White MN Politician Accused of Racism For Running Against a Latina Councilwoman

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By Lukas Mikelionis | 10:49 pm, February 20, 2017

A local politician in Minneapolis who happens to be white has been accused of racism for running against a Latina City Councilwoman.

Gary Schiff is seeking to return to his old city council seat which he abandoned when he ran for mayor in 2013. He’s trying to unseat City Councilwoman Alondra Cano, the only sitting Latino member in the city’s history, in Minneapolis’ troubled 9th Ward.

Alondra Cano

Susan Raffo, an area resident and well-known community leader who’s known both Schiff and Cano for many years, has penned an open letter on Facebook accusing Schiff of racism for trying to unseat a Latina woman.

She begins the letter claiming this is “a love letter” and “a letter of hope” to “tell the truth about disappointment,” adding “I have known Councilmember Cano for six years. And I have known you, Gary, for about 23 years. Since you were, I think, 19 or maybe 20.”

Raffo then wrote: “You are a white man running for elected office at a moment of intense division in this country, particularly around race and white supremacy.

“You are choosing to put yourself forward against a Latina, an immigrant. You will be looking for ways to counter Councilmember Cano’s work, while at the same time attempt to shield your actions from anything that might obviously refer to your racial differences.”

“It doesn’t matter what you do or don’t do to try and get around this. As a white man choosing to run at this moment, you have agreed to participate in this moment of deep racial pain and divide,” she added.

The community leader also attacked the politician for believing he has a better idea of “what needs to be done” in the city, rather than supporting the Councilwoman.

“I don’t understand why someone with your experience and relationships doesn’t immediately say to Council Member Cano, ‘it matters deeply to me that you are successful in your role on the city council. We all need you to be successful. Tell me how I can help, tell me what you need from me, tell me how I can support your leadership.’ Instead, you think you have a better idea for what needs to be done.”

Raffo does not appear to be criticizing the third candidate in the race, who is black. Mohamed Farah, the executive director of the Somali nonprofit Ka Joog, is also running for the seat. Farah is expected to get the support of the district’s large Somali population.