DFL state Reps. Karen Clark and Susan Allen, who both represent Minneapolis districts, jointly announced Dec. 8 that they will not seek re-election in 2018.
Clark (District 62A), who was first elected in 1980 and is serving her 19th term, is retiring. Only two current Minnesota state legislators have been at the Capitol longer, and Clark is also the longest-serving openly lesbian state legislator in the country. Her district includes the Stevens Square and Whittier neighborhoods.
Allen (District 62B) represents an adjacent area of Minneapolis that includes the Kingfield and Lyndale neighborhoods. Sent to the Capitol in a 2012 special election, Allen won re-election three times. She was the first Native American woman elected to the Minnesota Legislature and the first openly lesbian Native American woman to serve in any state legislature.
Both Clark and Allen intend to remain in office through the end of their current terms in January 2019.
Clark was chief author of the legislation that legalized same-sex marriage in Minnesota. It was signed into law by Gov. Mark Dayton in 2013. Two decades earlier, she worked with former Sen. Allan Spear to pass an amendment to the Minnesota Human Rights Act banning LGBT discrimination.
In a statement released by her office, Clark said she had “mixed feelings about leaving” but was looking forward to spending more time with her family. She’ll continue to work with the Women’s Environmental Institute, an environmental and agricultural justice organization she co-founded with her longtime partner, Jacquelyn.
Allen, an attorney and member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe (also known as the Sicangu Oyate Lakota), is a founding member of the People of Color and Indigenous Caucus at the Capitol.
“Bringing the many diverse voices of South Minneapolis to the Legislature has been a great privilege,” she said in a statement. “Even in the times when we faced great adversity, I have been eager to serve my community every day, to be a voice for those left out of the political system, and (to) stand up and keep fighting for greater equity and social justice for all Minnesota families.”
At least one candidate has announced plans to run for Allen’s seat. Aisha Gomez, who serves as senior policy aide in City Council Member Alondra Cano’s Ward 9 office, announced her candidacy Dec. 8.