‘Politics is how we care for each other’
From the Minneapolis Labor Review, September 25, 2020
By Steve Share, Minneapolis Labor Review editor
BURNSVILLE — “My social work education informs my political work,” says Jess Hanson. “Politics is how we care for each other.”
Hanson is running to represent District 56A in the Minnesota House of Representatives. She is running with the endorsement of the Minnesota AFL-CIO and the DFL Party. District 56A includes Savage and the northwest part of Burnsville.
In 2018, labor-endorsed DFLer Hunter Cantrell won the seat in an election that returned the DFL to the majority in the Minnesota House. Cantrell decided not to run for re-election, however, creating an open seat.
In the 2018 campaign, Hanson had worked to help get Cantrell elected. “I know how hard he worked and I know we’d have to work even harder to keep it,” she says.
This year, COVID-19 precautions are keeping most candidates from doorknocking. “We have to phone bank — that’s the only way we’re going to win,” Hanson says. “When I get people on the phone, people are thrilled to engage.”
Hanson frames her campaign with the theme, “the politics of care.” She explains, “to me, the politics of care means striving to create a Minnesota where families and businesses can prosper.”
Hanson has one foot in the corporate world, one foot in the world of advocacy. Still in her teens, Hanson began working for Anthem, a health benefits company where 15 years later she continues to work as a network representative. “I’ve learned a lot of things in that corporate setting that are important skills,” she says.
Advocacy is Hanson’s passion, however, which she discovered while engaging with state legislators while working to build a coalition for cannibis legalization.
Hanson is a single mom and lives in Burnsville with her two children, ages 16 and 9. Growing up in Lakeville, she graduated from Farmington High School. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in social work from the University of St. Catherine and is near completing a Master’s Degree in Advocacy and Political Leadership from Metropolitan State University.
Hanson grew up in a union family: Her dad was a Teamster, her grandmother was a UFCW member, her grandfather was in the Carpenters union. She saw what strong unions meant, especially for her grandparents. “They retired with pensions. They still have [health] insurance… It’s like a fantasy to my generation.”
“The work that we need to do for working families is enormous,” Hanson says.