Staten, two others, lining up for Ellison seat in state House

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A coalition of civic and community leaders is asking Reverend Randolph Staten to consider seeking the seat he once held in the Minnesota State Legislature representing North Minneapolis District 58B. They are telling voters that Staten is an experienced and tested politician, leader and strategist who is without peer, when it comes to capacity and ability to formulate and articulate a legislative vision for North Minneapolis and for the state of Minnesota.

The seat is currently occupied by State Rep. Keith Ellison, who on May 6 won the DFL endorsement to replace U.S. Rep. Martin Sabo. Ellison was up for reelection this November.

The state 58B Legislative District Convention, when it met last month, postponed endorsing a candidate for the seat pending the outcome of Ellison’s bid for the US 5th Congressional District DFL endorsement.

The petition to draft Staten was introduced by Rev. Jerry McAfee, pastor of the powerhouse congregation New Salem Baptist Church, and president of the Minnesota State Baptist Convention. Rev. Ian Bethel, pastor of New Beginnings Baptist Tabernacle, and former president of State Baptist Convention, will direct the petition drive with the support of lawyer, advocate, Matt Stark. The group says it will get over a thousand signatures on its petition to “draft” Staten to run for legislative post.

Staten was elected to the seat in 1980, becoming the first black person to serve in the legislature representing a district with a high percentage of black voters. That district today, 26 years later, is in fact, majority black.

Staten defeated incumbent Jim Casserly on his second run against the entrenched “Northside DFL Mafia,” as the North Minneapolis political juggernaut was called. The Northside political club was power personified. State Representative Jim Rice was godfather over a network of political lords that included State Senators Bob Tennesen and Dr. John Salchert; and County Commissioner “Pumpkin” Joe Greenstein, his successor Sam Sivanich, and a host of City Council “young lions,” including the 4th Ward’s John Derus, 3rd Ward’s Dick Miller and 5th Ward’s Lou DeMars.

Staten mounted an effective political campaign that broke their stranglehold on DFL politics in North Minneapolis, clearing the way for black candidates’ successes, including Van White’s victory in Minneapolis City Council 5th Ward contest, and Sharon Sayles Belton’s 8th Ward City Council success, then mayoral victories.

Staten was succeeded in 58B by Richard Jefferson, then lawyer Gregory Gray, then current seat holder, Representative Keith Ellison.

The petition being circulated to churches and community groups says, “We have the opportunity to return one of the most outstanding legislators in the history of Minnesota politics back to the Legislature. Staten has repeatedly been recognized as one of the ‘Most Outstanding Legislators in Minnesota and America’”.

Antonio Rosell and Willie Domingues have also announced that they are candidates for the District 58B seat at the State of Minnesota House of Representatives. In announcing his candidacy, Rosell said, “Our district and the people of our state have been well served by State Representative Keith Ellison, but as he prepares to go to Washington on our behalf, his seat in the Minnesota House is open. I am stepping forward as a candidate for this seat because I believe I have the ideas, energy and passion to continue the work he has started, and to make a positive difference in our district, our city and our state.”

Rosell is an urban planner and civil engineer and is founder and director of Community Design Group, a people-centered, asset-based urban planning, policy and design consulting group in Minneapolis. The focus of his firm’s work is economic development, urban design, transportation planning and community participation processes. He also has first-hand experience in small business development, having helped start up and manage Guayaquil Restaurant, a successful family-owned restaurant on Lake Street in South Minneapolis. He is a regular guest lecturer at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute and writes a weekly column for Insight News.

A native of North Minneapolis, Augustine “Willie” Domingues, father of four, was born and raised in North Minneapolis. He lives 707 Upton Av. North. He said his announcement that he is seeking to fill the seat in the State Legislature being vacated by State Representative Keith Ellison “was met with enthusiasm, as he promised to bring community-based initiatives to face changes in the economic and social conditions facing the local community.”

Past executive director of Centro Cultural Chicano, and having worked on the front line of community organizations for the last 25 years, he said his candidacy was embraced by former City Council member Jackie Cherryhomes, and former state representative Richard Jefferson. Domingues said in an interview with Insight News that he has the support of community leaders like Vusi Zulu, Shane Price, and attorney Mark Masica, who was elated with the decision of a Northside-born resident to run for the office.

“It is simply time for a home-grown response from someone who has the commitment to get the job done and will always speak the truth,” Domingues said.

Domingues is Director of Community Outreach at Center for Training and Careers, located in South Minneapolis and Richfield. He attended Grant Elementary School, Lincoln Middle School, North Community High School and Minneapolis Community and Technical College.

He hosts Sabados Alegres, a bi-lingual weekly radio broadcast Saturdays on KFAI FM 90.3.

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