You’ve met the historic, all-female St. Paul City Council. Now meet their legislative aides.

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It’s often been said that legislative aides are the unsung heroes of St. Paul City Hall, handling everything from complex constituent requests and ordinance research to the finer points of policy matters on behalf of each city council member. Meanwhile, executive assistants serve as each council member’s front-line schedulers, receptionists and administrative helpers.

The all-female city council drew national attention during their inauguration in January, in part for their ethnic diversity and the fact that all of the seven members were under the age of 40 at the time. The council’s seven legislative aides are no less diverse, with representation from Black, white, Hmong and African immigrant communities.

There’s been a recent shake-up of sorts among the legislative aides, with Jennifer Lor — the former aide to Ward 6 Council Member Nelsie Yang, who recently went on maternity leave — shifting last month to the mayor’s office, where “JLor” is now the press secretary for St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter. She works closely with Emily Buss, who was hired about a year ago as the mayor’s overall communications director.

Recent hires Ploua Yang and Jon Berry have filled the openings for legislative aides in the Ward 6 office and in Ward 1 Council Member Anika Bowie’s office, respectively. “I’m excited to get to work, excited to be back here,” said Berry, the who grew up playing football at the Jimmy Lee Rec Center on Lexington Parkway and graduated from Central High School. “This is a historic council.”

Here’s an overview of who’s who among legislative aides:

Ward 1

Bowie, who was elected last November, took her time finding a permanent legislative aide, but ultimately hired Berry last month to fill the role. Berry, a professional host for live sports promotions, comes from a marketing background, having recently served for two and a half years as the marketing director for the Metropolitan Economic Development Association, or MEDA, which serves to boost entrepreneurs of color. Berry, who holds a business degree from DeVry University’s Keller Graduate School of Management, previously worked in marketing for Lift Brands, Effectv Advertising, Coborn’s, Target and Disney Radio.

He’s been the in-game arena host for the Minnesota Timberwolves for the past 10 years, appearing on live camera during games as one of its most colorful promoters, and serves in similar roles for the Minnesota Lynx and University of Minnesota alumni “Ski-U-Mania” parties. Dan Dodge, who had been legislative aide to former Ward 1 Council Member Russel Balenger, continued in a transitional role for several weeks past the swearing in of the new council in January before stepping down on Feb. 9.

Polly Heintz is Bowie’s executive assistant.

Ward 2

Taina Maki, legislative aide to St. Paul City Council member Rebecca Noecker. (Courtesy of Taina Maki)

Taina Maki has served as Council Member Rebecca Noecker’s legislative aide since Noecker assumed office in 2016. Maki is the former executive director of the Minnesota office of Physicians for a National Health Program, a former legislative assistant to state Sen. John Marty and a former operations director for Minnesotans United for All Families.

She has also held campaign, policy or communications roles for John Marty for Governor, the Midwest Democracy Network, OutFront Minnesota, TakeAction Minnesota, the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and Rainbow Families. Maki holds a master’s degree in public affairs from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs and a master’s degree in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Kayla Thao is Noecker’s executive assistant.

Ward 3

Tom Basgen, legislative aide to St. Paul City Council member Saura Jost, with his mother, Pamela Belding. (Courtesy of Tom Basgen)

When Saura Jost was elected to the city council in November, she drew with her — and then promoted — a worker from another council office. Tom Basgen, who had served as executive assistant to Council Member Mitra Jalali for two years before Jalali became council president, transferred in January to Jost’s office, where he was promoted to legislative aide.

Basgen, a former heavy truck mechanic, bartender and foundryman at the St. Paul Brass and Aluminum Foundry on Minnehaha Avenue, previously worked on political campaigns for Jalali, state Sen. Erin Murphy (including her gubernatorial run in 2018) and Gov. Tim Walz.

During initial planning for bicycle lanes on Cleveland Avenue and the redevelopment of the Ford Motor. Co. campus in Highland Park, now known as Highland Bridge, he became a founding member and treasurer with Sustain Ward 3, which he described as an effort to promote housing development, bicycle infrastructure and a “healthy, affordable city for all.”

Marvalyne Tripp is Jost’s executive assistant.

Ward 4

Doua Yang-Hernandez, who has served as St. Paul City Council President Mitra Jalali’s legislative aide since 2021. (Courtesy of Doua Yang-Hernandez)

Doua Yang-Hernandez has served as Council President Mitra Jalali’s legislative aide since 2021 and was field director and campaign manager for Jalali’s 2019 election bid. She has been a Hmong translator on campaigns for U.S. President Joe Biden, state Rep. Liz Lee, St. Paul Council Member Cheniqua Johnson and others, and oversaw planning for the city council inauguration in January.

Yang-Hernandez is a former trainer with Vote Run Lead, where she was a coach to political campaign managers, and is a former fellow with the New Leaders Council Twin Cities, a leadership development organization for young people involved in policy and advocacy. She holds a master’s degree in education and educational leadership from Minnesota State University.

Yang-Hernandez, who was born and raised in St. Paul, grew up volunteering at Neighborhood House, where her late father worked, and spent nearly a decade mentoring and advising St. Paul Public Schools students through multiple educational nonprofits and institutions. Among them, she previously served as the TRIO Upward Bound college access advisor at Metropolitan State University and the University of Minnesota, and held a similar role with Breakthrough Twin Cities.

Kristin Koziol is Jalali’s executive assistant.

Ward 5

Abdihamid Badri, legislative aide to St. Paul City Council Vice President HwaJeong Kim. (Courtesy of Abdihamid Badri)

Abdihamid Badri is the legislative aide to City Council Vice President HwaJeong Kim.

Badri is a former legislative assistant with the Minnesota House and Senate Democratic-Farmer-Labor Caucus.

He has an undergraduate degree in political science from Hamline University.

Jenna McCullough is Kim’s executive assistant.

Ward 6

Ploua Yang, the legislative aide for St. Paul City Council member Nelsie Yang. (Courtesy of Ploua Yang)

Ploua Yang is the legislative aide to Council Member Nelsie Yang.

Previously she was a program manager with the Coalition of Asian American Leaders and spent nearly four years in the office of Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan as a policy project manager and senior public engagement liaison.

She received her bachelor’s degree in human services at Metropolitan State University.

Sonia Romero is Nelsie Yang’s executive assistant.

Ward 7

Melanie Johnson, the legislative aide to St, Paul City Council member Cheniqua Johnson. (Courtesy of Melanie Johnson)

Melanie Johnson is the legislative aide to Council Member Cheniqua Johnson. She holds a master’s degree in social work with a focus on community organizing and community systems from the University of Michigan. She spent eight years at the University of Minnesota in the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Program as an academic advisor and later as the Associate Director of Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.

She was previously an academic advisor at Rhodes State College in Ohio and a landlord liaison, crisis housing coordinator and housing access program supervisor with SOS Community Services in Michigan. She also spent a year as a matching specialist with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Washtenaw County, Michigan. She lives in the ward.

Sumeya Said, who also lives in the ward, is the office’s executive assistant.

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