Sen. Bobby Joe Champion of North Minneapolis was on Thursday named as the new Senate president, becoming the first Black person to do so. The Senate president presides over Senate business and ensures members follow parliamentary procedures.
The move came two days after the state elected Black women for the first time to the state Senate and Democrats won back the upper chamber by a one seat majority.
During a media briefing Thursday to announce their new leadership, Sen. Kari Dziedzic, also of Minneapolis, announced she was elected as Senate Majority Leader while Sen. Ann Rest of New Hope will chair the Senate Tax Committee and Sen. John Marty of Roseville becoming the Finance Chair.
“I think one of our biggest things is ensuring that we’re talking to Minnesotans about what their needs are, so we can go to those events and we testify in committee or the floor we can say, ‘Here’s what Minnesotans are telling us’,” Champion said.
Champion has served in the Minnesota Senate Since 2012 after having served two terms in the House after he was first elected in 2008.
He is a practicing attorney and has previously served as an assistant attorney general under two Minnesota attorney generals.
“Even though I have the skills and qualifications, it was not lost on me that the Minnesota Senate has never had a president who was a person of color,” Sen. Champion said.