David Chanen, StarTribune, January 7, 2019
More than 166 years of history dating back to Hennepin County’s earliest days were blown out of the water on Monday as Angela Conley and Irene Fernando became the county’s first commissioners of color.
A short time later, County Attorney Mike Freeman and brand-new Sheriff Dave Hutchinson took the oath of office. Freeman gave Hutchinson a bear hug before swearing him in; in a surprising upset, Hutchinson defeated 12-year incumbent Rich Stanek by less than 2,300 votes.
[Conley] was sworn in by retired Hennepin County District Judge Pamela Alexander, who became the county’s first black judge when she took the oath in the same room 35 years ago. Conley, who also is black, was sworn in with her hand on the book “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.”
“We fought hard and did it with joy,” she said. “This seat belongs to the people who look like me and have traditionally been shut out of this room.”
Incumbent Commissioner Marion Greene, who also was sworn in Monday, said she was energized sharing the oath ceremony with the first two commissioners of color.
“This is a historic moment and an inspiration to us all,” she said.