MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The City of Minneapolis is still reacting to this week’s historic elections.

For the first time, Ward 4, which includes part of north Minneapolis, will be represented by a person of color.

Phillipe Cunningham is also the first openly transgender man elected to public office anywhere in the United States.

The 30-year-old beat out incumbent City Council President Barb Johnson, who had that seat for 20 years.

Cunningham said Thursday that while his win was exciting, he’s eager to get to work.

“Me running for office is not in disrespect to [Johnson], it is out of love for our community,” he said.

He says Johnson has offered her full support. Cunningham is the first person of color and transgender person to serve in the seat.

Phillipe Cunningham (credit: CBS)

“When I landed in north Minneapolis, that was the first time that I was welcomed with open arms as a person — just a neighbor rather than a series of differences,” Cunningham said.

As a top policy aide in Mayor Betsy Hodges’ office, Cunningham says he is ready to take on issues around police and community relations, racial equity and affordable housing.

“We are building a mixed-income community that has been shown to not only help desegregate but it lifts everybody up in the community,” he said. “It helps break down that social and economic isolation.”

With a full plate once he enters office, Cunningham is ready to use his platform to help others see the greatness in themselves.

“Just because some people may not know how special you are, doesn’t mean you are not special,” he said.

The new city council will be sworn in in January.

Cunningham is joined by another new city councilor, Andrea Jenkins, who is the first openly transgender black woman to serve in this role in the U.S.


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