As the first in the city’s history, St. Paul, Minnesota, currently boasts a fully female city council. The pioneers, who are all under 40 years old and primarily women of color, have taken office and are eager to put their newfound positions to good use.
Chenique Johnson and Anika Bowie, two trailblazing Black women, are represented among the outstanding women. 28-year-old Johnson, who has become the first Black woman to represent the East Side’s Seventh Ward, told the Star Tribune, “This is a huge milestone, but it’s not just about the fact that we’re all women. We are experienced. We love and care about our city. And we have garnered the trust of our communities throughout the entire city of St. Paul. That’s what we heard at the ballot box.”
She shared her excitement on social media by posting some celebratory photos with the caption “I am proud to officially be Councilmember-elect Cheniqua Johnson.”
“Thank you for electing the first Black woman and the first person of color to this seat. Thank you for electing the second Black woman to ever serve on the Saint Paul City Council.”
According to the City, Johnson is a native Minnesotan and a proud first-generation homeowner on Saint Paul’s East Side. Being the first person in her family to earn a four-year degree, she studied at the University of Minnesota and has worked with political authorities to serve the people of Minnesota ever since.
Along with supporting Democratic campaigns around the state, she has collaborated with leaders of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL) in her role as outreach and inclusion officer.
While serving as a program officer for the Saint Paul and Minnesota Foundation and the East Side Funders Group, Johnson saw to the contribution of more than $2 million in resources to enhance the well-being of her neighborhood’s residents.
Bowie, 31, is the second Black woman on the council. She is a community activist and businesswoman who was raised in St. Paul’s historic Rondo district. The city noted that Bowie has spent the last 12 years working on grassroots campaigns and has spoken with thousands of voters to support the election of progressive politicians all around the nation.
Her family has resided in Saint Paul for almost a century. She graduated from St. Paul Central High School and Hamline University.
She expressed her excitement for the election to the Star Tribune, saying, “This moment is just so beautiful. I just want to say: What we’re going to do on the City Council is going to be so transformational.”
Before Election Day, Bowie told the Sahan Journal that her goal as a candidate was to “bring a global perspective to Ward 1, uniting diverse voices.” According to the outlet, Bowie defeated runner-up James Lo by a considerable majority in Ward 1. Conversely, Johnson beat Pa Der Vang, who came in second, by a narrow margin to win the election in Ward 7.
St. Paul City Council President Mitra Jalali told the Associated Press, “We’re a multifaith, multicultural group of women. Our professional experiences are what people trusted as much as our personal ones. We have a clear policy vision that we got elected on.”