Longtime East Side state Rep. Sheldon Johnson announces retirement

Sheldon Johnson

Jay Xiong

East Side community activist announces run for seat


State Rep. Sheldon Johnson, the DFLer who represents the East Side neighborhoods of Dayton’s Bluff, Mounds Park, Eastview, Conway, Battle Creek and Highwood Hills in House District 67B, has announced he’s stepping aside at the end of next year.

“It’s with a heavy heart that I announce I will not be seeking reelection to the legislature in 2018,” Johnson said in a Nov. 16 statement. “It’s been a pleasure for me to represent such an amazing community. I cannot express how grateful I am for the trust they’ve placed in me to be their voice as we’ve fought for values we share.”

Johnson is currently serving his ninth term in the Minnesota House of Representatives. He lives in Highwood Hills.

“Part of making the decision to retire now has a lot to do with the fact that I’m about to become a grandparent,” said Johnson who has two adult daughters, Renee and Eva. “I want to be able to spend time with my family in retirement and to do so while I’m still young enough to enjoy it.”

Beyond his service in the Legislature, Johnson also worked as a community corrections worker and case worker at the Ramsey County Workhouse for 34 years.

Following Johnson’s announcement, Jay Xiong, a community organizer and former legislative staffer, announced on Nov. 19 that he will be running for the District 67B seat in next year’s election.

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 also 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. 

“As a Hmong American kid growing up in St. Paul, it was awesome witnessing Sen. Mee Moua’s historic election to the Minnesota State Senate. As a friend and mentor, she has inspired and supported me to pursue a life in public service,” Xiong said.

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

“I have worked with Jay as an advisor to my campaign and I have also sought his ideas and input on city issues affecting the East Side community,” Prince said. “He has demonstrated the kind of energetic and thoughtful leadership we need at the Legislature.”


– 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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