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Kunesh, Mary K.

House 2017-2020 (District 41B); Senate 2021-2022 (District 41); Senate 2023-Present (District 39)

Party when first elected:  Democratic-Farmer-Labor

Counties Served:  Anoka, Hennepin, Ramsey

BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION

Date of Birth: 11/20/1960
Birth Place: St. Paul, Minnesota
Birth County:
Birth Country: United States
Date of Death:
Gender: Female
Religion:
Reported Minority: American Indian
Other Names:
Former Name: Kunesh-Podein
City of Residence (when first elected): New Brighton
Occupation (when first elected): Library Media Specialist

EDUCATION

St. Catherine's University, St. Paul; B.A.; Elementary Education, 1995
St. Cloud State University; M.A.; Information Media, 2010

OTHER GOVERNMENT SERVICE

Municipal Board/Commission: New Brighton (Parks, Recreation and Environment, Chair); 2010 to 02/2017

FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS

Spouse: Tim
Children: Three children: Elianne, Louisa, Elie
Family Members Who Have Served in the Minnesota Legislature:

GENERAL NOTES

Special legislative concerns: Education, civil justice, environment, American Indian issues.

During her State Representative tenure her name was Mary Kunesh-Podein.

She is the first indigenous woman to serve in the Minnesota Senate.

She refers to herself as a person of Lakota heritage on her 2020 campaign website.

Her "mother and grandfather [were] enrolled members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe." (Minnesota Lawyer, April 27, 2017)

She was a founding member of the Native American and People of Color & Indigenous (POCI) caucuses.

She has 12 siblings (she is nine of thirteen kids) in her family and has a twin.

Total Days Served: 2609

SESSIONS SERVED

93rd Legislative Session (2023-2024)

  Session Details
Body: Senate
District: 39
Elected: 11/8/2022
Residence: New Brighton
Term of Office: 1/3/2023 to 1/11/2027
Counties Represented: Anoka, Hennepin, Ramsey
Occupation: Library media specialist/legislator
Party: Democratic-Farmer-Labor
Bills Authored: Chief Author     Author
Committees:
  • Agriculture, Broadband and Rural Development
  • Education Finance (Chair)
  • Education Policy
  • Environment, Climate, and Legacy
  • Rules and Administration: Subcommittee on Ethical Conduct
Leadership Position: Assistant Majority Leader

92nd Legislative Session (2021-2022)

  Session Details
Body: Senate
District: 41
Elected: 11/3/2020
Residence: New Brighton
Term of Office: 1/5/2021 to 1/2/2023
Counties Represented: Anoka, Hennepin, Ramsey
Occupation: Library media specialist/legislator
Party: Democratic-Farmer-Labor
Bills Authored: Chief Author     Author
Committees:
  • Education Finance and Policy
  • Mining and Forestry Policy
  • Redistricting
Leadership Position: Assistant Minority Leader

91st Legislative Session (2019-2020)

  Session Details
Body: House
District: 41B
Elected: 11/6/2018
Residence: New Brighton
Term of Office: 1/8/2019 to 1/4/2021
Counties Represented: Anoka, Hennepin, Ramsey
Occupation: Educator
Party: Democratic-Farmer-Labor
Bills Authored: Chief Author     Author
Committees:
  • Education Policy Minutes
  • Ethics Minutes
  • Ways & Means: Education Finance Division Minutes
  • Ways & Means: Health and Human Services Finance Division Minutes
Leadership Position: Assistant Majority Leader

90th Legislative Session (2017-2018)

  Session Details
Body: House
District: 41B
Elected: 11/8/2016
Residence: New Brighton
Term of Office: 1/3/2017 to 1/7/2019
Counties Represented: Anoka, Hennepin, Ramsey
Occupation: Library Media Specialist
Party: Democratic-Farmer-Labor
Bills Authored: Chief Author     Author
Committees:
Video
2020 Departing House Member Speeches (Video) 2020


These files are available in the Legislative Reference Library.

The Minnesota Legislative Reference Library has collected newspaper articles on legislators since 1973. They are available in the Library.

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