Hopkins City Councilwoman Cheryl Youakim announced Thursday that she’ll be seeking the DFL endorsement for House District 46B, which covers Hopkins and St. Louis Park.
“My parents taught me that great communities don’t just happen, they are built by the people who live in them. I have been lucky to have the chance to give back to the community that I love,” a release quoted Youakim. “I would like to continue to serve our community as a State Representative for Hopkins and St. Louis Park”.
Youakim is aiming to replace existing District 46B legislator, Rep. Steve Simon. Simon, who’s also a Hopkins resident, announced his candidacy for secretary of state in August. He’ll vacate the seat if he receives the DFL endorsement for the race.
Youakim has been on the Hopkins City Council for eight years. She was most recently re-elected in November, when she came in first among the five candidates running.
For the past two years, she’s also represented Hopkins on the Southwest Light Rail Transit Corridor Management Committee. Supporting light rail will continue to be a priority if she’s elected as representative.
But Youakim plans to focus heavily on education. She got her start in politics as an advocate for early childhood funding and as a member of the Hopkins Legislative Action Coalition. In addition, she used a Ready 4K grant to co-found a small non-profit advocacy group called Start Learning Early, which brought together west metro resident to advocate for funding quality early childhood programs.
“As our economy bounces back, there will be tough decisions and strategic investments to be made,” the release quoted Youakim. “I know that we need to have a balanced approach in educating our children. We need to continue our investment in early childhood to find stable funding for our K-12 system and to make sure higher education is affordable for the next generation.”
She also said she’ll support local businesses and try to raise the minimum wage “so that a 40-hour work week puts a roof over one’s head and food on the table.
“We need to make sure government is working for ordinary people like us, that is why I am running,” the news release quoted her.
In her day job, Youakim is a committee administrator for the Senate Judiciary Committee. For six years before that, she was legislative assistant to District 46 Sen. Ron Latz. She has also been a special ed paraprofessional in the Hopkins School District, an early childhood teaching assistant and as a volunteer coordinator.
In addition to her City Council experience, she’s also worked on state house and senate campaigns and served on the Senate District 44 central committee, as the committee was called when Hopkins was in District 44.
Her campaign is being run by Steve Kelley—who’s a senior fellow at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, a former state senator and representative and a former candidate for governor and attorney general.
Youakim has lived in Hopkins for the past 16 years with her husband, Jacques Youakim, a Hopkins High School math teacher, and their three children.
“I would like to take my balanced approach and proven leadership skills to the Capitol,” the news release quoted Youakim. “My experience as a city council member, as well as a community leader and advocate, makes me the right choice to fill Rep. Simon’s seat if he is endorsed for Secretary of State.”