Hennepin County Commissioner Gail Dorfman is leaving her post on the county board to take a job as executive director of St. Stephen's Human Services on March 3.
Her decision to accept the job and step down before her term ends might trigger a special election. Several candidates have announced plans to run for Dorfman's seat. Her district includes St. Louis Park and southwest Minneapolis neighborhoods.
Hennepin County Board Chair Mike Opat said the board will consult with Dorfman about the timing of her departure to see if a special election is necessary. "If so, we will very clearly announce that fact and go on to fulfill our obligation to hold a special election," he said.
He also said he's "thrilled" for Dorfman. "At St. Stephen's she will lead an organization whose mission she is passionate about. It is a great fit for her and St. Stephen's will get an outstanding leader. We will miss her presence on our board," he said.
Dorfman has served on the County Board since 2000. The contentious debate over the best route for the proposed Southwest Light Rail line has been the dominant issue for residents in her district.
Dorfman's passion for years has been work focused on helping the homeless. She's spearheaded many programs to help people in poverty, including the Hennepin County Affordable Housing Incentive Fund, Heading Home Hennepin and the Project Homeless Connect events.
"For years, St. Stephen's has looked to Gail as an innovative and deeply collaborative leader in ending homelessness," said Jane Borden, chair of the St. Stephen's board of directors. "We are honored that she will continue to lead our community's work toward social and economic justice as executive director of St. Stephen's Human Services."
St. Stephen's, headquartered at 2309 Nicollet Ave. S., served 6,687 people last year. The organization provides shelter, employment resources and works to prevent homelessness in a variety of ways.
Margaret Miles, St. Stephen's development and communications director who has been serving as interim executive director, said the nonprofit is thrilled to have Dorfman on board. "We’re honored that she has chosen to bring her energy and talent for innovation and collaboration to focus on St. Stephen’s mission of ending homelessness," she said.
The candidates who have announced plans to run for Dorfman's seat include former state Rep. Marion Greene, St. Louis Park City Council Member Anne Mavity, Hennepin County prosecutor Ben Schweigert, public policy consultant Katie Hatt and former state Sen. Ken Kelash.
The DFL precinct caucuses are Feb. 4.