For Immediate Release: Former Senate Leader Melisa López Franzen and Luverne Area Community Foundation Executive Director Emily Crabtree join FairVote Minnesota’s Board 

Published on January 22, 2023

For Immediate Release

Contact: Erin Zamoff, FairVote Minnesota Director of Communications and Public Affairs, 952-334-8313 

New board members begin as FairVote Minnesota launches historic legislative campaign to bring Ranked Choice Voting statewide.

St. Paul (January 22, 2023) – FairVote Minnesota, the leading nonprofit for Ranked Choice Voting in the state, today announced that Former Senate Minority Leader Melisa López Franzen and Luverne Area Community Foundation Executive Director Emily Crabtree have joined FairVote Minnesota’s Board. These trailblazers join the board at a historic and exciting time for the democracy reform movement.

In last November’s election, Minnesota voters elected the largest number of pro-RCV candidates to the Minnesota House and Senate ever, and ranked-choice advocates are poised to secure the majority necessary to pass Ranked Choice Voting statewide – becoming the first state to do so through legislative action. In the coming weeks, members of the Minnesota House and Senate will introduce legislation implementing RCV for state and federal offices in both primary and general elections and allowing Minnesota cities and localities to use it for local elections if they wish.

“We couldn’t ask for two more highly qualified leaders to join the movement for a stronger, more inclusive and representative democracy, and we’re thrilled to have these stellar women join our board, especially at this momentous time,” said FairVote Minnesota’s Executive Director Jeanne Massey.

López Franzen served in the Minnesota Senate for a decade after her first election in 2012 and was elected Senate Minority Leader in 2021. López Franzen made history as the first woman and first Puerto Rican to represent Senate District 49, serving the communities of Edina, Bloomington, Eden Prairie, and Minnetonka at the State Capitol. She is Co-Founder and President of NewPublica, a full service public relations and advocacy firm.

“Not only must we protect the most fundamental of rights, the right to vote,” declared López Franzen, “we must do everything we can to open up the political process to those historically excluded and encourage more candidates with diverse backgrounds and perspectives to run, and that’s what Ranked Choice Voting can do. RCV will ensure our elections more fully represent and reflect the people and provide the leadership we need for our communities to thrive and succeed.”

Board member Emily Crabtree has spent her career helping local communities thrive both as a teacher in Minnesota and Wisconsin and as Executive Director of the Luverne Area Community Foundation. Born and raised in Rock County and a graduate of Luverne High School and University of Minnesota – Morris, Crabtree understands the importance of including rural perspectives in the electoral process, and as a teacher she knows we must evolve outdated political systems to engage more voters and particularly the next generation in the political process.

“My decision to join Fairvote Minnesota’s board and support Ranked Choice Voting comes from a desire to re-engage the next generation in the political process and give younger voters, including my own children, a healthier, more civil political environment and more choices for political leadership,” she explained. “The system we have in place now does not speak to the generations that are the future of our state, and if we lose their engagement in the political process, we will lose so much more.” She added, “I want to be a part of that change.”

Crabtree and López Franzen join the board as the organization launches a historic legislative campaign to bring Ranked Choice Voting statewide. “We couldn’t be more excited about the talent and diverse perspectives these two women leaders bring to our board,” said Board Chair Dr. Maureen Reed. “They reflect the communities they serve and bring their voices to this important movement.” She also expressed her gratitude to retiring board members Tom Horner, Roann Cramer, Stephen Imholte, and Siyad Abdullahi for their longtime service and commitment to the advancement of Ranked Choice Voting.

The organization also recently hired Sarah Kruger—former Minnesota State Senate candidate and congressional campaign manager for Jeff Ettinger—as Chief of Staff, and she, along with Jeanne Massey, are building the team for the groundbreaking campaign to bring this top democracy reform to the Northstar state.

For questions or more information about Ranked Choice Voting, FairVote Minnesota or the legislative campaign for RCV, reporters should contact erin.zamoff@fairvotemn.org; 952-334-8313.  Learn more at fairvotemn.org.

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