By Kristen Miller
Plymouth resident and co-founder of Women’s March Minnesota Alicia Donahue recently announced her DFL candidacy for Minnesota’s Third Congressional District.
Donahue, a 2004 St. Louis Park High School graduate who went on to earn a master’s degree in social work, decided she wanted to be an advocate for more than just her clients.
“I’ve always had a calling to advocate for voices that often go unheard,” Donahue said. Whether it’s young people in the child protection system, or adults with developmental disabilities, Donahue said she works to ensure her clients’ rights are protected.
The last five years, she has worked as an ombudsman, a third party mutual evaluator involving client’s rights, currently working at the Office of Ombudsman for Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities in St. Paul.
After the November election, Donahue became connected with a group of women who suggested there be a march in Minnesota to coincide with the national march on the first day of the new administration.
The Women’s March Minnesota turned out to be more successful than Donahue could’ve imagined, with an estimated 100,000 attendees.
“Minnesota really heard the call to action in numbers too great to ignore, which was our goal,” Donahue said.
Through that experience, Donahue realized a strength she didn’t know she had before – the ability to grass-roots organize, take a vision and help others to become inspired and turn that vision into meaningful action.
“That’s what I plan to do in Congress,” she said.
Donahue was inspired to run for Congress and said she felt it would be a “disservice” to her community if she “didn’t speak out.”
While she was disheartened by the election results, Donahue was also disappointed to find out friends and family chose not to vote at all. To her, “that shows a lack of faith and trust in our democracy,” she said.
One of her goals in running for office is to get out into the district and listen to the constituents.
“When people don’t feel they are being heard, they feel their voices don’t matter,” Donahue said. In her opinion, that translates to “Why would I care what’s happening in D.C. if my representative doesn’t care about me?”
Her passion and career has centered on listening to people, she said. “So it’s my goal to amplify the voices of everyone in my community,” she said.
Many of her political aspirations stem from her experience as a social worker. Donahue said she sees changes that need to made within the social programs, such as Social Security and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
“The safety nets that are in place to try to lift people out of poverty, often result in them being trapped in the system,” Donahue said. For her, “it’s about finding a way of being fiscally responsible and socially supportive,” she said.
“What really made me decide to run was learning that less than 20 percent of House of Representatives is made up of women,” Donahue said. “With income inequality and gender inequality, if women aren’t at the table, we’re on the menu,” she said.
Referencing “wealthy, white men” are creating the health care bill, Donahue stated the “farther you are removed from any one topic, the harder it is to advocate for that person or issue,” she said. “How do we know all voice represented at the table?” she asked.
Donahue kicked off her Listen and Learn tour June 12 at the Ridgedale Library in Minnetonka and is planning more town hall events in the future.
For more information, visit AliciaDonahue.com or follow her on Facebook and Twitter.