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Will Minnesota’s changing demographics impact who gets elected? The Diversity Dude reflects on St Cloud candidates

St. Cloud has grown increasingly diverse. According to US Census data, the Black population of the city has increased by more than 850% since 2000, rising from around 1,400 in 2000 to about 13,000 in 2020.

 

Even as St Cloud’s demographics have changed, the city council has remained predominantly white.

 

Across the state, Minnesotans are now voting in the state’s primary. In-person voting is on Aug. 13 but citizens can vote by mail or cast in-person ballots at early election centers before then.

 

St Cloud voters will narrow the field of those running for city council. There are 16 names on the primary ballot; the top six vote-getters will advance from the Aug. 13 primary and appear on the Nov. 5 general election ballot.

 

Two of the 16 candidates vying for the open at-large St Cloud city council seats are Somali-born. If either or both candidates win, they would be the first Somali immigrants to be elected officials in the city.

 

Lambers Fisher, licensed marriage and family therapist, DEI trainer and host of The Diversity Dude podcast on the SHElettaMakesMeLaugh.com platform, thinks that the election provides an opportunity for voters to consider which candidates reflect the city’s population.

 

“There should not be change for change’s sake. There should be change to help meet a greater variety of needs as a community’s needs change,” said Fisher. “New candidates say, we need to be leaders as well, not because our skin color qualifies us but because we see needs not being met and we have ideas on how to meet them.”

 

Census data reveals that even as St Cloud’s Black population is growing, its white population has declined by roughly 5,000 residents in the past two decades. The number of white residents dropped from about 90% of the total population in 2000 to about 70% in the 2020 count.

 

“Resting on ‘we have always done it this way’ doesn’t work. When the population changes, efforts to meet needs must change too,” he said.

 

Fisher noted that, historically, new arrivals to communities have sought elected office to bring their concerns and interests to the table and to share leadership in public decision-making.

 

“Demographics are changing across the country and change is always hard,” Fisher conceded. “When communities resist change, there is tension and discord. Communities don’t have the luxury to resist change. Healthy communities adapt to those changes and focus on efforts that seek to meet everyone’s needs.”

 

 

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