St. Paul Makes History with First All-Female City Council Swearing-In Ceremony

Written by Jeppe W

Jan.10 - 2024 1:40 PM CET


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St. Paul marked a momentous occasion in its history on Tuesday as the city's first-ever all-female city council was officially sworn in.

This groundbreaking event not only highlights the council's all-female composition but also its notable diversity, with all members being under 40 and six of them being women of color.

The historic council was elected in November through ranked-choice voting, with St. Paul voters choosing from 30 candidates. The election saw the selection of three incumbent council members, Rebecca Noecker, Mitra Jalali, and Nelsie Yang, along with four newcomers, Cheniqua Johnson, Anika Bowie, Saura Jost, and Hwa Jeong Kim.

Noecker, embarking on her third term, expressed optimism about the council's potential, emphasizing the strides made by the community in electing such a diverse group. She highlighted the readiness of the community for this change and the promising future ahead.

Ward Seven’s newly elected council member, Cheniqua Johnson, emphasized her commitment to focusing on public safety and affordable housing. She expressed the unique perspective brought by an all-woman council, saying, "It’s about our kids."

The other newly elected council members, Anika Bowie, Saura Jost, and Hwa Jeong Kim, join the council with enthusiasm and a readiness to address key issues. Johnson shared her excitement about the journey from watching ballot reallocations to now having an office with her name on it.

Johnson believes that the voters elected this historic group for a reason, highlighting the need to address significant issues like housing and economic development.

With all seven members sworn in on Tuesday, the council marks the beginning of a new chapter in St. Paul's governance. Noecker, the longest-serving member, spoke of the expectations on the council, not just for representation but for tangible 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," Noecker said. She emphasized the council’s readiness to face the challenges ahead and meet the high expectations set for them.

The council members also addressed skeptics, inviting critics to engage in conversation and give them the opportunity to demonstrate their effectiveness in their new roles.

This historic inauguration in St. Paul is a significant step towards more diverse and inclusive representation in local government. It serves as an inspiration for other cities and communities striving for similar milestones in governance and leadership.

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