Why I'm Running

Dear neighbor,

My name is Mitra Jalali Nelson: I’m a lifelong Minnesotan, the proud daughter of immigrants, and have devoted my life to fighting for all families to have the same opportunities as mine. I’m running to represent all of us here in Ward 4 on the Saint Paul City Council. I would be honored to earn your 1st choice vote in the Ward 4 special election on August 14, 2018.

My career began in Louisiana in 2008, when I was a high school social studies teacher at an alternative high school on the West Bank of New Orleans as part of Teach For America, just three years after Hurricane Katrina. This experience fostered in me an unshakable belief in the potential of all children, and in the importance of giving every child access to an outstanding public education. I was at the very beginning of my journey, but in that classroom, I started on the path to becoming the leader I am today.

I returned to my home state of Minnesota with a strengthened commitment to public service, including teaching for a third year here. I became an organizer with the Saint Paul Federation of Teachers in the 2012 election cycle, working with Ward 4 neighbors and teachers citywide to pass the Saint Paul Public Schools funding levy—a $39 million annual investment in our teachers and students. The lesson I learned from that experience is that good ideas don’t just happen on their own; you have to organize them into reality. I’m bringing this spirited ethic with me to City Hall, through a resident-driven campaign that bridges the gap between residents and government.

For the past three years I have worked directly on policy and constituent services as a congressional staffer, most recently with U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison in his district office as his public safety and immigration outreach director. As a policy and outreach aide, I have organized briefings, worked on legislation, and partnered with state and city government to drive change in our community and promote social and economic inclusion for all.

I'm now running for City Council because our city needs capable leaders who reflect our growth, our diversity, and our shared commitment to equity. That's the kind of leadership I bring to all of my work, and would be proud to bring to the Saint Paul City Council. Saint Paul is growing rapidly, and it’s on us to ensure that every resident of our city can benefit from that growth. That’s why we need a City Council that is laser-focused on equity.

In a city that is nearly 50% people of color and over 50% renters, and in a ward with one of the fastest-growing renter populations in Saint Paul, I would bring a perspective that is missing on the Council as both a woman of color and a renter myself. The future of our city is also inextricably connected to the future of our Ward, and our ability to end opportunity gaps that persist by race, gender, class, ability and more. I am running to lead with urgency on these issues, with a specific focus on police accountability and true public safety for all, increasing attainable and affordable housing, promoting transit and sustainability, and building community wealth.


I am also deeply honored to have received the endorsement of the Minnesota DFL; our Mayor Melvin Carter; School Board Members Jon Schumacher and Zuki Ellis; Councilmember Dai Thao; Minnesota State Representative Ilhan Omar; the Saint Paul Regional Labor Federation; AFSCME Council 5; SEIU Minnesota State Council; the Saint Paul Federation of Teachers; Take Action Minnesota; Stonewall DFL; and OutFront Minnesota. I am running to unite who our Ward has been and who our Ward is becoming to organize a coalition for positive change throughout our Ward and our City. Together, I believe we can achieve progress that brings all of us along. View more endorsements >

I would be glad for the opportunity to hear what you think are the most important issues facing the neighborhoods we love. It would be my greatest honor to earn your 1st choice vote on August 14, 2018 and represent all of us here in Ward 4.


Mitra Jalali Nelson