Elections 2018: Saint Paul Ward 4 City Council, SPECIAL ELECTION AUGUST 14

Do you live in Saint Paul Ward 4? Then on August 14th, in addition to having a bunch of primaries, you also have an actual real election. That’s right, your City Council race is not a primary. (We have Instant Runoff Voting in St. Paul city races, so primaries in those are not a thing.)

On your ballot, and you can rank them in order of preference:

Mitra Jalali Nelson
Shirley Erstad
David Martinez

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Election 2018: Hennepin County Commissioner, District 4

Peter McLaughlin has been the District 4 Hennepin County Commissioner for approximately forever. (Okay, found it: since 1991. I was starting college in 1991 and didn’t move to Minneapolis until 1995.)

I have a long-running sense of not liking him very much, although in part this is because he was a close ally of Sharon Sayles Belton, who I didn’t like (I really disliked the projects the city undertook during her administration), although she got replaced by RT Rybak seventeen years ago now, so this is a somewhat outdated grudge.

My main ongoing grudge against Peter McLaughlin is that he is a big fan of spending public money on sports facilities. He helped pass a county-wide tax to build the Twins ballpark, and to circumvent the law saying they were supposed to hold a referendum on it. He was less enthusiastic about the county funding the Vikings Stadium, but had this hilarious/infuriating line about why referendums were bad:

A referendum “doesn’t make a bad idea any better,” said Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin, who voted for Target Field but dislikes the Vikings stadium proposal. “I don’t believe in government by referendum. It lets elected officials off the hook for making judgments about these things.”

The point of a referendum isn’t to make “bad ideas better,” it’s to make it possible for people to shoot down the plan of spending their money on sports facilities. It’s not like Minneapolis voters shoot down every referendum that comes their way; they faithfully pass school-levy referendums. People want referendums on sports facilities because it appears to be the only possible way to keep politicians from cramming them down our throats over and over and over.

More recently, he tried to swing a deal for the soccer stadium whereby the “excess capacity” of the Target Field sales tax would go to pay for the soccer stadium, instead. What that means: currently, there is a 0.15% sales tax collected in Hennepin County. Out of that money, $5 million/year goes to libraries, youth and sports programs, and long-term ballpark maintenance. The rest goes to pay off the $350 million in bonds that were sold to fund the construction of Target Field. At the moment, that tax is collecting quite a bit more than they’d expected, allowing the county to pay off the debt early. (They’d planned on a 30-year repayment plan, and they’re going to be done in 20 years. At which point the tax is supposed to just end.)

I mean, there are a couple of ways to look at this. I tend to think, “no, you assholes, pay off the motherfucking debt and dump the tax we never agreed to.” It’s not entirely unreasonable to say, “hey, we’ve planned for that thirty-year term, so let’s just take the extra money and spend it on civic improvements,” but I don’t then say, “…like yet another sports facility!!!!” 

As it happens, that plan fell through and the stadium was built in St. Paul.

On the plus side, Peter is a big fan of bike paths and transit. I am also a fan of bike paths and transit, and I particularly love the Greenway, which he was one of the movers-and-shakers for.

But this is the first time in years that Peter has had any sorts of real opponent; last time, the only person running against him was Captain Jack Sparrow. So I’m excited at the possibility of someone who likes bike paths and transit, and is not and endless booster of circumventing laws about referendums to build sports stadiums. (If you’re a sports stadiums kind of voter, Peter’s your guy, but one of the bizarre things about the whole “yeah, let’s spent a gazillion dollars building yet another sportsball palace!” thing is that public sentiment runs so strongly against these projects!)

Here’s who’s on the ballot:

Peter McLaughlin
Angela Conley
Megan Kuhl-Stennes

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Election 2018: Hennepin County Sheriff

One of those small silver linings to the hurricane of storm clouds that is the current presidential administration: a lot more Hennepin County residents realized in the last year what a flaming dick Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek is.

In 2016, he sent deputies out to North Dakota to the Dakota Access Pipeline protests. He notifies ICE when foreign-born people get booked into the jail.  He’s a Trump fan and lackey.

I’m not sure if it’s fair to blame him for the fact that his son downloaded child porn on a cell phone connected to the Stanek campaign.

In his favor, he punched a Nazi sympathizer while in Reno. I mean, credit where credit is due.

But it’s not like Stanek being an asshole is new news. (Here’s what I wrote about him in 2014 — the quick summary involves use of the n-word, a road-rage incident where he beat up another driver, and an arrest of someone for being on a public sidewalk because she’s previously annoyed him. That road rage incident was back in 1989, but I’m struck by the fact that he got into another fist fight in March, which suggests he’s still got a volatile temper, even if the March dude, as noted above, probably deserved to be punched a few more times.)

Here’s who’s on the primary ballot:

Dave Hutch
Rich Stanek
Joseph Banks

Joseph Banks is hard to Google because he shares a name with a fancy menswear store. He appears to be a decent guy with law-enforcement experience who wouldn’t be Rich Stanek, but he hasn’t gotten a ton of traction.

Dave Hutch (also a decent guy with law-enforcement experience who isn’t Rich Stanek) has the DFL endorsement; I think he’s (maybe) got a shot at beating Stanek, if people actually vote in this race:

The fact is, only about 347,000 people voted in the 2014 sheriff’s race. Stanek snagged 68 percent of those votes. This was after the majority of Stanek’s own deputies endorsed his opponent, Eddie Frizell.

The rub: About 714,000 people were registered to vote at 7 a.m. that morning.

In Hennepin County in 2016, 429,288 people voted for Hillary Clinton; 191,770 voted for Donald Trump. Even with the suburbs, Hennepin County swings very, very blue. But most people, even the ones who vote in the midterms, don’t vote in this race.

One note: I think his name is actually Dave Hutchinson? So on the ballot he might be Dave Hutch, Dave Hutchinson, or Dave “Hutch” Hutchinson, which was probably what he was going for when he filled out the forms.

Vote for Dave Hutch in the primary, and talk to your friends about voting for him, too (especially once he gets past the primary, talk to them about voting for him in the general). Tell them why they shouldn’t vote for Stanek, and why they should vote for Hutch. There are thousands of people in Minneapolis who’d vote for Stanek’s opponent if they knew more about Stanek; maybe enough to swing this race.

 

 

 

Elections 2018: DFL Gubernatorial Primary

This is definitely the race that people in my circle are the most undecided about. They’re not waffling over whether to go for Ole Savior, just to be clear: it’s basically a Walz vs. Murphy debate. And a lot of people are really undecided:

SUPER WITH YOU THERE, DAVID.

Here’s who’s on the ballot:

Erin Murphy and Erin Maye-Quade
Lori Swanson and Rick Nolan
Tim Walz and Peggy Flanagan
Tim Holden and James P. Mellin II
Olé Savior and Chris Edman

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Elections 2018: Attorney General

EDITED TO ADD: Looking for an alternative to Keith Ellison in light of the domestic abuse allegations? My recommendation would be Mike Rothman: he seems solid and competent, and the lawyers who’ve worked with him all seem to like him. Debra Hilstrom has close ties to Lori Swanson, which is even less appealing now than it was when I wrote this post last month; Matt Pelikan still has a resume I’d consider thin even for a seat in the legislature; and Tom Foley’s defamation lawsuit against WCCO really ticks me off. Mike Rothman looks fine to me, and I’m probably going to vote for him on Tuesday.

Here’s the post I originally wrote about this race:

This is a statewide race. Thanks in part to our ongoing national nightmare, I think people are more aware now than they were for a while that this is an extremely important job.

I’ve never been a fan of Lori Swanson. She was a Mike Hatch protege, and I really didn’t like Mike Hatch. When I saw Pelikan was challenging Swanson for the endorsement, at my SD convention, I grabbed one of his stickers and slapped it on, although there was no “uncommitted for governor, Pelikan for AG” walking subcaucus to join so I thought this was probably pretty quixotic. At the state convention, Pelikan got enough votes to prevent a first-ballot endorsement of Swanson — it was 52% Swanson, 48% (I assume) Pelikan — at which point Swanson dropped out of the race entirely and announced she was running for governor, instead. The convention endorsed Pelikan, and then a bunch of other people, starting with Keith Ellison, jumped into the AG race.

What a year. Anyway, here’s who’s on the ballot:

Mike Rothman
Debra Hilstrom
Matt Pelikan
Tom Foley
Keith Ellison

All five of these people are qualified, legitimate candidates. All of them are lawyers, all of them have relevant experience, none of them are actually Republicans and none of them are loons. (Sharon Anderson is running in the Republican primary, and don’t count her out, she beat Charlie Weaver in the GOP primary back in 1994 and was the Republican AG candidate on the general election ballot.)

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Election 2018: Ramsey County Judge, Court 28

Oh good, an easy one.

Here’s who’s running:

Elena L. Ostby (Incumbent)
Seamus R. Mahoney
Calandra Revering

I see no particular reason to get rid of Ostby. Mahoney’s web page is his attorney web site, with nothing explaining his interest in or qualifications for a judgeship. Calandra Revering apparently had her license to practice law suspended at some point. (You can read a little bit more about her here.)

Anyway, I’m going to vote for Ostby.

Election 2018: Ramsey County Judge, Court 20

There are three people running:

G. Tony Atwal (incumbent)
Elliott Nickell
P. Paul Yang

There’s basically one question in this race, or maybe two.

  • Does a DUI — and also pulling the “I’m a judge, officer, maybe just let me walk home?” card — disqualify someone from serving as a judge?
  • Even if you otherwise really like them?

(Editing to add: turns out there are some additional questions!)

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