CHENIQUA JOHNSON

Worthington Minnesota Native

Born and raised in Worthington, Minnesota, I grew up to have a strong appreciation for public service,  community leaders, and relationships. My father was retired after working in the pork and beef producing industry for 33 years, and my mother was a nurse. As a child, I watched my father advocate for civil rights, livable wages, and equitable pay. In addition, I watched my mother spend her life caring for rural families and our community residents. Their work has instilled in me a passion for public service.

My family had many changing dynamics that helped develop my personal independence and life experience. In 2003, my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, and I had to take an active role in his care. With the loss of his income, I also had to help my mother balance our finances, manage our household, and care for my  brother who is mentally disabled. I learned to be resilient, and I became determined to use my experiences to be a voice for struggling families in SW Minnesota.

After graduating from Worthington Senior High School in 2013, I became the first person in my family to attend college, and I graduated  from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities with a bachelor’s degree in Family Social Science.

I am excited to return to Southwest Minnesota to serve the people of District 22B.

Public Service

I am a dedicated public servant. I currently serve as the Staff Assistant Intern Coordinator for Congressman Keith Ellison, where I oversee Keith’s District internship program, Congressional Student Advisory Council, and Education and Youth Outreach. I am also a fellow in the Twin Cities African American Leadership Forum’s Dr. Josie R. Johnson Academy and New Sector RISE. 

I have also held positions in municipal, state and federal government. In 2015, I served as a Congressional Intern and temporary Staff Assistant to Senator Al Franken (DFL-MN). In 2016, I served as a Capitol Pathways Intern advocating for progressive education policy through the Citizens League’s Capitol Pathways Program.  Following the completion of the program, I served as the Field Organizer for Minneapolis in the Minnesota DFL Coordinated Campaign to turn out voters in the Minneapolis area during the 2016 presidential election. In 2017, I was the only student selected by the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE) to represent the TRIO Programs and attend Marquette University Les Aspin Center for Government in Washington DC. While in DC, I served as a Congressional Intern for Senator Richard J. Durbin (D-IL).

Upon returning to Minnesota in May 2017, I served at the Office of Governor Mark Dayton (DFL-MN) and Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith (DFL-MN) as a Policy Intern. This past election cycle, I served on City Councilman, Jeremiah Ellison’s (DFL-MN) campaign team.

My unique experiences and my passion for rural communities are what have led me to seek to represent District 22B in the Minnesota House this fall.

Community Organizer

I have a great deal of experience as a community organizer. My priority will be expanding the electorate, building the community base, and increasing voter turnout in our area. I have spent the last three years working to bring more people into the political process and keep them civically engaged.  

My time with Congressman Keith Ellison, Governor Mark Dayton, and Senator Richard Durbin has reinforced my belief that every voice matters. I value conversation,  and I will take the time to listen to the people of SW Minnesota. I believe that my interest in developing relationships with my constituents and my passion for finding common ground in greater Minnesota will make me a strong voice for the people of 22B. 

WHY AM I RUNNING NOW?

I am running for State House because I have a passion for developing strong, inclusive, and connected communities. I believe rural Minnesota has been an area of interest for many different people, organizations, initiatives, and investments. 

I have earned the respect and camaraderie of many state and local leaders, and I believe this unique achievement will allow me to be a strong and effective voice for SW Minnesota.

As the youngest DFL endorsed Minnesota woman and the first woman of color to run  in Southwest Minnesota, I believe I have the ability to engage and unite our many generations and diverse populations. I will continue to ensure that my constituents find me to be energetic, enthusiastic, and approachable. Together, we can build a better future for Southwest Minnesota.

Southwest Minnesota is my home. I am excited to use my background and experiences to serve my hometown and surrounding communities.

MY ISSUES:

Education

I believe that every student deserves access to quality education, regardless of their race, gender, socioeconomic status, or geographic location. I will advocate to protect Early Childhood Education, fund Higher Education, and invest in our rural public schools.

I will continue to advocate for teachers to ensure that they receive the training, access to resources, and salaries that they deserve. Additionally, I will work hard to support and protect our state and local teachers’ unions.

I will work tirelessly to ensure that students and teachers in our rural public schools have the same opportunities and resources as those in the most affluent Twin Cities communities.

Most importantly, I will work to close Minnesota’s opportunity gap.

Health care

I believe access to quality, affordable health care is a basic human right. I will work to ensure that rural Minnesotans have access to quality hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies. I will also work to ensure that our elderly community members have access to quality in-home health care and residential facilities.

Additionally, I will push to increase funding for the care of our rural veterans, and I will push for greater funding, research, and facilities for mental health care in rural Minnesota.

Community Development

  • Agriculture: Agriculture continues to be one of state’s major resources. Minnesota’s economy is dependent upon our soybean and corn farmers, fuel, and labor workers.
  • Immigration: Rural Minnesota thrives on the contributions of our immigrant population. As a representative of District 22B, I support our state’s efforts to ensure that families are not separated, children are not left without their parents, and that communities are not divided by the citizenship status of an individual. Additionally, I support driver’s licenses for all Minnesotans regardless of citizenship status.
  • Community Engagement: For us to increase voter turnout, we must be willing to put in the work. I am seeking out resources, communities, and the support of many public servants, union workers, farmers, educators, and working families in order to have our community step forward and invest in building a collective rural Minnesota and progressive Minnesota.