Mike Elliott was elected Mayor of Brooklyn Center in 2018. Credit: MPR News

Although a rising politician in Minnesota, Mayor Mike Elliott really entered the international spotlight on April 11, when police in Brooklyn Center shot and killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright. 

Being mayor of a relatively small suburban community in Minnesota is typically a part-time job, with more ceremonial and symbolic functions than real power. The mayor’s vote has the same political weight as any member’s vote on the city council.

But Elliott’s powers have expanded widely during the crisis. The City Council voted to fire city manager Curt Boganey and give Elliott control of the police department, Fox9 News reported.

Now, the entrepreneur and political newcomer stands at the center of America’s latest police killing of a Black man. 

Here are five facts about Elliott. 

  1. Elliott is an immigrant. He came to the United States from Liberia with his family at age 11. Liberians began coming to America in 1991, when President George H.W. Bush granted temporary protected status to people fleeing civil war in the West African nation. Minnesota is home to the largest Liberian community in the U.S., about 30,000 people. Many Liberians have settled in Brooklyn Center and neighboring Brooklyn Park.
  2. Elliott is the first Black mayor of Brooklyn Center, and the first Liberian American. Following an unsuccessful mayoral campaign in 2014, Elliott won in 2018 with 55 percent of the vote. He promised to unify the diverse suburb. “The greatest opportunity we have is bringing people together,” Elliott told MPR in an interview, following his election in 2018. 
  3. Elliott graduated from Brooklyn Center High School and Hamline University in St. Paul. He is an entrepreneur who started a mentoring program called Fastforward Education, which works with students at Brooklyn Center schools. Brooklyn Center public schools serve many low-income students: 80 percent of Brooklyn Center High School attendees qualify for free or reduced lunch, according to the Minnesota Department of Education. 
  4. His mayoral role is a part-time job. Elliott earns $13,079 as mayor, according to the Sun Post, a local newspaper that covers the north metro. He is a certified full-stack software engineer, according to his LinkedIn profile, meaning he can work as both a web designer and developer. 
  5. Elliott took the helm of a city that just completed construction on a much-needed water treatment plant in 2016. He ran on a platform that promoted attracting new development and housing to the city to help ease the tax burden on local homeowners.

Andrew Hazzard is a 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 returned...