St. Paul City Council on track to be all-female, most diverse in history

Five women pose for a photo
From left to right, Anika Bowie, Saura Jost, Mitra Jalali, Hwa Jeong Kim and Cheniqua Johnson posed after filing to run for the St. Paul City Council together. All five won their races.
Courtesy photo

Two more St. Paul City Council candidates were declared unofficial winners on Friday, further confirming that the city is on track to have an all-female city council in the next term for the first time ever.

Anika Bowie in Ward 1 and Cheniqua Johnson in Ward 7 were declared the unofficial winners after a ballot reallocation process at the Ramsey County Elections Office on Friday.

Election night results showed both garnered around 40 percent of first-choice votes after Election Day, but that was short of the 50 percent plus one threshold needed to win outright in the ranked choice voting system.

The reallocation of ballots in Ward 3 is scheduled for Monday. Saura Jost had 48.48 percent of first choice votes.

Create a More Connected Minnesota

MPR News is your trusted resource for the news you need. With your support, MPR News brings accessible, courageous journalism and authentic conversation to everyone - free of paywalls and barriers. Your gift makes a difference.

Ward 2 Council Member Rebecca Noecker, Ward 4 Council Member Mitra Jalali and Ward 6 Council Member Nelsie Yang were reelected outright on Tuesday. Hwa Jeong Kim in Ward 5 also won handily on election night, without the need for reallocation.

In an interview with MPR News Saturday, Johnson said she was excited about what the election results might mean for the city moving forward.

“While we are all women, we are also from many different cultural backgrounds with the experiences, professional backgrounds, like the diversity amongst the group extends way beyond our gender,” Johnson said. “And I think that that is reflective of how the city of St. Paul is continuing to evolve and change year after year, but for sure, you know, within the last 20 years.”

It’s likely also to be the city’s youngest and most diverse council ever, and it could be the most politically progressive, with winning candidates focused on housing, racial equity and climate action, among other issues.”

“I do believe we have a council that has caught up now to where voters are. The 2020 Census, just on a representation note, showed that our city is younger than ever,” Jalali told MPR News on Friday. “It showed that our city is more diverse than ever, we’re a majority people of color city, I think that we finally have that makeup reflected in the council.”

Jalali is among the council members who have expressed interest in serving as council president when the new term begins in January.