Don Samuels gains support in primary bid against Rep. Ilhan Omar
MINNEAPOLIS, June 27, 2022 — Don Samuels today announced he has won the endorsements of 13 current and former Minneapolis city leaders in his bid to unseat Rep. Ilhan Omar in Minnesota’s Fifth Congressional District.
“Don Samuels and I served on the Minneapolis City Council for 10 years together,” said Barb Johnson, former council president, in her endorsement. “Each of us represented half of the city’s Northside. Don was a tireless advocate for the residents of our corner of the city, bringing much-needed attention to the issues that affect our community: violence, youth programming, the education gap, and police-community relations. In addition to all that, he was a wonderful person to work alongside. I am so proud to support Don’s candidacy for the 5th Congressional District this August.”
Johnson is joined in her endorsement by fellow former Minneapolis City Council Presidents Jackie Cherryhomes and Dan Cohen in addition to former City Council Members Kevin Reich, Lee Munnich, Gary Schiff, Meg Tuthill, Lisa McDonald, Tony Scallon, and Kathleen O’Brien—who is also a former Minneapolis City Coordinator.
“I am proud and pleased to support Don Samuels for Congress. He has been an outstanding member of our community, both as a private citizen and a member of the Minneapolis City Council,” said Cohen. “Don is also a nationally recognized advocate for public safety and has earned the respect and admiration of leaders across the political spectrum.”
Joining counterparts from the City Council are Minneapolis Park Board Commissioner Meg Forney and Josh Pauly, who formerly served on the Minneapolis Public Schools Board.
“I am proud to support Don Samuels for Congress this year,” said Pauly. “Don Samuels believes that every child should have access to a high-quality education no matter their background or economic circumstances. His passion for closing the achievement gap drove his work on the Minneapolis School Board. Don’s leadership on this issue in Washington will benefit children everywhere.”
In addition to elected officials, Samuels has made considerable in-roads building support among local business leaders and community advocates. Tom Hoch, founder of the Hennepin Theater Trust and a 2017 Minneapolis mayoral candidate, has given his backing to Samuels as well, saying “Don Samuels has proven time and again that he is an effective, creative and compassionate leader. No person has served our community so effectively in so many ways as Don. His history of digging in and doing the hard work to create positive change is precisely the representation we need in Congress. Don will be an excellent member of Congress and I encourage you to join me in voting for Don in the primary on August 9th.”
Public safety advocate Kay G Wilson, whose granddaughter Aniya Allen was killed by a stray bullet last year in North Minneapolis, joins the growing list of the grassroots support building around Samuels’ campaign.
“I endorse Don Samuels for Congress because I know that he will dedicate himself to the position he’s running for,” said Wilson. “I spent years side-by-side with him in North Minneapolis as ‘boots on the ground’ in the fight for peace and against community violence. Those streets were deadly, dangerous, and heartless, and our work saved lives. And there is more work to do at home in North Minneapolis and in Washington. Don is a good man; and he is the right person for this job at this moment.”
Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Samuels is the third of 10 children to a Pentacostal pastor and seamstress. In 1970, Samuels immigrated to the United States to pursue an education at New York’s Pratt Institute and later began a career designing toys for the industry’s top companies.
After moving to Minnesota, Samuels met and married his wife, Sondra Hollinger-Samuels, and together they moved to the Jordan neighborhood in North Minneapolis, where they continued a lifelong commitment to always live in the most challenged part of their city.
After a bullet went through their soon to be born daughter’s bedroom window, the Samuelses began organizing their neighbors. Together, they advocated for policy changes and additional resources to improve community safety. Eventually, Samuels ran for office himself, serving three terms on the Minneapolis City Council and one on the Minneapolis Public Schools Board.
Samuels continues to be an advocate for public safety, including his recent victory in a lawsuit argued before the Minnesota Supreme Court requiring the city of Minneapolis to fulfill its charter-required number of police officers.