MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — DFLers in the Minnesota Senate elected a new minority leader Monday after Sen. Susan Kent announced earlier this month she was stepping down.

State Sen. Melisa López Franzen, who represents Edina, will serve as the next caucus leader.

“It is truly an honor to be elected by my colleagues to serve as the next Senate DFL Caucus Leader,” she said in a statement. “Our caucus represents the values that Minnesotans across the state share, and I am looking forward to continuing the important work we have yet to do on behalf of our state.”

Melisa Franzen (credit: melisafranzen.com)

López Franzen, who was born and raised in Puerto Rico, was first elected in 2012. The DFL said she is the first member of the People of Color and Indigenous caucus to be elected Senate minority leader.

Kent, who represents Woodbury and has served in the Senate for 10 years, has said she will not seek re-election in 2022. She said COVID-19 has impacted her family life, and that it’s “time to make changes” and “put my family first.”

Sen. Paul Gazelka stepped down as Senate majority leader this month as well, later announcing a gubernatorial run. Senate Republicans elected state Sen. Jeremy Miller of Winona to replace Gazelka.

Miller has served as Senate president since 2019 and was first elected to the state Senate in 2010.