MINNEAPOLIS, August 4, 2022 — Former Minneapolis City Council Member Don Samuels today announced he has won the endorsement of five local mayors in his primary bid to unseat Rep. Ilhan Omar in Minnesota’s Fifth Congressional District. Mayors Jacob Frey of Minneapolis, Jake Spano of St. Louis Park, Shep Harris of Golden Valley, Jim Hovland of Edina, and Kathi Hemken of New Hope jointly announced their support as the campaign enters the final days before polls close on August 9th. These mayors represent three-quarters of the population of Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District.
“As our city and nation navigate great challenges, we need partners across levels of government who prioritize teamwork, collaboration, and a seriousness of approach to match the seriousness of the issues we face. This is an endorsement for someone who’s shown an ability to do just that,” said Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey.
“As the Chair of the Public Safety committee on the city council,” he continues, “Don Samuels fought tirelessly against the violence in neighborhoods across Minneapolis, helping to lower crime by double digits. Don has been an advocate for his community on the Northside for decades, and someone who has worked with city leaders to bring investment to underserved communities. Whether it’s the 5th ward or the 5th district, Don Samuels puts his constituents first. I think he will be an excellent representative.”
Mayor Frey notably won reelection to a second term amidst the 2021 election that included a ballot referendum to remove the Minneapolis Police Department from the city charter. An initiative championed by Rep. Omar, the referendum failed to win the support of voters—especially among Samuels’ north Minneapolis neighbors, over 60% of whom opposed the measure. Samuels has made public safety a cornerstone of his platform and draws a stark contrast to Rep. Omar’s leadership in the “Defund the Police” movement with his own spearheading of the movement to defeat the ballot referendum.
Mayor Frey has also delivered much-needed relief for low-income communities, securing funding from the state and federal governments for projects such as Stable Homes, Stable Schools and developing new shelter models to address the city’s homelessness crisis. Samuels often cites the importance of local, state, and federal governments working in unison to provide relief and results to the communities who benefit from these programs. As a member of Congress, Samuels promises to be a “collaborative leader” that reaches across the aisle to get things done on behalf of his constituents.
“Effective leadership is about making a point and delivering tangible results for your residents,” said Mayor Jake Spano of St. Louis Park. “That means sitting down at the table with people who you disagree with and working things out in the best interest of your constituents. Don Samuels is a proven leader who has improved his north Minneapolis community for decades. I support Don because I know that he will go to Washington and make a difference for my neighbors.”
Bordering North Minneapolis, Golden Valley residents are particularly concerned with the issue of public safety who fear rising crime rates in the city will begin to bleed out into neighboring suburbs. Mayor Harris spoke to Golden Valley’s voters’ concerns in his endorsement, saying “Don Samuels has been a consistent advocate for the safety of our neighborhoods. His ‘both/and’ position – that we need to address both police aggression and community violence – was sorely needed as our region recovered from the civil unrest of 2020. While some in Congress oppose any legislation that provides funding for law enforcement officers, I know Don will work with his municipal partners to deliver the resources that we need.”
Bills meant to shore up police departments across the country were recently held up by a small number of progressive Democrats unwilling to compromise on the issue of police funding. One such bill was Minnesota Congressman Dean Phillips’ Pathways to Policing Act which sought to aid state and local law enforcement agencies struggling to maintain staffing levels. Another bill sought to provide financial support for police departments with fewer than 200 officers—which would include all of the Fifth District’s suburbs. Samuels vowed to support the efforts of fellow Democrats in passing these bills when he is elected to Congress.
“Don Samuels works hard to build personal connections that transcend partisan political fights. He is going to be a bridge builder,” says Mayor Hovland of Edina, “someone who works with his colleagues to deliver resources to the 5th District. I am proud to support him for Congress.”
Joining the mayors of Minneapolis, Saint Louis Park, Edina, and Golden Valley is Mayor Kathi Hemken of New Hope. Hemken has “worked with Don on several committees” and speaks highly of Samuels’ leadership.
“Not only is he a joy to work with,” said Hemken, “but you know that when you’re working with him, you’re going to get stuff done. Don is a responsible leader willing to collaborate with his peers to produce results. Most importantly—as someone who grew up on the Northside—I know Don will be a responsive leader for our communities.
Responding to the mayors’ endorsements, Samuels released a statement saying he is “honored by the endorsements of such distinguished leaders in the Fifth District. The mayors’ endorsements today come from leaders who know the importance of all levels of government working hand-in-hand to get things done. They know that when I am in Congress, I will work with them to bring local issues to the national stage. Together we can make our communities safer. We can increase affordable housing. We can support our local businesses. And we can protect the rights of our communities. Together we can make a difference.”
A native of Kingston, Jamaica, Samuels was born the third of 10 children to a Pentecostal pastor and seamstress. In 1970, he immigrated to the United States to pursue an education at New York’s Pratt Institute and later became a toy designer for some of the industry’s top companies.
After moving to Minnesota, Samuels met and married his wife and together they moved to the Jordan neighborhood in North Minneapolis, where they continued a lifelong commitment to always live in the most challenged part of their city.
After a bullet went through their soon-to-be-born daughter’s bedroom window, the Samuelses began organizing their neighbors. Together, they began advocating for policy changes and additional resources to improve community safety. Eventually, Samuels ran for office himself, serving three terms on the Minneapolis City Council and one on the Minneapolis Public Schools Board.
For more information and updates, follow Don Samuels online or on social media by visiting www.DonSamuels.com; Don Samuels for Congress on Facebook; @DonSamuelsMN on Instagram; and @DonSamuelsMN on Twitter.