ABOUT LEILI & WHY SHE'S RUNNING
My name is Leili (pronounced Lay-lee), and I'm running to represent Minnesota's House District 63B.
I was born in Tehran, Iran and moved to the United States when I was five. My father is an architect and my mother was an artist. I grew up in Ridgewood, NJ, went to college at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, and then worked for a few years in Washington, DC. Ten years ago, I moved to Minneapolis to go to law school. It didn't take me long to realize that I was always meant to be a Minnesotan. I met my husband Peter the first week of law school. He's a native of St. Cloud and works for the City of Minneapolis. We have a four-year-old daughter named Faye (Fifi for short) and a cat named Lemiex (Momo for short). We live in the Northrop neighborhood of Southeast Minneapolis.
I own a public policy and affairs practice named Apparatus with my business partner Laura and an ancillary environmental law firm named Advocate. I currently represent the Sierra Club as their attorney in the legal fight against the expansion of Enbridge's Line 3 oil pipeline through Minnesota, and I represent Friends of the Mississippi River at the MN Capitol, where we've spent the last couple of years fighting back against unprecedented attacks against our state's environmental protections. If you want a better sense of what it is I do at the Capitol, you should check out some of these videos.
In recent years, a significant focus of my work has also been transportation policy and the importance of a strong multi-modal system to health, housing, education, employment, environmental sustainability, and many dimensions of social justice. As part of this work, I co-created and hosted a podcast series called Here to There that looked deeply at the human dimensions of transportation policy in Minnesota.
In addition to my professional work, I currently serve on the City of Minneapolis' Capital Long-Range Improvement Committee (appointed by Mayor Betsy Hodges) and the Metropolitan Airports Commission (appointed by Mayor Jacob Frey). I also serve on the boards of the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy and Transit for Livable Communities-St. Paul Smart Trips. I have been the legislative chair of the DFL Environmental Caucus since its founding and am a past chair of the DFL Progressive Caucus.
I love Minnesota, and I am deeply effected and concerned by the persistent inequities faced by Minnesotans of color in terms health, wealth, education, transportation, economic opportunity, access to services, and virtually all the critical determinants of individuals' and communities' ability to thrive. I am equally concerned that for every step we take forward at the local level--raising the minimum wage to $15, working to increase affordable housing, empowering our school boards--we are being forced at the state Capitol to take two steps back through rollbacks, defunding, and preemption.
I'm also disturbed and incensed by the political gamesmanship that has overtaken our legislative process. Omnibus bills that are hundreds of pages long covering dozens of subjects negotiated in the last hours of session behind closed doors by a handful of Republican legislators, passed out of committees in the middle of the night, and given to legislators minutes if not seconds before a final vote to pass. No transparency, no accountability, no democracy. e
These circumstances and conditions at the state legislature demand resistance during the very best of political times. That resistance rises to the level of a moral imperative in these times of Trump promoting legalized bigotry against refugees, immigrants, women, Muslims, African-Americans, transgender people, people with disabilities, and the free press while Congress quietly attacks the poor, working, and middle class and unravels every social and environmental protection enacted in the last 100 years.
The progressive people at the grassroots, and even at the grasstops, are rising to the occasion, turning ideology into political action, working strategically and collaboratively to build support for advancing policies that are in line with progressive values, and holding elected officials accountable when they act against the interest of the public. We need more leaders at the state Capitol who will also rise to the occasion.
I am running for the MN House because we have reached a critical political juncture in our state (as well as locally and nationally) that requires a new generation of progressive leadership with the will to advance ideology into actions and results. A clean environment, a strong public school system, a fair economy, and a just and inclusive community should be more than just values—they should be concrete results we demand and work to achieve through durable, transformative policies. I am that action-oriented progressive leader and, with your support, I will work to deliver results that improve the lives of all Minnesotans.