FREE SPEECH ZONE | Blong Yang: A Breath of Fresh Air on the Hennepin County Board


Residents of the 2nd District of the Hennepin County Board have a rare opportunity to elect an inspiring new voice to the Hennepin County Board on November 6.  I have had the privilege of getting to know Blong.    He is hard working, smart and running for office for all the right reasons.

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We are in desparate need of a new kind of politics.  Especially in Minneapolis, too often our campaigns are non-events.  Once the DFL party, organized labor and special interest money pick their candidate, the race is considered over.  This is wrong.  And it is not serving us well.

The race for Hennepin County Board in the 2nd District was supposed to fit into this standard formula.  Senator Linda Higgins quickly received all the endorsements and the “smart money” from the lobbyists.  Truth be told, none of them gave Blong a chance.   No one from the media even bothered to show up at Blong’s campaign headquarters on primary night when he made an impressive showing.

When I recently door knocked with Blong in northeast Minneapolis, I was impressed with how many not only knew of his campaign but were excited about his campaign.    I saw how Blong’s humble and thoughtful nature resonated with voters at their door.  In a time of great cynicism, Blong’s integrity and independence would be a breath of fresh air on the County Board.

The Hennepin County Board has done many good things.  The Board, however, has developed a reputation of being distant and not connected to the people it represents.   Blong Yang would do great things to improve the County’s connection to all of its citizens.    In an increasingly diverse county, Blong can speak to the experience of the county’s  new immigrants.  Blong grew up poor and his life story would be an important perspective on the board.  (Remarkably there has never been a person of color on the Hennepin County Board).

I had the privilege of representing northeast Minneapolis on the City Council for twelve years.  It was a wonderful experience.  In my later years of service, however, I became increasingly concerned with the lack of interest in local politics among so many residents.  The absence of any real competition in most local races has led to an apathy that is not healthy.  Blong’s campaign is so welcome because it is challenging our stale notions of how to pick our leaders in Minneapolis and in Hennepin County.

I do hope you vote for Blong on November 6.  However you intend to vote, do yourself a favor and check out the music video on Blong Yang’s website.  If you are feeling discouraged about the state of our politics, the energy and idealism in this video and in his campaign is a welcome tonic.