Jen Westmoreland, a well-known west metro progressive activist, and domestic partner to Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty, has announced she is running for the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners.
Westmoreland, a community college instructor and Hopkins School Board member, announced via a newly-created campaign Facebook page that she will be seeking to fill the District 6 Hennepin County Board seat just made vacant last week with the resignation of Chris LaTondresse.
If elected, Westmoreland would sit on the second largest elected government body in Minnesota, one that controls the budget of the office her partner runs, which employs more than 500 attorneys and support staff. As county attorney, Moriarty oversees a budget of more than $65 million.
“I’m grateful for the public support of elected, appointed, and community leaders throughout District 6 who have thought-partnered with me for years, including over the past few weeks as I prepared to launch this campaign,” Westmoreland said in her campaign announcement. “I can’t wait to have many more meaningful conversations throughout our community in the coming months as we articulate our shared vision.”
Westmoreland (then known as Jennifer Bouchard) was the campaign chair for LaTondresse’s 2020 campaign for the District 6 seat, and co-campaigned with him as part of a slate of progressive candidates for Hopkins School Board in 2017. LaTondresse left his seat to start a new job as CEO for non-profit development company Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative. That triggered a special election for the seat for next spring.
While chairing LaTondresse’s campaign, Westmoreland helped him raise more than $85,000 in donations, several from DFL and labor union-related entities and individual donors. He also used Democrat-sponsored donation tools like ActBlue. Several highly visible DFLers like Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan supported the campaign. Flanagan’s husband, former Minnesota Public Radio journalist Tom Weber, consulted for that campaign.
“This is a time of great opportunity for District 6,” Westmoreland said about her candidacy. “We are navigating unprecedented developments in transit and housing — and we know that each member of our community deserves a safe and dignified place to live. We need immediate environmental action and effective approaches to community safety.”
Last week, a number of Minnetonka residents packed City Hall to address the crime that they say has plagued some of their neighborhoods. Minnetonka lies inside the District 6 seat Westmoreland is seeking.
“Until we have prosecutors and county attorneys who are going to prosecute the criminals, nothing’s going to change. I think people better wake up to that when they vote,” said one resident at the Sept. 19 meeting, referring to Moriarty, who was mentioned repeatedly during the meeting.
Before Westmoreland and Moriarty made their relationship public, Westmoreland endorsed Moriarty for the hotly contested Hennepin County attorney election, in which Moriarty beat out a number of other well-known DFLers. After her election victory, Westmoreland said Moriarty would be the “most brilliant, justice-driven, visionary Hennepin County Attorney we have ever seen.”
When Moriarty took over the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office in January, Westmoreland held the book — “March,” by former Democratic Congressman John Lewis — that Moriarty placed her hand on when she took the oath of office.
While Westmoreland is the first to announce she will seek to fill the District 6 seat on the county board, former state legislator Dario Anselmo told Alpha News he is considering running. Anselmo lost a close race to LaTondresse for the seat in 2020. The seat represents Edina, Minnetonka, Eden Prairie, Deephaven, Excelsior, Greenwood, Long Lake, Minnetonka Beach, Mound, Orono, Shorewood, Spring Park, Tonka Bay, Woodland, and Wayzata.
Hank Long is a journalism and communications professional whose writing career includes coverage of the Minnesota legislature, city and county governments and the commercial real estate industry. Hank received his undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota, where he studied journalism, and his law degree at the University of St. Thomas. The Minnesota native lives in the Twin Cities with his wife and four children. His dream is to be around when the Vikings win the Super Bowl.