My name is Mitra Jalali Nelson: I’m a lifelong Minnesotan, the proud daughter of immigrants, and have devoted my life to fighting for all families to have the same opportunities as mine. I’m running to represent all of us here in Ward 4 on the Saint Paul City Council. I would be honored to earn your 1st choice vote in the Ward 4 special election on August 14, 2018.

My career began in Louisiana in 2008, when I was a high school social studies teacher at an alternative high school on the West Bank of New Orleans as part of Teach For America, just three years after Hurricane Katrina. This experience fostered in me an unshakable belief in the potential of all children, and in the importance of giving every child access to an outstanding public education. I was at the very beginning of my journey, but in that classroom, I started on the path to becoming the leader I am today.

I returned to my home state of Minnesota with a strengthened commitment to public service, including teaching for a third year here. I became an organizer with the Saint Paul Federation of Teachers in the 2012 election cycle, working with Ward 4 neighbors and teachers citywide to pass the Saint Paul Public Schools funding levy—a $39 million annual investment in our teachers and students. The lesson I learned from that experience is that good ideas don’t just happen on their own; you have to organize them into reality. I’m bringing this spirited ethic with me to City Hall, through a resident-driven campaign that bridges the gap between residents and government.

I’m running because I believe that the future of our city is connected to the future of our Ward. Roughly 50% of our city are renters and growing, yet there are no renters on the City Council; people of color are now nearly half of our community and growing, yet representation for communities of color lags. Most concerningly, another 40% of our city lives in poverty. At this critical moment in our city’s history, we need proven leaders who fully reflect our growth, diversity and shared commitment to equity.

I am running to bridge the gap between residents and government, and to be a leader for citywide progress that brings each of us along.