Another easy one. On the ballot:
Well, the good news on this race: despite the presence of four candidates, it’s going to be pretty quick to write up. Shout out to the John Edwards and his “hyperlocal news empire,” WedgeLIVE, which has this race as covered as anyone could ask. (Here’s an article on the origins of WedgeLIVE in 2014. If you like my commentary and you live in Ward 10, you should absolutely start following this guy on Twitter, because he’s super-local, heavily focused on Ward 10, and he has a gift for finding the sort of bizarre moments that make local politics so surreal. That gum story made the international news, apparently — I mean, down in the “weird random shit that happened this week among those wacky Americans” tidbits — and he was the first to report it.)
On the ballot:
This is one of those races where my opinion seems to be out of step with the opinion of a lot of people I respect and generally think of as sensible, and I’m honestly not sure if they simply have a different attitude about what constitutes a deal breaker, or if they missed the news story about Alondra Cano doxing a bunch of her constituents, or if there’s some EVEN WORSE story out there about Gary Schiff and Mohamed Farah and I just missed it?
On the ballot:
Ward 8 is currently represented by Elizabeth Glidden, but she decided not to run again. On the ballot:
This is the sort of straightforward race that’s almost as easy to write about as an uncontested seat. Vote for Andrea Jenkins! A long-time policy aide to Glidden, Andrea is sufficiently popular and beloved that despite the open seat, she was unopposed for endorsement.
If you want my full rundown, it’s below the cut.
There are ten candidates on the ballot; here are the five that are doing enough fundraising and campaigning that they’re widely viewed as viable:
The St. Paul ballot, unlike the Minneapolis ballot, doesn’t list party affiliations. Elizabeth Dickinson is a Green; the other four are all DFLers.
There are ten candidates on the St. Paul ballot. I’m going to break them into two groups: the people who might conceivably win the mayoral race and the people who are absolutely not going to win, so you don’t need to read about them unless you’re really just here for the snark, anyway.
On the ballot with at least some chance of winning:
(Elizabeth Dickinson and Tom Goldstein don’t have a very high chance of winning, but if you were holding a mayoral candidate forum you’d probably invite them.)
On the ballot for some reason or other:
And because this is St. Paul, everyone gets six slots. You can rank more than half of these people, which, let’s face it, is more slots than most of us are going to have any use for. I said this over on the ranked-choice post and I’ll say it again: figure out who your first, second, and third choices are among Dai Thao, Pat Harris, and Melvin Carter. If there’s any of those three that you do not want to see as mayor, you will in fact want to make sure the other two are on your ballot.
I’m going to start by talking about the five non-leading candidates. I’ll come back to the five leading candidates tomorrow in a separate post.
Lisa Goodman has been on the council as long as Barb Johnson, and is such a staunch ally that their names tend to run together in a whole lot of articles. She represents what the city website refers to as “beautiful, stable, in-demand residential neighborhoods like Kenwood, Lowry Hill, Cedar-Isles-Dean, and Bryn Mawr.” If you’re reading from out of town and thinking, “oh, is that where the rich people live?” that would be a YES. (They are rich Democrats, however.) Lisa also represents part of downtown and the Loring Park neighborhood.
Lisa is kind of a mixed bag. There’s stuff she’s done that I genuinely like and approve of; there’s stuff she’s done that’s unfortunate; there’s stuff that’s just gross, like “WTF WHY” levels of gross. (LIKE THE GUM THING.)
On the ballot:
No candidate received DFL endorsement.
I went to a Melvin Carter meet-and-greet this afternoon (more on that later, when I write about the St. Paul mayoral race). During some Q&A someone asked how to most effectively use IRV to vote for Melvin, like who should they put in second place?
The host of the event said, “you should vote Melvin first, second, and third!”
Noooooooooooooooooooooooooo. Don’t do this! It won’t help! It won’t hurt your favorite candidate, but you’re giving up your opportunity at a second choice. It’s the same as leaving your 2nd and 3rd (and 4th, 5th, and 6th) choices blank.
“As long as you vote for me first,” Melvin said, “you can put whoever you want in that second slot. And if enough people rank me first, it won’t ever matter!”
“But what if we put Pat Harris in the second slot,” someone asked, “and you have 48% and Pat Harris has 47%…”
“If you visit the FairVote Minnesota site,” I said, “there are videos explaining this.” Because for real, the middle of a candidate meet-and-greet is not a great place to do IRV 101, and it is way easier to understand with visual aids.
Here’s a video. Here’s another video, this one from MPR. (Here’s an explanation without video but apparently it’s on how races work when you’ve got 3 seats to fill instead of just 1. I don’t think St. Paul has any elections where we do that, because — like Minneapolis — we can’t use IRV for school board races, and unlike Minneapolis, we don’t elect our Park Board.)
This was a meet-and-greet in Mac-Groveland. I’m pretty sure the vast majority of people in that room were college-educated; a bunch probably had advanced degrees. But even though ranked-choice voting was implemented in St. Paul during the last election cycle, it wasn’t a competitive race and hardly anyone was paying much attention.
And this is unfortunate, because I think the IRV supporters feel like it’s old news in St. Paul and the aggressive education they did a few years ago was probably sufficient. I’m here to tell you that you need to act as the city is using it for the first time, because there are an awful lot of voters who are using it for the first time.
If you’re voting in St. Paul, and thinking about candidates and how to rank them, a couple of important points.
- We get to rank six candidates. Minneapolis only ranks three. We get six slots. You do not have to use all six if you don’t want to.
- It does not hurt your first-choice candidate if you list your second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth choices. Those only come into play if your first-choice candidate gets dropped from the ballot.
- There are not actually six seriously viable candidates, so don’t sweat six choices. The next mayor of St. Paul is going to be Melvin Carter, Pat Harris, or Dai Thao. If you’re short of time, worry about how to rank those three and don’t worry about where Barnabas Y’shua or Sharon Anderson would fall on your ballot (my advice: not on it at all). Dickinson and Goldstein have at least some chance, and if you totally love Dickinson, by all means list her first, part of the point of IRV is that you can vote your heart! And I’ll be writing about all ten. But in point of fact, it’s going to be Carter, Harris, or Thao, so figure out how you rank those three and then do it. If you adore Melvin Carter but prefer Harris to Thao, then rank Harris second, it will not hurt Melvin Carter in any way.)
But also, if you have not used this system and are not sure how it works, go watch one of the videos! And share it with your friends! These videos were everywhere four years ago when Minneapolis was (effectively) doing this for the first time. And it is a system that is much easier to understand with a visual aid.