A pair of groundbreaking Minnesota House members announced Friday they will not seek re-election in 2018.
Rep. Karen Clark (DFL-Mpls) and Rep. Susan Allen (DFL-Mpls) announced their retirements during a joint morning news conference, becoming the third and fourth House members to announce they would not seek another term in next year’s elections.
Clark, currently the third-longest serving member in the House, was first elected in 1980. The first openly gay member to run for and win a seat in the Minnesota Legislature, she was the sponsor of landmark pieces of legislation that included the marriage equality bill signed into law in 2013.
“It’s been a joy to represent this broad, diverse community,” Clark said. “So, it’s with some joy, but also sadness, that I tell you I am retiring from the House of Representatives at the end of my term.”
Allen, in her fourth term representing parts of five Minneapolis neighborhoods, was a trailblazer in the House, as well. She was the first openly lesbian Native American woman elected to any state legislature, and the first female Native American elected to the Minnesota Legislature.
“It was never my intent to serve in the Legislature forever, but rather to answer a call to public service at a time when racial minorities were severely underrepresented in the Legislature,” she said in a statement. “Since that time an increasing number of candidates from minority backgrounds have stepped up to run for public office at all levels of government.”
Other House members who have announced they are not running for re-election are Rep. Sheldon Johnson (DFL-St. Paul) and Rep. Abigail Whelan (R-Ramsey). A special election will be held in February to fill a seat vacated by former Rep. Tony Cornish (R-Vernon Center), who resigned from the House Dec. 1 following allegations of sexual harassment.
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