeated Republican challenger Bruce Lundeen and will represent south Minneapolis in the state Senate. 

Sahra Odowa, daughter of Somali immigrants, lost her challenge to incumbent Republican Sen. Eric Pratt to represent the Shakopee area.

Patricia Torres Ray, who grew up in Colombia and was first elected to the state Senate in 2006, easily won reelection to a fourth term Tuesday night against Republican Diane Napper and Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis Party candidate Chris Wright.

Jay Xiong, a Hmong DFL legislator, was first elected to the state House of Representatives two years ago. He handily beat Republican Fred Turk Tuesday night in a safe DFL St. Paul district.

Aisha Gomez, a DFLer first elected in 2018, easily defeated Republican Ross Tenneson in for a second term to represent south Minneapolis. 

Hodan Hassan, a Somali woman first elected to state House two years ago, handily beat Republican Arjun Kataria for a second term.

Mohamud Noor, who was first elected as a DFLer two years ago to the state House, succeeding Ilhan Omar to represent Minneapolis’ Cedar-Riverside area, ran this year unopposed. 

Kaohly Her, first elected in 2018 to represent part of St. Paul in the state House, easily defeated Republican Sherry Schrack in a safe DFL district.

Samantha Vang, a DFLer, won a second term to represent Brooklyn Center with 63 percent of the vote against Republican Charlotte Smith and Legal Marijuana Now Party candidate Mary O’Connor.

Tou Xiong, who first won election in 2018 to represent Maplewood as a DFL candidate, beat Republican William Johnston by 20 percentage points late Tuesday night with all precincts reporting. 

Amir Malik, a DFL candidate for state House in Blaine, lost to unseat incumbent Republican Nolan West by more than 1,000 votes.

Esther Agbaje, a DFL newcomer and daughter of Nigerian immigrants, easily defeated Republican Alan Shilepsky and Green Party candidate Lisa Neal-Delgado to represent downtown and north Minneapolis in the state House.

Suburbs

Abdullahi Abdulle, a Somali immigrant and associate transportation planner with the City of Minneapolis, won election to New Brighton City Council, where he’ll serve a first term.

Amada Márquez Simula, originally from Madison and daughter of a father who immigrated to Mexico, has won her race to be mayor of Columbia Heights. “This is the first place I’ve lived where I feel like I truly belong,” she said of her city.

Susan Pha, who is Hmong and the first person of color to serve on Brooklyn Park’s city council, won reelection by beating Kenyan-born Henry Momanyi.

Alfreda Daniels, originally from Liberia, lost her bid city council in neighboring Brooklyn Center. 

Janet Kitui and Ukasha Dakane, both originally from Kenya, lost their bids for two open city council seats in Edina. 

Minneapolis/St. Paul

Adriana Cerrillo, who is originally from Mexico, narrowly leads challenger Christa Mims by less than 250 votes with all precincts reporting. 

Jim Vue, the only Hmong member of the St. Paul School Board, won election after being appointed to the position earlier this year. He replaced Marny Xiong, who tragically died from COVID-19 earlier this year. Jamila Mame, who is Oromo, ran unsuccessfully for the same seat.

Rochester

Jess Garcia, a candidate for Rochester School Board, won election Tuesday night. “I will be one of, if not the youngest, the first woman of color, & the first openly LGBTQ+ school board member,” she tweeted. “Representation matters!”

Rural Minnesota

With all precincts reporting Wednesday morning, Oballa Oballa, who came to the U.S. from Ethiopia in 2013, leads challenger Helen Jahr by just over 50 votes for a city council seat in Austin. 

Judge

Ngozi Akubuike, originally from Nigeria, lost to incumbent Ramsey County Judge Patrick Diamond.

Joey Peters

Joey Peters is a reporter for Sahan Journal. His work has appeared in Reuters, Public Radio International, Columbia Journalism Review, KFAI Radio, the Pioneer Press, City Pages, MinnPost and more. He previously...