By Wynfred Russell
He is a former refugee, a Liberian immigrant, and now the youngest city councilmember in Falcon Heights, a suburban city of St. Paul, best known as the site of the State Fair.
Yakasah Wehyee, 28, defeated two other challengers during last week’s midterm elections to win a seat on the city council. He officially takes office in January 2020, becoming the fourth elected public official of Liberian descent serving in the United States.
“I am thrilled to have been elected to the Falcon Heights city council where I look forward to addressing the challenges facing our community,” Wehyee told the Daily Observer. “Among these are the need to enhance the relationship between our public officials and the broader community, investing in our public infrastructural needs and providing affordable housing options for our less fortunate residents.”
Wehyee, a Ph.D. candidate in political science at the University of Minnesota is from Yoelay, a small village in the east-central highlands (Boe & Quilla District) of Nimba County. He emigrated to the US with his parents when he was six years old, after spending some time at a refugee camp in Danane, Ivory Coast.
Growing up in North Minneapolis, a politically active and progressive area of the Twin Cities, Councilmember-elect Wehyee honed his political and community organizing skills by attending rallies and organizing events that promote equality. Upon graduating from Saint Francis high school, he went to Hamline University where he completed his undergraduate studies in political science. There, he won the prestigious Gilder Lehrman Award in American History and led his university to the Model United Nations conference.
“Leadership to me is about bringing people with diverse views together for a common purpose and inspiring them to realize a shared purpose,” Wehyee said. Adding, “It is not about being the loudest or the smartest, but about having the ability to listen and make decisions in the interest of one’s community. It’s about being able to disagree without being disagreeable.”
Wehyee and his wife are proud parents of a beautiful dog – Prince Charles Cavalier – they called Kaira and a black cat named Mufasah.