League of Women Voters creates impact

Candidates bring new perspective

Deb+Brinkman+responds+to+an+audience+provided+question+Oct.+17+at+St.+Louis+Park+City+Hall+Candidate+Forum.+Deb+Brinkman+is+running+for+City+Council+at+Large+A.
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League of Women Voters creates impact

Deb Brinkman responds to an audience provided question Oct. 17 at St. Louis Park City Hall Candidate Forum. Deb Brinkman is running for City Council at Large A.

Deb Brinkman responds to an audience provided question Oct. 17 at St. Louis Park City Hall Candidate Forum. Deb Brinkman is running for City Council at Large A.

Emmy Pearson

Deb Brinkman responds to an audience provided question Oct. 17 at St. Louis Park City Hall Candidate Forum. Deb Brinkman is running for City Council at Large A.

Emmy Pearson

Emmy Pearson

Deb Brinkman responds to an audience provided question Oct. 17 at St. Louis Park City Hall Candidate Forum. Deb Brinkman is running for City Council at Large A.

By Sofie Geretz, St. Louis Park High School

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The candidates at the League of Women Voters Candidate Forum exceeded expectations, according to St. Louis Park City Council candidate Nadia Mohamed’s campaign communications manager Carolyn Guddal.

“Every candidate performed really well tonight. I think that each one had a unique perspective to give,” Guddal said. “It was fantastic to see such a great turnout. To have all of these people come together and express why they’re running for city council and why St. Louis Park is so important to them.”

According to senior Ellen Poulter, the League of Women voters provides an alternate support system for candidates than the Democratic or Republican parties.

“It’s important to have women feel supported in their endeavor to run for office and have a group of other strong women behind them,” Poulter said. “The League of Women Voters doesn’t just endorse candidates, they also work with candidates and they directly support them. The DFL and GOP do that too, but there’s a different type of support system involved.”

Guddal said the many varied opinions within the pool of candidates were vital for proper representation of the city’s demographic.

“It’s so important that three out of the seven candidates at the table were immigrants and almost half the candidates were women,” Guddal said. “It’s really significant in our current era of politics that, particularly at the city level, there are voices coming to the table that have never been heard before.”

Poulter said it is important for more women to be in politics in order to influence important issues that pertain to women.

“Even Minnesota, which is a fairly liberal state, if you look at the makeup of our house, there are significantly more men than there are women and anything to do to stabilize that, so things end up on the House floor, such as parental leave and women’s health issues and things like that,” Poulter said. “Women provide an alternate perspective. It’s hard to (understand an issue) if you didn’t directly experience it.”

Guddal said the turnout for the League of Women Voters forum was both large and diverse.

“It was really exciting to see so many people both young and old, and everywhere in between come out tonight,” Guddal said.

St. Louis Park City Council candidate Nadia Mohamed said she wishes to see diverse points of view included within local government.

“I really want to build on the inclusive activity, whatever that means for people. I really want to make sure that everybody (is) being heard and they are part of the building process,” Mohamed said.

Guddal said the candidates at the forum were all positive, impactful additions to the event.

“All the candidates gave a great performance and really conveyed why it was so important for them to be running for City Council and why they want to be a part of our city’s decision making processes,” Guddal said.

According to Mohamed, she saw an increase in her political involvement within the city as the next step to her overarching goal of community building.

“Being engaged in the city (is important), and I’ve been doing a lot of community engagement, making sure that people are connecting and building relationships so that in times of crisis, they are coming from a place of trust. Running for office or city official seemed like the next level to that.”

According to Guddal, Mohamed is a strong candidate for city council due to her positive attributes, such as her youth and personal background.

“I think Nadia is a dynamic, energetic, passionate young person who is intentional about the work that she does. She’s a necessary voice,” Guddal said. “She would be the first Muslim woman to ever be elected to St. Louis Park City Council (and) the only person under 35 years old on the council. She really brings a valuable perspective that other candidates simply can’t convey.”

Mohamed said she will continue to learn and grow, constantly evolving.

“There’s so much I have to learn and I’m constantly (in) learning mode,” Mohamed said. “I’ve asked every city council person, ‘Would you say the learning never stops?’ and (it) never does.”

This story was originally published on The Echo on November 4, 2019.