Reader's View: Don’t tell woman of color to wait her turn

Yet the editorial dismissed this experience with a patronizing pat on the head and an admonition not to “jump … to the statehouse, without the benefit of lower-office elected experience.”

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I read the News Tribune’s endorsement editorial for the DFL primary in Minnesota House District 8B, which listed candidate Alicia Kozlowski’s “impressive” qualifications: a combination of lived and professional experience that gives her the relationships and unique insights to represent Duluth.

Yet the editorial dismissed this experience with a patronizing pat on the head and an admonition not to “jump … to the statehouse, without the benefit of lower-office elected experience” ( Our View/Endorsement: “Forsman has the horsepower, ” July 21).

Never mind the editorial cited the departures of two senior legislators to support its endorsement, Sen. Tom Bakk and Rep. Jen Schultz, both of whom had the audacity to run originally for the Minnesota House without lower-office experience. Duluth’s current state legislators, Sen. Jen McEwen and Rep. Liz Olson, also both ran without previous elected experience.

Gov. Tim Walz didn’t have elected experience before running for Congress. I gave feedback on his first stump speech; although bereft of the polished political-speak and self-promotion of an experienced politician, I think it turned out OK for him.

U.S. Sen. Tina Smith leapfrogged over the News Tribune’s bar of “lower-office elected experience” to be elected Minnesota lieutenant governor before her appointment to the Senate, as did her predecessors Sens. Paul Wellstone, Al Franken, and Dave Durenberger. Gov. Mark Dayton had no lower-office experience before being elected state auditor. They all managed OK.


I could go on: Tony Sertich, David Tomassoni, Carly Melin, and Julie Sandstede all ran for and won statewide posts without lower elected experience.

There’s one difference with Kozlowski: She’s a Latina-Objibwe woman, the first such leading candidate to represent Duluth.

The newspaper can endorse whomever, but in 2022, we need to seriously look at what’s considered legitimate experience. Telling a highly qualified woman of color to essentially wait her turn sounded painfully outdated. We should expect better.

Erik Peterson


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