November 09, 2017

Minnesota Legislative Update: 2017 Election Recap

On Tuesday, November 7, voters in Minneapolis and Saint Paul headed to the polls to cast their vote for a new mayor in their respective city. Fifteen candidates sought to replace Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges. After counting the first choice votes on Tuesday evening, Councilmember Jacob Frey led the pack with 25 percent of first choice votes followed by Tom Hoch (19 percent), Mayor Hodges (18 percent), Representative Raymond Dehn (17 percent) and Nekima Levy-Pounds (15 percent). Because no candidate received over 50 percent of the first choice votes, tabulation of second and third choice votes was completed on Wednesday, November 8. Frey maintained his lead, securing the seat for mayor for the next four years. Turnout in Minneapolis was much higher than in previous municipal elections. This year’s turnout is estimated around 43 percent. In 2013, voter turnout was 27.9 percent. 

Mayor-elect Frey was elected to the Minneapolis City Council in 2013 representing downtown, the North Loop, and the eastside of the river. Frey grew up in Virginia and came to Minneapolis after law school. A former professional runner, the Twin Cities Marathon was Frey's introduction to Minneapolis. 

In Saint Paul, results were known by 10 p.m. on election night. Melvin Carter won 51 percent of the first choice votes for the open mayor's seat, defeating Pat Harris (25 percent) and Councilmember Dai Thao (12 percent). A total of ten candidates ran for the seat after current Mayor Chris Coleman decided not to stand for re-election in order to toss his hat into next year's gubernatorial race. Turnout in Saint Paul was higher than expected, reaching 27 percent of eligible voters. In the last municipal election, turnout was 15.5 percent, although that year’s mayoral race was uncontested.

Mayor-elect Carter will be Saint Paul’s first African-American mayor. He served on the City Council from 2008 to 2013 and currently serves as the Executive Director of the Minnesota Children's Cabinet. Carter's family has deep roots in St. Paul. His father is a former police officer and his mother currently serves as a Ramsey County Commissioner.

Minneapolis City Council 

In Minneapolis, all 13 City Council seats were on the ballot. Only two of those seats were open. Councilmember Elizabeth Glidden (Ward 8) decided not to run for re-election and Councilmember Frey (Ward 3) ran for mayor.  The City Council will see five new faces in January, and a new Council President. Current President Barb Johnson was defeated by Phillipe Cunningham, ending her 20-year career on the Council representing North Minneapolis. Cunningham served as a Senior Policy Aide to Mayor Hodges on education, youth success, racial equity, and LGBTQ rights. He is the first transgender man to serve on the City Council. A new Council President will officially be chosen next year. There has been speculation that Councilmember Lisa Bender will run for the position. 
 
Incumbent Councilmembers Cam Gordon (Ward 2), Lisa Goodman (Ward 7), Lisa Bender (Ward 10), Andrew Johnson (Ward 12), and Linea Palmisano (Ward 13) were re-elected overwhelmingly in their wards. Councilmember-elect Andrea Jenkins (Ward 8) also encountered little resistance taking over for Glidden. Jenkins will be the first transgender woman to serve on the City Council. 
 
In Ward 1, Councilmember Kevin Reich retained his seat beating challenger Jillia Passenda. DFL-endorsed candidate Steven Fletcher will take Frey’s seat in Ward 3. Fletcher is a technology consultant, researcher, business owner and community organizer. In Ward 5, newcomer Jeremiah Ellison defeated incumbent Councilmember Blong Yang. Ellison is the son of Congressman Keith Ellison and Minneapolis School Board Vice-Chair Kim Ellison. He is an artist and community activist.
 
In Ward 6, Councilmember Abdi Warsame will get a second term after beating challenger Mohamud Noor in a close race. Councilmember Alondra Cano will also return to the council to represent Ward 9 after beating former Councilmember Gary Schiff. Newcomer Jeremy Schroeder will replace Councilmember John Quinicy in Ward 11. Schroeder currently serves as the policy director for the Minnesota Housing Partnership. 

Minneapolis Park Board

Voters in Minneapolis also elected members of the Park Board. The Park Board is made up of three at-large members and six district members and is responsible for an annual budget of $111 million. The three incumbents returning to the Park Board are Meg Forney (At-Large), Steffanie Musich (District 5), and Brad Bourn (District 6). The six newcomers include Latrisha Vetaw (At-Large), Londel French (At-Large), Chris Meyer (District 1), Kale Severson (District 2), AK Hassan (District 3), and Jono Cowgill (District 4). 

Other municipal elections across the state included:  Aurora, Barnesville, Benson, Bloomington, Chatfield, Circle Pines, Dilworth, Duluth, Hopkins, Independence, Lino Lakes, Lonsdale, Mahtomedi, Minnetonka, Mounds View, New Brighton, Northfield, Rushfield, Sacred Heart, Savage, St. Anthony, St. Louis Park, St. Paul Park, St. Peter, White Bear Lake and White Township.
 
With the municipal elections over, all eyes turn to 2018, when Minnesota will choose its next Governor. Current Governor Mark Dayton is not running for re-election. U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, all eight members of Congress, and the Minnesota House of Representatives will be on the 2018 ballot with over a dozen gubernatorial candidates announced and several competitive congressional districts, 2018 is sure to be an interesting year. 

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