St. Paul has officially elected an all-women city council, after the Ramsey County Election Office reallocated votes to Ward 1’s top vote-getter Anika Bowie, confirming her election on Friday afternoon.
Bowie’s win came hours after Cheniqua Johnson was declared the winner of the Ward 7 race, beating Pa Der Vang by 134 votes after one round of reallocation. Bowie and Johnson filed for the city council race, alongside Saura Jost and Hwa Jeong Kim, in August. The four newcomers pledged their support for one another to bring about the youngest, most diverse, and first all-female city council in St. Paul’s history.
Jost received 49 percent of the vote in Ward 3 on election night, but declared victory after runner-up Isaac Russel conceded on Tuesday night. Kim won the Ward 5 race after receiving 52 percent of the vote in the first round. Incumbents Mitra Jalali, Rebecca Noecker and Nelsie Yang all secured well over 50 percent of the votes in the first round of the election, solidifying their wins.
Since 2011, St. Paul has held ranked choice voting with voters casting their vote for multiple candidates and ranking them based on preference. A candidate must secure a majority of the first-choice votes to win in the first round. If not, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and their votes are reallocated to the voter’s second choice. This process repeats for multiple rounds until a candidate receives 50 percent of the vote.
Anika Bowie was joined by campaign staff and supporters Tuesday night at the Gnome Craft Pub as she secured 40 percent of the vote in an eight-way race with James Lo and Omar Syed trailing her, both receiving roughly 20 percent of the vote.
Between greeting visitors and taking selfies with loved ones, Bowie checked in with her campaign staff for any developments on the race. On Friday night, Bowie was able to secure the Ward 1 race after beating Lo in the fifth round of reallocation.
Rondo native representing Ward 1
Born and raised in the Rondo neighborhood, Bowie has referenced her family’s history in the neighborhood, which goes back generations, as to why she’s passionate about representing Ward 1.
“I come from a family where we’ve made a lot out of a little,” Bowie said in an interview Tuesday. “With the power of the people, we’re going to make sure that Ward 1 is a voice for everybody. We’re going to keep listening. We’re going to keep learning, and we’re going to keep inviting people to help us lead on decisions.”
Bowie graduated from Central High School and went on to attend Hamline University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and corrections and social justice. She spent years in the areas of education and juvenile justice reform, which led her to serve as the Criminal Justice Reform co-chair at the Minneapolis chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Bowie also served as vice president for the Minneapolis NAACP.
She also has experience in community organizing and campaigning as she led the campaign for the Minnesota Restore the Vote Coalition and was the political director for Keith Ellison’s campaign for attorney general.
The Rondo native first ran for the Ward 1 seat in 2019, with the goal of bringing steady jobs and safe streets. Four years later, Bowie continues to hold those same goals as she shared her list of priorities for office.
“I’m all about making sure that we have the resources we need. That the plan and the vision is going to include small businesses. It’s going to include people getting jobs that provide dignity. It’s also going to include public safety that centers wellness,” she said.
Youth leadership movement
Reuben Moore, president and executive officer of Minnesota Community Care, attended Bowie’s election night party at Gnome, sharing his excitement for several races across the metro.
“We had an amazing win by Anika Bowie. An amazing win by Cheniqua. An amazing win by Jeremiah Ellison. This is a great opportunity to refresh our political leadership in our Twin Cities and put the people first,” he said.
Moore states this class of young diverse leaders will help transform how people view economic development, how they approach political engagement, and bring people into the process.
Kate Peters was Bowie’s teacher at Central High School and said that Bowie’s authenticity and ability to listen to constituents will give her an opportunity to create a sense of buy-in when big decisions are being made.
“If you have everybody at the table, then you can work it out so that it’s not something people feel is being imposed on them,” Peters said. She emphasized that Bowie utilized grassroots outreach to gain support from voters, despite other candidates having secured more funding.
Bowie’s campaign manager, Elijah Henderson, underlined the campaign’s focus on community.
“We built a community-centered campaign that emphasized the importance of coming together and recognizing a shared vision,” he said. “I’m incredibly proud of all our team. Every single person who knocked on a door for us, they’re the reason why we won this.”
Charlie St. Dennis served as the campaign’s field director. He shared that while door-knocking across the ward, residents continually expressed their desire to have an accessible council member in office.
“We knocked on tons of doors,” he said. “One thing that we overwhelmingly heard was not about crime, was not about safe streets, was not about any of that. But it was really about accountability and communication. People didn’t know who the city council member was. People want someone that they can count on to reach out to.”
Bowie said that if sworn in she would continue to listen to constituents and engage them on projects that are taking place across the ward, specifically the project in Midway, the Reconnect Rondo land bridge, and the Summit Avenue bike trail.
“We plan on this being an education campaign. And having the voice of the City Council isn’t just going to public hearings. But it’s continuously being in the community and educating everyone around the initiatives that are happening,” she said.