Council President Andrea Jenkins won reelection to the City Council by less than 40 votes
When the first-round results were delivered on Tuesday evening, her opponent, criminal policy associate Soren Stevenson, was ahead by just over 100 votes. But this is a ranked-choice race, where voters can choose up to two backup candidates, in case their first choice doesn’t win. Candidates need 50 percent, plus one vote to win.
Because neither candidate received the 50 percent, plus one vote needed to win, there was another round to count second-choice votes. And when the city finished counting those votes just before 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning, Jenkins emerged with a lead of 38 votes. The slim margin of victory is evidence of the tenuous hold Jenkins has in a ward whose values and demographics have changed over the past several years.
Who voted and how?
In this election, Ward 8 boasted the second-highest voter turnout percentage after Ward 12, with 43 percent of registered voters casting ballots at the polls. Jenkins received 3,491 first-choice votes, while Stevenson received 3,597 votes.
In the first round of voting, Stevenson won precincts 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 10 and 11. Those precincts cover south Lyndale, the northern part of the Kingfield, Central, Field and Regina neighborhoods, as well as all of the Bryant and Bancroft neighborhoods.
Four of these precincts also include the area surrounding George Floyd Square, at 38th and Chicago. The precincts surrounding George Floyd Square average 39 percent people of color, according to 2021 census data. The census data for the same area in 2011, showed an average of 52 percent people of color. Precinct 5, bounded by Portland Avenue, Interstate 35W, Lake Street, and 36th Street, averages 66 percent people of color.
Meanwhile, Jenkins won precincts 1, 4, 8 and 9. Those precincts include the northern half of the Lyndale and Field neighborhoods, as well as south Kingfield and Regina. People of color make up 49 percent of precinct 1, according to census data. Otherwise, the precincts Jenkins won have a population that is no more than 30 percent people of color.
The race appears to have been decided by those who voted for Terry White and Bob Sullentrop, both conservative candidates. Of those ballots, 401 were transferred to Jenkins in subsequent rounds, while 257 of the second and third-round ballots were transferred to Stevenson, according to the city. Jenkins received an additional six ballots from those who voted for write-in candidates, and Stevenson an additional two.
Still, the close margin of victory suggests some disaffected constituents. She lost the DFL endorsement to Stevenson, who supports rent control and a more holistic approach to public safety. While Jenkins opposes rent control and believes police should play a role in public safety.
Perhaps more importantly, she failed to reschedule a vote on rent control that occurred on Eid al-Fitr, when three Muslim city council members who supported the bill were absent.
Supporters and Jenkins grateful, nonetheless
Despite Jenkins’ near loss, her campaign is still celebrating.
“I am so grateful to the voters of Ward 8 for trusting me with another term on the Minneapolis City Council and I am ready to continue working for the residents of Ward 8 and Minneapolis,” said Jenkins in a statement issued by her campaign on Wednesday.
During an election night party at the Creekside Supper Club at 48th and Chicago, Jenkins touted her achievements during her time on the city council, among them building the D Line, declaring racism a public health crisis, making Juneteenth a city holiday, passing a renters’ protection ordinance and 12 weeks of paid family leave, securing funding to build 278 affordable housing units in the ward, as well as 48 units of senior housing at Sabathani Community Center.
Those who attended her election night party think she is the best candidate to represent the ward. Among them were former Minneapolis mayor, and Ward 8 councilmember and native, Sharon Sayles Belton. “She really understands the importance of not putting a Band-Aid, nor playing to the rhetoric associated with public safety,” said Sayles Belton. “She knows that it’s important to have good and solid prevention initiatives in place, intervention strategies, and also good and responsible policing.”
Another supporter is Ward 11 resident Stearling Rucker. “She is honest. When she said she’s going to do something, she does it and she follows through on it,” said Rucker. “One of the biggest issues that she has worked on [is] George Floyd Square, and she has been consistent in terms of having community meetings, asking the people who live around the square what they think.”
Some attendees at Jenkins’ election night party criticized those who were supporting Stevenson for not being progressive because they tried to oust a Black trans woman from the city council. “What the progressives did in this race here against Andrea was just totally wrong,” said Southside resident Al Flowers. “If you can go against the first African American transgender president of the city council, are you really progressive or what’s your agenda? Because it ain’t no agenda about African Americans.”
Though the results between Jenkins and Sorenson were within a 0.5 percent margin which by state law allows for the loser to demand a recount, the Stevenson campaign decided to concede on Thursday, choosing instead to mourn the loss and celebrate the work they did in campaigning over the past nine months.
Also, it is doubtful that Jenkins will remain president of the city council come 2024. With the moderates losing ground in the city council, it is likely that the next president will be decided by the progressives when all of the new council members are sworn-in in January.