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A veteran politician and a political newcomer have entered the race to replace retiring Hennepin County Commissioner Linda Higgins.

The candidates are Mark Stenglein, who served as county commissioner from 1997 to 2012, and Irene Fernando, co-founder of a youth leadership nonprofit in Minneapolis. The county seat covers Golden Valley, north Minneapolis and St. Anthony.

Stenglein is director of government relations for Alatus LLC. As commissioner, he helped restructure the county library system and initiated the African-American Men’s Project, which sought to eliminate the disparities of employment and incarceration among people of color in Hennepin County.

“As commissioner, I am committed to improving the lives of our most vulnerable citizens and bridging the equity gaps in our communities, while making strategic investments and improvements to insure a more prosperous and safe future for all,” he said in a news release. “It’s time again to use our economic might and vast resources of knowledge and experience to do bold things to move our community forward.”

Fernando is a Bush Foundation fellow and taught social entrepreneurship at St. Mary’s University. She works at Thrivent leading organizational design, culture and talent.

Minneapolis Council Member Alondra Cano and former Hennepin County Commissioner Gail Dorfman have endorsed her.

“Irene’s experience as a leader in the community in business, and in academia prepare her well for Hennepin County government,” Dorf­man said.