A state representative instrumental in improving the quality of life of Black women in Minnesota has resigned her legislative seat.
In a thread posted on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, Rep. Ruth Richardson (DFL-52B) announced her resignation effective September 1. In a text message to the MSR the following day, she says she decided to resign to focus her efforts in running Planned Parenthood North Central States, where she is executive director, at a time when women’s rights are under attack.
“The healthcare landscape of this post-Roe world is tumultuous and dangerous, not only as it relates to abortion, but as politicians ramp up attacks on LGBTQ+ communities, staffing shortages, [and] rising maternal mortality rates,” said Richardson. “There is incredible and important work to be accomplished at Planned Parenthood North Central States and I will be focusing my efforts there.”
Richardson, who lives in Mendota Heights, was first elected as a state representative in 2018, ousting incumbent Regina Barr, a Republican from Inver Grove Heights. During her time as a state representative, she authored bills that required employers to provide paid family leave, banned warrior training for police officers, and declared racism a public health crisis.
She called for the creation of an office to investigate Missing and Murdered Black Women and Girls, as well as a partnership to prevent infant mortality and to make Juneteenth a state holiday.
Reflecting Saturday on her tenure, Richardson said it was difficult to say which of her actions were the most consequential. “It’s difficult to narrow down to one achievement. I am incredibly proud of the work that I have led to build a stronger, more equitable and inclusive state,” said Richardson.
“It takes a village to do this work, and I’m incredibly honored to have worked with the community on so many diverse initiatives and have a tremendous amount of hope for the future as my former colleagues prepare for next session.”
Her resignation comes months after facing accusations of union busting in late March. Her organization fired two union organizers and issued “final written warnings” to 11 others involved in organizing the union, apparently for discussing confidential information related to the firing of one of their colleagues, according to the Minnesota Reformer.
The St. Paul Union Advocate reported that Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare Minnesota and Iowa, which is organizing Planned Parenthood North Central States workers, rescinded its endorsement of Richardson as a result.
Richardson said in a text message on Saturday that her resignation had nothing to do with her organization’s ongoing unionizing activities and says she supports her organization’s workers in forming a union. “I firmly believe that the unionization of Planned Parenthood North Central States will positively impact our work climate and culture, ultimately improving the high-quality care we provide to our patients and the communities we serve,” said Richardson.
Since Richardson resigned with one more session left in her term, Gov. Tim Walz must now declare a vacancy for her seat and call for a special election so someone can be elected to her seat before the 2024 legislative session begins on February 12. Walz has not done so at press time.
Richardson may have been the first woman of color and the first Black woman to be elected to her seat, which has historically been a swing seat occupied by White politicians.