Busy House District 67B race taking shape


Long-time incumbent retiring after nearly two decades


Though Election Day is more than 10 months away, candidates for the Minnesota House District 67B seat are hitting the ground hard with the start of the new year and residents are already wondering about their voting options in November.

Following the announcement of DFL Rep. Sheldon Johnson’s retirement late last year, four people have announced their candidacy for the Minnesota House 67B seat, which Johnson held for almost 20 years.

Candidates that have announced their run so far include John Slade, a community organizer; Grant Stevensen, a Lutheran pastor; Jay Xiong, a former legislative aid; and Shoua Yang, a political science professor. The four are all vying for the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party nomination.


John Slade

Slade has lived on the East Side for 20 years, 18 of those in Dayton’s Bluff and two in the Eastview neighborhood. He works for the Metropolitan Interfaith Council on Affordable Housing and is also a grant writer. 

He is originally from Winona and went to Macalester College for his bachelor’s degree in psychology and anthropology and then received a master’s degree in linguistics from the University of Minnesota. 

He has worked with both the Dayton’s Bluff Community Council and the District 1 Community Council and has a show on East Side radio station WEQY called “The East Side with John Slade.” He also led the local Bernie Sanders campaign during the 2016 presidential election. Slade said he decided to become more politically involved after the passing of his father.

Slade said he is “committed to an East Side free of prejudice, with economic opportunity for all.” 


Grant Stevensen

Stevensen has lived on the East Side for about 14 years in the Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood and is originally from Stillwater. He’s worked for ISAIAH the past three years as a staff member and another 15 years prior in various other capacities at the organization. ISAIAH is an interfaith council that works on issues related to racial and economic equity. He’s currently on a leave of absence from ISAIAH to focus on his legislative campaign. 

He attended Bethel University where he received a bachelor’s degree in psychology and philosophy and graduated from Luther College with a master’s degree in divinity. 

He said the three most important issues for him are the distribution of local government aid and how it can help spread opportunity and wealth across the state, universal health care and creating a process where every piece of legislation is examined for its racial equity. 

“We’re at a real decision point in Minnesota and the country too ... about whether or not we are going to be neighbors to one another and be a community,” Stevensen said.

He’s been involved in earned safe and sick leave time campaigns in both St. Paul and Minneapolis, lobbied at at the state capitol, been involved with the passage of the homeowners bill of rights and was involved in the 2012 campaign against the state marriage amendment limiting marriage to a man and woman.


Jay Xiong

Xiong lives in the Battle Creek neighborhood with his parents and three younger siblings. He attended St. Paul Public Schools and graduated from St. Olaf College in 2009 with a liberal arts degree.

He co-founded two youth organizations, the Asian American Organizing Project and Progressive Hmong American Organizers, which work to involve youth and immigrant communities in voter engagement and elections.

In a statement announcing his candidacy, Xiong said he will continue to champion policies Johnson worked on for many years, such as resident safety, security, education equity, economic opportunities, and social and racial justice. 

Johnson, along with St. Paul City Council member Jane Prince, are serving as Xiong’s campaign co-chairs.


Shoua Yang

Yang went to school at Harding High School where he was president of the Hmong-American Student Organization. He currently teaches political science at St. Cloud State University. He previously taught political science at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point but moved back to the East Side in 2008 to be closer to his family. 

He has a bachelor’s degree in political science from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota and a dual master’s degree in political science and international studies from Ohio University. He also has a master’s degree in public administration from Cleveland State University and a doctorate in political science from Northern Illinois University.

Yang said issues important to him include better schools, affordable health care, safe streets and neighborhoods, small business development and affordable housing.

“I am committed to give back to the community that has made me who I am today,” Yang said. 

The primaries are Aug. 14 and Election Day is Nov. 6.


– Marjorie Otto can be reached at 651-748-7816 or at eastside@lillienews.com. Follow her on Twitter at @EastSideM_Otto.

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