This year’s odd-numbered election may yield unusual results
Off-year elections are often seen as inconsequential, but they have a significant impact on local policy. Last year’s redistricting resulted in redrawn election lines that reflect demographic changes since the 2020 census. Since then, city charter committees have implemented redistricting, changing the city council ward boundaries.
This means the place where you live could be more or less diverse than before. For example, voters in redrawn districts may now be more inclined to vote for someone who supports the police rather than someone who wants to defund them.
In addition to some contested races in Minneapolis and St. Paul—in part because elected officials who have been in office for so long have decided not to run again—voters in St. Louis Park and Duluth have the opportunity to make history by reaffirming or voting in the first Black leaders these cities have seen in their histories. St. Paul, Bloomington and Duluth will also be voting on tax increases to fund their roads, parks and schools, respectively.
Minneapolis, St. Paul to choose council members again
Voters in both Minneapolis and St. Paul are once again deciding who to elect in city council races despite doing so two years ago. The short turnaround in elections is because of redistricting undertaken by both cities last year.
Two years ago, when the U.S. Census Bureau conducted its 10-year count of who lives where, city officials used this data and appointed a commission to redraw boundaries of who represents them locally and at the state and federal levels.
Though redistricting left Minneapolis’ wards mostly the same as they were drawn in 2012, some ward boundaries were adjusted because the redistricting commission wanted to keep communities together. As a result, some wards, such as Minneapolis Wards 6, 7, 8 and 10, became more racially diverse.
All Minneapolis City Council members are up for reelection this year. Only Ward 2, which is held by Robin Wonsley, is uncontested. Wards 1, 3, 4, 5, 9, 11 and 13 are less contentious races because the race has few challengers, or the incumbent is poised to win because they are more organized, or voters tend to favor the incumbent. However, Wards 7 and 12 races, which represent relatively affluent neighborhoods, are open seats and fiercely sought-after.
Wards 6, 8 and 10 races appear to be fairly heated, with challengers competing against incumbents. In Ward 6, former corrections officer and deputy attorney general Kayseh Magan and activist wunderkind Tiger Worku are challenging incumbent Jamal Osman for his seat. In Ward 8, activist Soren Stevenson is challenging Council President Andrea Jenkins. In Ward 10, soccer coach and community service officer Nasri Warsame is challenging progressive incumbent Aisha Chugtai.
The DFL was unable to reach a consensus in endorsing a candidate in Ward 6, and it endorsed Stevenson over Jenkins in Ward 8. The DFL endorsed Chugtai in Ward 10 and banned Warsame from ever seeking endorsement for instigating a brawl during an endorsing convention in May. Warsame said those voting at the convention misunderstood the process and he apologized earlier this month.
All St. Paul City Council members are also up for reelection this year. Four of the seats, in Wards 1, 3, 5 and 7, are open because their incumbents are not running for re-election. Ward 1 represents parts of the Frogtown, Midway and Rondo neighborhoods. Ward 3 represents Mac-Groveland and Highland Park.
Ward 5 represents Como east of Lexington, North End, and Payne-Phalen west of I-35E. Ward 7 represents the East Side, generally south of Minnehaha Avenue, 7th Street and Stillwater Avenue.
The most heated race appears to be in Ward 1, which has eight candidates vying to represent the ward. Ward 7, another open seat, has six candidates vying to represent Eastside neighborhoods south of Minnehaha Avenue, 7th Street and Stillwater Avenue.
Races outside of the Twin Cities
Voters in St. Louis Park, a first-ring suburb immediately to the west of Minneapolis, could elect its first Black and Somali mayor, as well as the first Somali and Muslim mayor in Minnesota. The candidate, diversity-equity-inclusion specialist Nadia Mohamed, faces retired banker and St. Louis Park native Dale Anderson.
St. Louis Park voters will also elect two council members to represent the entire city. Peer recovery specialist Yolanda Farris, who was appointed to one of those seats earlier this year to replace an incumbent who became a state representative, is running unopposed.
Voters in Duluth will elect a mayor and choose from four candidates to fill two city council seats representing the entire city. Candidates are also running for city council in every district, except for the district that represents the University of Minnesota-Duluth, College of St. Scholastica, as well as the Kenwood, Congdon Park and Chester Creek neighborhoods.
In District 5, voters will choose between Janet Kennedy, the first Black Duluth City Council president, and youth counselor Ginka Tarnowski. District 5 includes all of Duluth southwest of 40th Avenue West. The district also includes the Rustic Bar, where Michelle Folson was brutally beaten by two White men in mid-September.
School boards are on the ballot, too
The school boards overseeing the St. Louis Park, Hopkins, Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan, Fridley and Anoka-Hennepin school districts are up for reelection this year. Candidates vying for Hopkins are running unopposed. St. Louis Park voters will choose from five candidates to fill four open school board seats.
In Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan, 10 candidates will vie for four at-large school board seats that have four-year terms. In Fridley, five candidates are running for three at-large seats.
In the Anoka-Hennepin race, seven people are running for three different seats. Two of those seats are contested, where either the incumbent is not running or is running and faces more than one challenger: District 2, which includes Blaine and eastern Coon Rapids; and District 5, which includes Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, southern Coon Rapids and Fridley.
In St. Paul’s school race, seven candidates are running for four open seats. They include the four DFL and teachers union-endorsed candidates: Chauntyll Allen, Yusef Carrillo, Carlo Franco and Erica Valliant. Another incumbent, Zuki Ellis, did not receive the endorsement, as did Abdi Omer and Gita Rijal Zeitler.
Voters in Duluth will choose between seven candidates to fill three school board seats. One represents the entire school district, while the two seats represent central Duluth, roughly Congdon Park to the east and Enger Park to the west.
Tax increases on the ballot
Some Minnesota voters will also vote on increasing their sales tax. This comes on the heels of a transportation and housing sales tax increase affecting Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott and Washington Counties that went into effect in October.
In St. Paul, voters will decide whether or not to increase the sales tax by one percent for the next 20 years to pay for rebuilding 44 miles of crumbling St. Paul streets, such as Marshall Avenue in the Rondo neighborhood. The sales tax would also pay for parks and recreation center improvements, including a new facility in the East Side, as well as a balcony overlooking the Mississippi River in downtown.
In Bloomington, voters will decide on increasing the sales tax up to 1.5 percent for the next 20 years to renovate and reconstruct its parks and recreation facilities. This includes rebuilding its ice arena, building a new wellness center, and renovating a trail and the parks that connect to it.
Duluth voters will vote on two issues to fund the school district. One could raise the property tax for 10 years to enhance technology access at Duluth schools. The other could allow the district to borrow $21.8 million to buy equipment to maintain its facilities.
To get sample ballots for your election district, visit myballotmn.sos.mn.gov.