New Brooklyn Center mayor wants to celebrate city's diversity

Mike Elliott is the new mayor of Brooklyn Center, Minn.
Mike Elliott is the new mayor of Brooklyn Center, Minn. He took office in January 2019.
Mike Moen | MPR News

The Twin Cities suburb of Brooklyn Center set a milestone last week when the city's first black and Liberian-American mayor was sworn in.

In November, Mike Elliott defeated incumbent Tim Willson for the top post in the Twin Cities' most diverse suburb.

Elliott and his family immigrated to Minnesota from Liberia when he was 11. He's a graduate of Brooklyn Center High School and Hamline University, and has worked to ensure young people's voices are part of community discussions.

In a conversation with MPR News, Elliott said he wants to ensure the many ethnic groups in Brooklyn Center have access to and are represented in city government.

He also wants to foster more unity among the many ethnic groups represented in the city.

"When I did knock on doors and talk to people (during the campaign)... one of the main things they said to me is, 'I want an opportunity, I want to be able to build a stronger relationship with my neighbors,'" he said. "People are very much interested in doing that, in coming together — and I feel that's one of the biggest roles that I can play, is really finding ways to bring people together, finding ways to celebrate all of our unique cultures and backgrounds in the city."

And Elliott noted that he wants to bring residents together not just to celebrate — but also to govern, with diverse voices included in the decision-making process.

Click on the audio player above to hear the interview.