Mitra Jalali

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mitra Jalali (born 1986) is the City Council President and the Council Member for Ward 4 in Saint Paul, Minnesota.[1][2] She became the first Iranian-American elected official in Minnesota when she was elected to the Saint Paul City Council in 2018.[3]

Early life and career[edit]

Jalali was born to immigrant parents in Minnesota. Her father, Hossein Jalali, came to the U.S. from Iran as a high school exchange student in Rochester, Minnesota, in 1978, when he was 16 years old.[3] Her mother was adopted from South Korea by a family in Owatonna, Minnesota.[4] Her parents met in college.[4]

Jalali's father organizes the annual Twin Cities Iranian Culture Festival.[3]

After college, Jalali started her professional career as a teacher in New Orleans.[5] After teaching, she worked as a community organizer and as staff to then U.S. Representative Keith Ellison.[1]

Elected office[edit]

Jalali became the first Iranian American to hold elected office in Minnesota in 2018 when she was elected to represent Ward 4 on the Saint Paul City Council in a special election after the previous representative resigned to accept a job in the mayor's office.[3] She was the second woman of color to hold elected office in Saint Paul.[6] She was also the first Asian American woman to serve on the council and the first to openly identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community.[7] At the time she was first elected, she was the youngest council member and the only renter among the members.[8] She was reelected to full four-year terms in 2019 and in 2023.[8][6] After being sworn in on January 9, 2024, the council elected Jalali city council president at its first meeting on January 10.[2] She identified the council's top three priorities as housing, sustainability and climate action, and community safety.[2]

City Council President[edit]

Controversy over ceasefire resolution[edit]

On February 28, 2024, council member Nelsie Yang attempted to introduce a resolution calling for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict. Before Yang could do so, Jalali adjourned the meeting after approximately 50 minutes for unspecified reasons and asked Yang to connect with her later. After the adjournment, there were protests and dissatisfaction among the attendees, including pro-Palestinian demonstrators. Yang expressed frustration with the abrupt adjournment, calling it "undemocratic". She also voiced disappointment in her colleagues' unwillingness to support the resolution their despite personal agreement with it. The incident prompted discussions about democracy, public leadership, and the role of elected officials in addressing global issues at the local level.[9][10]


  1. ^ a b "Ward 4 - Councilmember Mitra Jalali | Saint Paul Minnesota". Retrieved 2024-01-10.
  2. ^ a b c "New St. Paul City Council President Mitra Jalali shares goals for historic council". MPR News. 2024-01-10. Retrieved 2024-01-10.
  3. ^ a b c d Ansari, Hibah (2022-12-23). "Iranian Minnesotans call attention to political uprisings in Iran". Sahan Journal. Retrieved 2024-01-10.
  4. ^ a b "For many Iranian-American families, this moment has us sick and terrified". The Guardian. 2020-01-03. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2024-01-10.
  5. ^ Nordstrom, Tracy (2021-07-29). "Mitra Jalali - Pink to the People!". Verve. Retrieved 2024-01-10.
  6. ^ a b "The Unprecedented Saint Paul City Council Takes Office". Minnesota Women's Press. 2024-01-08. Retrieved 2024-01-10.
  7. ^ Galioto, Katie; Boone, Anna; Steinberg, Jake (January 8, 2024). "St. Paul will swear in its first all-female City Council on Tuesday. How did we get here?". Star Tribune. Retrieved 2024-01-10.
  8. ^ a b Prather, Shannon Prather. "Mitra Jalali pushes St. Paul City Council to the left". Star Tribune. Retrieved 2024-01-10.
  9. ^ "City Council on 2024-02-28 3:30 PM". Retrieved 2024-03-03.
  10. ^ "St. Paul City Council adjourns before cease-fire resolution could be introduced". MPR News. 2024-02-28. Retrieved 2024-03-03.

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