In historic moment, St. Paul’s first all-female city council sworn in

In historic moment, St. Paul’s first all-female city council sworn in

In historic moment, St. Paul’s first all-female city council sworn in

Tuesday was a historic day in St. Paul as the city’s first-ever all-female city council was sworn in.

Not only are all seven council members-elect women but all are also under the age of 40 and six are women of color.

In November, St. Paul voters used ranked choice voting to choose between 30 candidates and selected three incumbent council members: Rebecca Noecker in Ward Two, Mitra Jalali in Ward Four and Nelsie Yang in Ward Six.

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Noecker will be beginning her third term, saying the new all-women council is a small piece of the bigger picture.

“It shows the strides that we’ve made, it shows that our community is ready. And I just, I see nothing but great things ahead,” said Noecker.

Among the four council newcomers is Ward Seven’s Cheniqua Johnson, who says her focus is on improving public safety and prioritizing affordable housing in St. Paul.

“Having an all-woman Council gives us an opportunity to address things like affordable housing, maybe -just maybe – it gives us an opportunity to make sure that our community is safe because we care about our families. It’s about our kids,” said Cheniqua Johnson, St. Paul City Council Member-Elect for Ward Seven.

Other newcomers include Anika Bowie in Ward One, Saura Jost in Ward Three and Hwa Jeong Kim in Ward Five.

“Two months ago, we were watching the ballots get reallocated and now we’re sitting here in an office that outside has my name on it,” Johnson said.

She is soaking it all in.

“It’s genuinely still indescribable,” she said.

Johnson said voters elected the historic group for a reason.

“They wanted to see energy that would be able to address some really big issues that are facing us like housing and economic development,” she said.

All seven women were sworn in on Tuesday in St. Paul to mark the official start to the work ahead.

“I’m feeling butterflies. I’m feeling excited. It’s my third inauguration, but it feels different,” Noecker said.

Noecker is now the longest-serving member of the group.

She said voters are looking to the council for representation and results.

“We’re young women. We’re an incredibly diverse group of women, but we’re also an exceptionally capable, experienced and talented group of women. I think that needs to be stated and it can’t be overlooked,” Noecker said. “We are coming into this job incredibly well-suited to the challenges ahead of us and I think we’re going to live up to all that’s being expected of us.”

Council members want those with negative feedback to give them a chance to do the work.

“Give us a chance like you’ve given many council members and leaders in the past,” Johnson said. “Give us a phone call. Give us the respect of just having a conversation.”

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