Election History: Harmon Set To Be First Person of Color in Golden Valley Mayor’s Seat
Golden Valley looks to have made history on Tuesday, Nov. 7. Unofficial results from the election show that voters selected Roslyn Harmon to be the city’s first person of color to hold the mayor’s seat.
Harmon received 2,819 votes or 49.79 percent, while her opponent Gillian Rosenquist had 2,793 or 49.33 percent, according to the unofficial results.
‘I Didn’t Know What Was Going to Happen’
Harmon told CCX News that she came into election night without expectations.
“I didn’t know what was going to happen,” she said.
By the end of the night, Harmon led Rosenquist by a narrow 26-vote margin in the race for Golden Valley mayor. She said she’s expecting a recount.
“They automatically have to do a recount, just to be sure,” she said.
Rosenquist, who is a current member of the Golden Valley City Council, told CCX News she’s not planning to request a recount.
According to state statute, a losing candidate in a municipal election may request a recount if the difference is less than one-half of one percent, and the total number of votes cast for all candidates is between 400 and 50,000.
“I’m of course disappointed with the close result not in my favor,” said Rosenquist, who was first elected to the council in 2018. “I will not be requesting a recount.”
Rosenquist’s term as a council member expires in 2025. She practices intellectual property law.
“I continue to serve on the city council and appreciate all the support shown during this campaign,” Rosenquist said. “I’m pleased that my esteemed colleagues Maurice Harris and Sophia Ginis will continue to serve.”
Meanwhile, Harmon, who is vice chair of the Golden Valley Police Employment, Accountability and Community Engagement Commission, said she’s ready to work with Rosenquist and the council to tackle the issues.
“Now we just all have to come together,” Harmon said. “It’s not us versus them, but let’s come together.”
By profession, Harmon is executive director of the Dispute Resolution Center in St. Paul.
Harmon’s mother is Rose McGee, the founder of Sweet Potato Comfort Pie. Harmon is a board member with the organization.
A Historic Decision
Harmon’s win is historic for the city of Golden Valley. She’s the first person of color elected to the mayor’s seat.
“My forefathers, my ancestors, my loved ones who have died before me, my grandparents — you know — this is truly a remarkable day that I believe they paved the way for me to be here,” Harmon said.
Next Golden Valley Mayor Succeeds Shep Harris
If the election results withstand the potential scrutiny of a recount, Harmon will succeed Golden Valley Mayor Shep Harris, who did not run for re-election this year.
Explaining the decision in a city council meeting, Harris said he wanted to spend more time with his family and working on his career.
Harris was first elected to the seat in 2011, defeating former Mayor Linda Loomis. He served three terms as mayor.
Policing in Golden Valley
Harmon would take the helm as the city works to overcome a string of controversies related to policing.
“Public safety is [priority] number one,” Harmon said.
While the police department currently employs 19 officers, staffing levels dropped as low as 10 officers a year ago. The city still has an agreement with the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office to patrol city streets during the day shift.
Police union officials blamed city leadership for a mass exodus of police officers.
“We are confident that we will have a full department by 2024,” Harmon said.
Meanwhile, third-party reports alleged misconduct within the Golden Valley Police Department. One officer was fired for making “offensive” and “racist” remarks, while others were found to be resistant to diversity and equity initiatives.
The new class of officers is increasingly diverse and excited about transforming Golden Valley, Harmon said.
“That’s just amazing for us as we really hit the reset button on reimaging what this police department can do,” Harmon said. “Not to say that it was bad in the past, but like everywhere, we need some new change.”