Some St. Paul City Council members are calling for the resignation of interim Council Member Kassim Busuri, following the launch Thursday of his campaign for the Sixth Ward seat — a role he promised not to seek permanently.
In a campaign announcement Thursday, Busuri said he “had no intention of running for office” when he took the seat, but has since decided to run.
“There is important work that needs to be done for Ward Six and that takes time,” Busuri said in his announcement. “As an appointed member of the council with an abbreviated term, it makes getting that work done nearly impossible.”
Council President Amy Brendmoen said in an interview Thursday that she learned of Busuri’s campaign launch that day. Council members are looking into whether it’s possible to rescind Busuri’s appointment, she said — otherwise, they plan to call on him to resign.
“Our intention is not to stack the deck or be a kingmaker or queen-maker,” she said. “It really puts us in a bad position.”
Council members chose Busuri from a group of seven applicants in January to fill the East Side seat vacated by Council Member Dan Bostrom. At the time, Busuri pledged not to run for the Sixth Ward seat in November.
In an interview, Busuri said he has no intention of resigning his seat and does not expect that decision to affect his working relationship with other council members.
“Ward Six needs representation on the council,” he said. “Other council members have a right to do what they want, but I will not resign.”
Pledging not to run in an upcoming election is standard protocol for interim council members in St. Paul. After former Council President Russ Stark left his job in early 2018, council members chose Stark’s legislative aide, Samantha Henningson, to take his place. Henningson said she would not seek the seat, and kept her word; Mitra Jalali Nelson won a special election and joined the council in September.
All seven council seats are up for re-election in November. Busuri’s colleagues have been campaigning for months, and have all won endorsements from the St. Paul DFL.
Four Sixth Ward candidates — Nelsie Yang, Terri Thao, Tony Her and Alexander Bourne — sought the DFL endorsement last month, but none were able to garner the 60% of delegate votes needed to win.
Brendmoen and Council Member Chris Tolbert said they heard rumors that Busuri was considering joining the Sixth Ward race, and spoke with him about it after the convention. They said they reminded him of his pledge — the first question in his interim council member interview — and told him he should resign immediately if he planned to run.
“We took him at his word and we trusted his word, and we purposely put it in writing and made it a verbal pledge in front of the entire council at a public meeting,” Tolbert said in an interview Thursday. “It’s unfortunate that he so quickly could break that pledge and break the trust of the council and the people of St. Paul.”