Welcome to “Who the Folk?!” Every week on Monday we feature a new member of the community as our “Person of the Week.” Last week week we got to know Jamie Diamond. This week meet Steve Simon! Know someone we should feature? Nominate them by sending an email to [email protected].
Steve: Yes. My great grandparents were Jewish immigrants from Lithuania and Poland. They settled at first on the Iron Range in Eveleth before eventually moving to the Twin Cities. I grew up in St. Louis Park and Hopkins. I then went to college in the Boston area, studied and lived in Washington, D.C., and worked on a political campaign in Arkansas.
TCJ: You’re Minnesota’s new Secretary of State! That’s so cool! Have you always been active in government?
Steve: I’ve been drawn to current events and public affairs since I was a kid. By the time of my bar mitzvah, I was a complete news junkie. That translated into an interest in campaigns and politics before I could even drive. In fact, I still remember my mom driving me and two friends to a campaign office for our first volunteer experience.
TCJ: What’s on your agenda for your first months in office?
Steve: One particular goal is that I want to make voting as easy as possible for all eligible voters in Minnesota. That means supporting legislation for more early voting, for pre-registration of high school students, and for extra voting protections for members of our military. It also means opposing unreasonable barriers to voting. American Jews have always been passionate about voting rights. Of the three famously martyred civil rights workers murdered in Mississippi in 1964 for registering voters, two were Jewish. We don’t forget the notion that our vote is our voice.
My other main priority is making it as easy as possible for Minnesotans to set up and run their businesses. That means streamlining services for businesses so Minnesotans can spend more time with their business and less time shuffling paperwork.
TCJ: Which of the many Jewish summer camps gets you most ferklempt?
Steve: I am a proud alum of Temple Israel’s Camp Teko. My first away from home experience was a real character builder as a young kid. Long story short: I spent the first week plotting how I was going to escape and the last two weeks not wanting to leave.
TCJ: What’s your favorite way to celebrate Shabbat?
Steve: I like to celebrate with Challah, Matzo Ball Soup, and the lighting of candles with my family.
TCJ: What’s your favorite Jewish food?
Steve: Nothing beats a juicy corned beef (or pastrami) sandwich on rye bread, with deli mustard. It’s a classic, and it’s a cliché, but it’s also delicious. Runner-up: Lox and cream cheese (onions and capers optional) on a fresh bagel.
TCJ: What’s your favorite Jewish holiday?
Steve: Passover. It’s sort of like “Jewish Thanksgiving.” A great family holiday with a compelling message (and special food).
TCJ: Have you been to Israel? What’s your favorite memory?
Steve: I’ve been to Israel twice. Picking a favorite memory is hard, but wandering the Old City of Jerusalem for the first time was unforgettable. I also loved visiting Masada and the Dead Sea. There’s literally no place in the rest of the world like them.
TCJ: What’s your favorite thing to do in the Cities?
Steve: I love to run or walk around the lakes. I also enjoy grabbing a bite to eat and watching baseball.
TCJ: What else do you do for fun?
Steve: I like to hang out with my two small kids. I’m also a movie buff and a runner (although I need to get back into good habits).
TCJ: Give us one more reason why you’re folking awesome!
Steve: I’m proud to be Minnesota’s first ever Jewish constitutional officer (i.e. governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, auditor, or attorney general).
[Editor’s Note: Steve Simon will be the Shabbat morning speaker at Adath Jeshurun on February 28 for Jewish Disabilities Awareness Month, discussing voting issues. More info at Adath’s website.]Click here to nominate your favorite TC Jew to be featured on our weekly Who the Folk?! series!