Shakopee resident Sahra Odowa will run for the District 55 seat against GOP incumbent Sen. Eric Pratt in the upcoming election.
Odowa, a Democrat, is the only candidate to announce a campaign against Pratt so far. As a first-generation American who works in mental and public health, she is running on a platform to increase affordable health care and housing, improve transit and transportation systems across the state, increase education funding, reduce drug costs and increase access to health care.
Odowa was born in New York City and lived in Atlanta and Maine before coming to Shakopee five years ago.
With a bachelor’s degree in natural and applied science and a master’s degree in public health, Odowa spoke passionately about increasing access to affordable health care for all residents.
“There are not a lot of mental health services provided, specifically in our district,” Odowa said. “Not a lot of people are able to navigate the health care system. I want to advocate for those who can’t advocate for themselves. Being a first generation American, I want to unite all the residents.”
Odowa is currently a member of the Scott County Local Advisory Council for Mental Health and is a member of the Shakopee Girls Basketball Association. She also served on the Shakopee Diversity Alliance from 2017-2018.
Odowa said that while she feels Shakopee is a very safe place to live, she has been targeted for her race, and she knows others in the community have as well.
“With the current administration, we’ve had so many people targeted,” Odowa said. “So during this heated time I feel like I’d represent people who have immigrated to this country… We need someone who will vow to work with all the communities.”
Pratt, R-Prior Lake, said he hopes to work this year to return a portion of Minnesota's $1 billion budget surplus to small businesses and seniors.
Pratt, a bank risk manager, chairs the Senate's Jobs and Economic Growth Finance and Policy Committee and is a member of several others, including committees that work on bills that deal with taxes and energy.
Pratt's stated priorities for the 2019-2020 session include addressing the cost of special education and improve workforce training.
He has joined recent pushes to create an emergency insulin program for uninsured people, to require identification to vote, to approve bonds for improvement projects on Highway 169 and elsewhere in Scott County and to end the moratorium on new nuclear power in the state.
If re-elected, Pratt would be serving his third term as District 55 Senator. He previously served on the Prior Lake-Savage Area School Board.
Pratt did not respond to requests for comment on Odowa’s campaign.