A Nigerian, Ms. Esther Agbaje, has been elected into the Minnesota House of Representatives in Tuesday’s U.S. general elections. She will represent District 59B in the 134-member House on the platform of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL), an affiliate of the U.S. Democratic Party.
Esther, 35, won by a landslide, polling 17,396 votes or 74.7 percent of the total ballots cast. Her closest rival, Alan Shilepsky of the Republican Party, secured 4,128 votes, representing 17.7 percent of the total. Elections to the lower chamber of the state legislature hold every two years, and there are no term limits for the lawmakers.
The daughter of Nigerian immigrants, Agbaje was born in St. Paul, the state capital of Minnesota. Her father, Rev. John, an Episcopal Church priest, met her mother, Bunmi, a librarian, at the University of Minnesota where they were studying. She graduated from George Washington University, Washington, D.C., with a degree in political science. Esther holds a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Pennsylvania, and also a law degree from Harvard University.
She currently works as an attorney in Minneapolis with a focus on general civil litigation and medical malpractice. She once served at the U.S. Department of State as a Foreign Affairs Officer, charged with managing the rule of law projects in the Middle East. Her priorities as a lawmaker include affordable housing, environmental justice, police reform, public safety, and racial equality.