Election 2022: Sample Ballot/Index of Posts

Hello to a bunch of people looking up this site on their phone from a voting booth! Here are links to (hopefully) all my posts about this year’s races. (If you scroll and don’t find what you want, try a search, but remember, I only write about races that appear on the ballot in Minneapolis and Saint Paul. I did write a post about how to research a race, though.)

ETA: Someone was inspired to do similar research for city races in Lakeville, Credit River, Apple Valley, Eagan, Burnsville, Chaska, Eden Prairie, and Bloomington, with a bit of miscellany for St. Cloud, Maplewood, Robbinsdale, Maple Grove, Osseo, and Wayzata — find those writeups (not mine, but using a similar approach) at https://candidatenotes.com/

STATEWIDE

Governor & Lieutenant Governor: Tim Walz and Peggy Flanagan

Secretary of State: Steve Simon

State Auditor: Julie Blaha

Attorney General: Keith Ellison

JUDICIAL

There are no contested judicial races anywhere in either Hennepin County or Ramsey County.

MINNEAPOLIS AND HENNEPIN COUNTY RACES

US Representative District 5: Ilhan Omar

All State Senate districts: the DFLer

All State House districts: the DFLer

Hennepin County Commissioner District 2: Irene Fernando, but I did not write about this one because it’s uncontested.

Hennepin County Commissioner District 3: Marion Greene

Hennepin County Commissioner District 4: Angela Conley, but I did not write about this one because it’s uncontested.

Hennepin County Sheriff: Dawanna Witt

Hennepin County Attorney: Mary Moriarty

School Board Member at Large (SSD #1) (elect two): Collin Beachy and Sonya Emerick, but if you haven’t been following this race you should probably read my post to see if you agree with me; Sonya was my most controversial endorsement this year by far.

School Board Member District 1 (SSD #1): Abdul Abdi, but I did not write about this one because it’s uncontested.

School Board Member District 3 (SSD #1): Fathia Feerayarre, but I did not write about this one because it’s uncontested.

School Board Member District 5 (SSD #1): Lori Norvelle

SAINT PAUL AND RAMSEY COUNTY RACES

US Representative District 4: Betty McCollum

All State Senate districts: the DFLer

All State House districts: the DFLer

Ramsey County Commissioner District 3: Trista MatasCastillo

Ramsey County Commissioner District 4: Rena Moran

Ramsey County Commissioner District 5: Rafael Ortega

Ramsey County Commissioner District 6: Mai Chong Xiong

County Attorney: John Choi, but I did not write about this one because it’s uncontested

County Sheriff: I did not write about this one because it’s uncontested.


In addition to writing political commentary, I write science fiction and fantasy. My book that came out in April 2021, Chaos on CatNet, takes place in a future Minneapolis. It’s a sequel to Catfishing on CatNet and signed copies of both books are usually available from Dreamhaven and the NOW REOPENED Uncle Hugo’s (it’s at 2716 E 31st St in Minneapolis, in the former Glass Endeavors.)

I do not have a tip jar or a Patreon; instead, I highlight fundraisers. Three places you can donate this year: there is a science teacher at Sullivan STEAM magnet who needs some better computers so his students can actually program the cool robots they got. (This fundraiser is a long way from funding, so I want to note, DonorsChoose isn’t like Kickstarter, they’ll work with teachers and donors to come up with a good use of the donations if it only gets halfway there.) You can also donate to the Theater program at Henry High School in Minneapolis. Or, you can donate to the Movement Voter fundraiser I created; I explained back in May why I’m fundraising for the Movement Voter PAC and the fundraiser is still active.

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How to Research a Local Political Race

Back in 2014, I wrote a post with the title “Methodology” that talked some about how I research races with an eye towards helping people trying to figure out where to dig and what questions to ask. I think it’s probably time to update that post, so below you will find my advice (hopefully suitable for people all over the country) on how to figure out who you want to vote for in a local election.

Local races are incredibly important. People tend to focus on national races, and while those sure are important, your local representatives often affect your day-to-day quality of life in much more tangible ways. Local elected officials make decisions that affect library hours, school curricula, snowplowing, zoning rules, pothole repair. Pay attention to these races! Learn about who’s running, vote all the way down the ballot, and encourage your friends to do the same.

1. Get a list of the races and candidates who will be on the ballot.

In Minnesota, you can do this via the Secretary of State’s “Find My Ballot” page. If you don’t live in Minnesota, try searching “find my ballot” and your state to see if you have something similar.

2. Look up candidate websites.

When MN candidates file, they have the option of writing down a URL, and if they do that, there may be a link right on the page that comes up on the Secretary of State’s site. If there’s no link, or the link leads to a nonexistent website, try searching the candidate name + the office, or the candidate name + your town. Sometimes people running for a minor office will use a Facebook page as their campaign page.

Take a look at the websites you find. In particular, look for the following:

  • Endorsements. If one’s endorsed by the Republicans and one by the Democrats, that may be all you need to know.
  • Experience. Not always required for a low-level office, but I like candidates who’ve at least shown some interest in local governance before running — maybe by serving on a city or county committee, fundraising for the library, etc.
  • Accomplishments, if this is someone running for re-election. Do you like the things they claim credit for? Do you think they’ve done good work?
  • Big red flags. Racist and antisemitic dogwhistles, repeating gross urban legends, a school board candidate who puts a lot of emphasis on “parental rights,” anti-vax stuff.
  • Small red flags. Candidates who just don’t seem to know anything about the issues. Candidates who repeatedly say “WE THE PEOPLE” in all-capital letters or use a lot of patriotic stock art.

Other useful things you’ll often find on candidate websites: a bio (which will give you information about past experiences that might be applicable to them serving in the job); links to their social media; some information on contacting the candidate (very useful if you have follow-up questions)

3. Look at other information online.

If you search online for both candidate names, sometimes you’ll find questionnaires from newspapers or organizations. These can provide you with a bunch of side-by-side information to compare.

Searching for the candidate name + location sometimes turns up other details about a candidate, from old news articles to lawsuits. Sometimes this is helpful, sometimes it’s useless.

If you go to your library’s public information databases, you can often use your library card to search your local newspaper. This can turn up information about all kinds of things — old letters to the editor, news articles about scandals from years past, arrests.

If you look on Facebook, sometimes you can find a candidate’s personal Facebook page. Some candidates lock those down or sanitize them heavily, but if they don’t, you can learn a lot about a person from the memes they re-share.

If you look on LinkedIn, often you can find someone’s professional resume, and that can be extremely helpful to sort out what some of the stuff in their bio means. Lots of people will call themselves “educators” and sometimes that means they worked as a professional teacher in a public school and other times it means something that is absolutely not that.

4. Look for candidate forums.

There may be community forums where the candidates are invited to show up and answer questions. Sometimes you have to actually go, but usually these days forums are recorded and posted online later for people to view.

5. Talk to door-knockers.

Depending on the size of the race, you might get door-knocked by the candidate and be able to ask whatever questions you have. More often door-knockers are volunteers. My standard questions for people who volunteer on behalf of a candidate is, “can you tell me what you like about [candidate]? You are giving up your free time to do work for them — what about them inspired you to do that?” This is a question almost everyone can answer, and the answers can be revealing.

6. Contact the candidates.

Most candidates provide information on how to contact them — either an e-mail address or a phone number. If you contact a candidate, I would strongly encourage you to pick one question to focus on. If it’s a list of a dozen questions, they will think, “I don’t have time to do this right now — I’ll set it aside for later” and then they’ll forget. If it’s a complicated question and you send an e-mail, you may also have better luck if you tell them you’d be happy to talk on the phone.

Regardless of the question, if you send an e-mail, many candidates will ask if they can call you. Partly this is because they want to start by asking you a little about yourself. There are some good reasons for this: a lot of issues provoke related but varying concerns and they want to know where to focus their answer. They also want to demonstrate to you that they are a good listener and that they empathize with your struggles.

7. Talk to your friends and neighbors.

One of the things about local races is that a lot of people struggle to find information about them. So if you have done some research, reaching out to other people voting in your area is not pushing your politics on people, it is a generous public service. “It can be hard to find information on the Dogcatcher race, so since I did a bunch of digging, I wanted to share what I found!”

You can also reach out for information. Ask your neighbors if they know anything about the people running. (If they don’t, you can circle back with information you find.)

8. Do not feel like you need to research every possible aspect of every candidate on your ballot.

There are a lot of options here and I cannot emphasize enough that you do not need to go dig up everyone’s LinkedIn resume to be an informed voter! My first step is always to look at party endorsements. If there’s a Republican and a Democrat, that’s all I really need to know. If there’s an incumbent candidate who hasn’t been at the center of a scandal, who’s endorsed by people you like, and their opponent on the ballot has no website? You have done your due diligence! It’s fine! You can vote for the person who sounds OK vs. the person who doesn’t care enough about the race to make information easy for voters to find. Life is short: if Candidate A has a well-organized website that describes sensible goals you approve of and Candidate B’s website has a giant animated gif of a waving US flag and zero policy ideas, you do not have to watch the forum unless you want to.

It’s good to be an informed voter. But all of us make these choices with incomplete information and that is also okay. “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good” is good advice in a lot of situations — including voting using the information you have to select the best candidate.


My name is Naomi Kritzer and I’m a SF/F writer and an opinionated person with a blog. Since sometime in the early 2000s, I’ve been researching local races (first in Minneapolis, later in both Minneapolis and St. Paul) and sharing the information I find with my community. If you do the same in your own community, you may find this very time consuming but people really do find it super useful! You can find more about my novels here.

Election 2022: US House 04 and 05

I’m just going to put these in one post. I think these are the last contested races I hadn’t written about? (Note: I only write about races that appear on the ballots in Minneapolis and St. Paul, so if you’re trying to find information on the congressional races in 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, or 8, you won’t find details here other than “obviously you should VOTE FOR THE DEMOCRAT.” I also don’t write about uncontested races.) If I’ve forgotten a race, you can leave a comment and I’ll try to get to it. In the meantime — I’m going to try to do some doorknocking this weekend and would strongly encourage my fellow DFL voters to find a way to volunteer, whether that’s doorknocking, text-banking, phone-banking, or GOTV catfishing (look, I’m not going to judge).

In Minneapolis/congressional district 5, we have:

Ilhan Omar (DFL)
Cicely Davis (Republican)

Ilhan Omar is hardworking, fiery, and a member of “the Squad.” Cicely David has a website that manages to be both frequently illegible and mostly content-free, and she spends a lot of time trying to present herself as super moderate while ignoring all questions about her position on abortion. Vote for Ilhan Omar.

In St. Paul/congressional district 4, we have:

Betty McCollum (DFL)
May Lor Xiong (Republican)

Betty McCollum is hardworking, reliable, and from what Paul Wellstone used to call “the Democratic wing of the Democratic party.” May Lor Xiong scaremongers on her website about “open borders.” Per a comment to MPR, she apparently thinks the Mexican border should be closed to immigrants. She’s also opposed to the Green New Deal and the ACA and has scrupulously avoided all public comment on abortion but she’s endorsed by the MCCL. May Lor Xiong is not even doing a very good job at the “pretending not to be a right-wing extremist” thing, and I am absolutely voting for Betty McCollum.


So a week or two back, it looked like WordPress had deleted most of my subscribers? But now it’s back to saying I have 10,143 instead of 473. But if you rely on e-mail to notify you I’ve posted, and this is the first post you’ve seen this year, you should know I’ve posted a bunch of other posts! Also, if you’re not a subscriber, plugging in your e-mail in the subscriber box (you may have to do this on desktop rather than phone) will get you an e-mail every time I post. That might not sound appealing, but if it does, now you know.

If you’d like to make a donation to encourage me to keep working on these, I am highlighting a science teacher at Sullivan STEAM magnet who needs some better computers so his students can actually program the cool robots they got. Or, you can donate to the Movement Voter fundraiser I created; I explained back in May why I’m fundraising for the Movement Voter PAC and the fundraiser is still active. You could also get out this weekend and do some GOTV volunteering. Drop me a comment if you do and want to tell me.

In addition to writing political commentary, I write science fiction and fantasy. My book that came out in April 2021, Chaos on CatNet, takes place in a future Minneapolis. It’s a sequel to Catfishing on CatNet and signed copies of both books are usually available from Dreamhaven and the NOW REOPENED Uncle Hugo’s (it’s at 2716 E 31st St in Minneapolis, in the former Glass Endeavors.)

Election 2022: Minnesota State Auditor

For State Auditor, I’m going to make a very specific plea: even if you hate Julie Blaha (I don’t know why you would, but if you do), do not vote for the weed party candidates.

On the ballot:

Julie Blaha (DFL)
Ryan Wilson (Republican)
Will Finn (Grassroots – Legalize Cannabis)
Tim Davis (Legal Marijuana Now)

Julie Blaha (DFL)

The State Auditor audits the spending of county and municipal governments. They have a page explaining what they do and also a FAQ that explains who’s responsible for various kinds of oversight that are outside their domain.

Julie Blaha is the only person running for the job who understands what the job even is. That alone is a reason to vote for her!

Ryan Wilson (Republican)

This is one of the handful of offices where I have at any point in my life voted for a Republican (I voted for Judi Dutcher, probably in 1998. I mean, she switched to the DFL a few years later, retroactively justifying my positive feelings about her). It’s not necessarily a particularly partisan job because “waste and graft” are at least in theory something both parties are supposed to be against. However, at this point, most of the Republican party has embraced lies, fascism, election theft, and science denial, and I have no reason to believe that Ryan Wilson is any better than the rest of his party.

Ryan Wilson wants to audit the schools. The problem here is that my full expectation of any Republican auditing schools at this point is that they’d declare social-emotional learning, sex ed, and any history they disliked to be “waste.”

Will Finn (Grassroots – Legalize Cannabis)

Will Finn’s actual name is Kevin Finander, but he’s running as Will Finn because that’s “how the Libertarians and pro-weed folks know me.” He runs something called the “Taxation is Theft” political action committee. The Grassroots party repudiates him along with everyone other than their 1st Congressional District candidate who’s on the ballot as a Grassroots party candidate. Hilariously, Will’s link goes to a Linktree page that links to the Grassroots Party page saying he’s not a valid candidate, which honestly says about all you need to know about both the Grassroots Party, and Will Finn. They’re a bunch of clowns and no one should vote for any of their candidates in the hopes that they’ll drop back into well-earned obscurity.

In 2018, both weed parties had a bunch of candidates on the ballot who were Republicans filing entirely in an attempt to act as spoilers. This worked, and the main reason we didn’t get the DFL’s really good marijuana legalization bill was that they didn’t have a majority in the Senate due to a handful of seats with these fake weed party candidates who sucked off just enough votes to give those seats to the Republicans. Oliver Steinberg, the party chair, engaged in a bunch of breast-beating about how he was going to try to make sure this didn’t happen again. This year, the treasurer of the Grassroots party, Marcus Harcus, tried to change the party name to Marijuana Advocates with Governing Aspirations, MAGA, in an attempt to siphon votes the other way. This got foiled by Oliver Steinberg.

Tim Davis (Legal Marijuana Now)

Tim Davis at least has a website. He lists four issues: (1) Drug Legalization; (2) Alternative Energy & Resources; (3) Population Reduction; and (4) Right to Die.

The State Auditor’s office has nothing at all to do with three of those things. Alternative energy, they oversee some public pension funds and Ryan Wilson has criticized Julie Blaha for disinvesting from coal; Tim Davis gives absolutely no indication that he’s talking about pension funds here, and I literally think he just doesn’t know what the auditor actually does.

Also, I’m just going to note, seeing “population reduction” and “right to die” back to back is chilling, and it does not help that he provides zero explanation of what policies he’d actually advocate for.

The Legal Marijuana Now folks managed to really impress me in 2020 by offering up Oliver Steinberg’s criminal record when I asked what their US Senate candidate stood for. The LMN party stands for even less than the Grassroots party; they literally just want to continue to be a major party so they can keep acting as a spoiler.

So yeah: vote for Julie Blaha. If you hate Julie Blaha for some reason (maybe she beat you in the Crop Art competition at the State Fair and you hold a grudge?) write in your favorite person who you think would make a terrific State Auditor. Do not vote for the weed candidates. Tell your friends not to vote for the weed candidates. The weed parties have done absolutely nothing useful or helpful with their major party status. They do not need to be providing an endless parade of actual Republicans with a second slot on the ballot.


So a week or two back, it looked like WordPress had deleted most of my subscribers? But now it’s back to saying I have 10,143 instead of 473. But if you rely on e-mail to notify you I’ve posted, and this is the first post you’ve seen this year, you should know I’ve posted a bunch of other posts! Also, if you’re not a subscriber, plugging in your e-mail in the subscriber box (you may have to do this on desktop rather than phone) will get you an e-mail every time I post. That might not sound appealing, but if it does, now you know.

If you’d like to make a donation to encourage me to keep working on these, I am highlighting a science teacher at Sullivan STEAM magnet who needs some better computers so his students can actually program the cool robots they got. Or, you can donate to the Movement Voter fundraiser I created; I explained back in May why I’m fundraising for the Movement Voter PAC and the fundraiser is still active.

In addition to writing political commentary, I write science fiction and fantasy. My book that came out in April 2021, Chaos on CatNet, takes place in a future Minneapolis. It’s a sequel to Catfishing on CatNet and signed copies of both books are usually available from Dreamhaven and the NOW REOPENED Uncle Hugo’s (it’s at 2716 E 31st St in Minneapolis, in the former Glass Endeavors.)

Election 2022: Hennepin County Commissioner, District 3

There are a number of contested County Commissioner races in both Ramsey County and Hennepin County this year. This is a Hennepin County post.

There are two candidates on the ballot:

Marion Greene (Incumbent, DFL-endorsed)
Ashley Boldin

Marion Greene has been on the Hennepin County Board since 2014. She was unopposed for endorsement at the DFL convention this spring and sailed through (and has endorsed Mary Moriarty, I saw when I went looking for whether she’d had any challengers for endorsement). Her accomplishments page is impressive. Ashley Boldin uses a lot of buzzwords, has no endorsements that I could find, and hasn’t posted on her social media since early September.

I would vote for Marion Greene.


So a week or two back, it looked like WordPress had deleted most of my subscribers? But now it’s back to saying I have 10,143 instead of 473. But if you rely on e-mail to notify you I’ve posted, and this is the first post you’ve seen this year, you should know I’ve posted a bunch of other posts! Also, if you’re not a subscriber, plugging in your e-mail in the subscriber box (you may have to do this on desktop rather than phone) will get you an e-mail every time I post. That might not sound appealing, but if it does, now you know.

If you’d like to make a donation to encourage me to keep working on these, I am highlighting a science teacher at Sullivan STEAM magnet who needs some better computers so his students can actually program the cool robots they got. Or, you can donate to the Movement Voter fundraiser I created; I explained back in May why I’m fundraising for the Movement Voter PAC and the fundraiser is still active.

In addition to writing political commentary, I write science fiction and fantasy. My book that came out in April 2021, Chaos on CatNet, takes place in a future Minneapolis. It’s a sequel to Catfishing on CatNet and signed copies of both books are usually available from Dreamhaven and the NOW REOPENED Uncle Hugo’s (it’s at 2716 E 31st St in Minneapolis, in the former Glass Endeavors.)

Election 2022: Judicial Races

Unless I’ve missed something, there is not a single contested judicial race on either Hennepin County or Ramsey County ballots.

Is this bad? No. It’s fine. Being a judge is mostly a job where you sign off on agreements of various kinds, or listen to a bunch of people who are having probably the worst day of their lives. There are judges who are better than others, but most of the time, incumbent judges only get challenged because (a) somebody who probably should not have the job wants it (like Michelle MacDonald), or (b) they really screwed up in a way you’ll probably find if you search their name (like the judge in Ramsey County who drove drunk in 2018.) Michelle MacDonald is currently disbarred and while there are judges who did stuff that pissed people off, none of them made their peers mad enough that someone’s running against them.

Okay so what do I do with these races? You can check off the incumbents’ names if you want, or some subset of incumbents’ names (someone told me yesterday she was going to vote to re-elect all the judges who weren’t originally nominated by Pawlenty, that’s fine but you’ll have to go create your own list), or you can leave them blank. It does not matter, because it’s rare an incumbent judge loses even if they have an opponent on the ballot, and it’s really unlikely to happen if the opponent is a write-in. Someone would have to be fundraising for a gazillion mailers and billboards and so on. You would probably have heard.

What do you do with these races? If I’m not in a huge hurry, I usually fill in the dots by all the incumbents’ names because I am the sort of person who wants to fill in all the dots.

Can I write someone in? Of course, but FYI, in addition to the fact that they won’t win, they cannot serve if they are over 70 or under 21 and they must be a licensed attorney to serve as a judge. (Although they won’t win, so feel free to write in whoever strikes your fancy. This really does not matter.)

I’m in some other county and I have a contested race. How am I supposed to know who to vote for? My recommendation is that you look at both websites and google the name of the incumbent judge to see what comes up (a drunk driving arrest? a really shoddy job at a high-profile trial? or nothing at all?) If the challenger just links to a law firm site (that’s weirdly common) that suggests to me that they view the filing fee as cheap advertising and are not seriously running. If you find nothing in particular about the incumbent judge, I would vote for the incumbent judge. I will note that lawyers nearly always just vote for the incumbent judge.

ETA: My dad, a Political Scientist who’s written a book on judicial selection, looked up the one contested judicial race in Minnesota:

The one contested trial court race is in the First Judicial District which includes some suburban counties; the counties in the district are Carver, Dakota, Goodhue, Le Sueur, McLeod, Scott and Sibley.  See https://www.inforum.com/news/minnesota/over-100-minnesota-judges-are-up-for-election-only-one-race-is-contested,

The incumbent was appointed in 2021 after about three decades of practicing law. There are no issues that have been identified with the incumbent who is being challenged, except that he did not go to law school in Minnesota (https://www.republicaneagle.com/opinion/letters/letter-rare-opportunity/article_eceab28e-56ec-11ed-94b5-3f1831184083.html). The challenger graduated from William Mitchell (another place says Hamline) and passed the bar in 2018. Other than as a student, he has had little, if any, courtroom experience (his website says that he worked with a small firm doing commercial litigation). He’s had three jobs since graduating from law school and it’s not clear what he’s currently doing (https://hansonforjudgemn.com/issues/).

I would absolutely vote for the First Judicial District incumbent. Judge is not a “four years out of law school” kind of job, that letter also says he’ll be an “originalist” (what would that even mean at the district court level? good grief) and “he didn’t go to law school here” is Minnesota at its most absurd.


So a week or two back, it looked like WordPress had deleted most of my subscribers? But now it’s back to saying I have 10,143 instead of 473. But if you rely on e-mail to notify you I’ve posted, and this is the first post you’ve seen this year, you should know I’ve posted a bunch of other posts! Also, if you’re not a subscriber, plugging in your e-mail in the subscriber box (you may have to do this on desktop rather than phone) will get you an e-mail every time I post. That might not sound appealing, but if it does, now you know.

If you’d like to make a donation to encourage me to keep working on these, I am highlighting a science teacher at Sullivan STEAM magnet who needs some better computers so his students can actually program the cool robots they got. Or, you can donate to the Movement Voter fundraiser I created; I explained back in May why I’m fundraising for the Movement Voter PAC and the fundraiser is still active.

In addition to writing political commentary, I write science fiction and fantasy. My book that came out in April 2021, Chaos on CatNet, takes place in a future Minneapolis. It’s a sequel to Catfishing on CatNet and signed copies of both books are usually available from Dreamhaven and the NOW REOPENED Uncle Hugo’s (it’s at 2716 E 31st St in Minneapolis, in the former Glass Endeavors.)

Election 2022: Minneapolis School Board, District 5

Confusingly, all the school districts in the state have district numbers (Minneapolis is District 1) but also Minneapolis is split into 6 geographical areas for Park Board and School District seats. This seat is on some ballots in South Minneapolis but not others. This was made extra confusing by redistricting — if you’re uncertain, you can view your sample ballot on the Secretary of State’s site by putting in your zip code and address. This seat is currently held by Nelson Inz, who is not running for re-election.

In District 1, Abdul Abdi is running unopposed. In District 3, Fathia Feerayarre is running unopposed. The School Board reps from Districts 2, 4, and 6 are not on the ballot this year; those seats will be up for election in 2024.

District 5 has two candidates:

Laurelle Myhra
Lori Norvelle

Laurelle Myhra is an Anishinabe woman who directs a wellness clinic; she’s a licensed family therapist and one of her top priorities is “culturally-relevant and trauma-informed education and curriculum.” She is vice chair of the American Indian Parent Advisory Committee.

One hesitation I had about her is that she describes herself as Christian on her first page, and that can be a red flag for anti-trans bigotry specifically. I e-mailed her to ask, and she responded to say, “I do not personally support discrimination of LGBT or any other marginalized group. In fact, I’m seeking endorsement by a LGBT advocacy group.” (I checked her endorsements and I don’t see that one, so I do not think she got it.)

Lori Norvelle was a middle-school math teacher until recently (and then burned out and quit). Prior to being a math teacher, she worked as a special education assistant and a substitute teacher. She’s also an MPS parent and her major priorities could kind of be summed up as “repairing the damage” (technically, that’s her second priority; her first is recruiting and retaining staff, but that’s totally also “repairing the damage,” I think, and her third priority is “reclaiming our success as a district” which on closer inspection of details like “careful research in advance of making decisions and allowing time for feedback,” I’d sum up as “trying not to break anything worse.”) I like these priorities. They make a lot of sense to me.

The thing I find most appealing about Laurelle is that she would bring expertise about trauma and recovery, which would be genuinely useful right now. But in this race, I would go ahead and prioritize experience in the classroom; I think, post-strike, that adding teachers and recent former teachers to the board is potentially a path toward healing. I have been thoroughly persuaded that more people coming from the teachers’ perspective on the Minneapolis school board would be a really good idea. Also, she seems to have a clear idea of where Minneapolis is as a district. I would vote for Lori Norvelle.


So a week or two back, it looked like WordPress had deleted most of my subscribers? But now it’s back to saying I have 10,143 instead of 473. But if you rely on e-mail to notify you I’ve posted, and this is the first post you’ve seen this year, you should know I’ve posted a bunch of other posts! Also, if you’re not a subscriber, plugging in your e-mail in the subscriber box (you may have to do this on desktop rather than phone) will get you an e-mail every time I post. That might not sound appealing, but if it does, now you know.

If you’d like to make a donation to encourage me to keep working on these, I am highlighting a science teacher at Sullivan STEAM magnet who needs some better computers so his students can actually program the cool robots they got. Or, you can donate to the Movement Voter fundraiser I created; I explained back in May why I’m fundraising for the Movement Voter PAC and the fundraiser is still active.

In addition to writing political commentary, I write science fiction and fantasy. My book that came out in April 2021, Chaos on CatNet, takes place in a future Minneapolis. It’s a sequel to Catfishing on CatNet and signed copies of both books are usually available from Dreamhaven and the NOW REOPENED Uncle Hugo’s (it’s at 2716 E 31st St in Minneapolis, in the former Glass Endeavors.)

Election 2022: Minneapolis School Board At-Large

Well, this turned into kind of a clusterfuck of a race. Here’s who’s on the ballot:

KerryJo Felder (DFL-endorsed)
Collin Beachy (DFL-endorsed)
Sonya Emerick
Lisa Skjefte

In the primary, I said I would vote for KerryJo Felder because the school board suffers from chronic lack of institutional memory due to people rarely serving more than one term (KerryJo is not an incumbent, but served one term from 2016-2020) and Sonya Emerick because I was impressed by their responsiveness and thoughtfulness. It turned out that part of why I hadn’t heard back from Collin was because he’d had COVID — and I felt bad about that, but also, it was a primary, the DFL-endorsed candidates can be expected to sail through a primary, and so I was not super worried about it.

Lisa Skjefte has no website, although she has been coming to candidate forums.

I’m going to put a break here and FYI: this is going to get long. If you want to skip straight to who I would vote for: Collin Beachy and Sonya Emerick.

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Election 2022: Hennepin County Attorney

I wrote about the two candidates who made it to the final ballot, Mary Moriarty and Martha Holton Dimick, pretty extensively during the primary. My opinion about the two candidates has not changed significantly, but there have been some developments since then that I wanted to talk about.

On the ballot:

Mary Moriarty
Martha Holton Dimick

Seriously: there’s a lot of information in that July post that I’m not porting over — I thought about it, but I don’t want to bury the new information. There’s just no perfect option here.

One of the bits of news that blew up earlier this month was Martha’s failure to renew her law license. The whole story was really odd. Practicing lawyers are required to have a license, and someone looked up Martha’s and found that her license was not active. Her spokesperson said that this was because she’d de-activated it to save money. Except this makes absolutely no sense: you’ll save $46 in the short term, but then to re-activate (as she’ll need to do if she wins) you have to pay that $46 plus another $125. The lawyer whose Twitter thread I’m linking to there has a couple of theories as to why she might have done this, and the one I think is the most plausible is that she was behind on Continuing Legal Education credits. That’s actually, IMO, sympathetic, and if that was the case she should have just admitted it up front. (Realizing you’re about to have to binge-watch 40 hours of boring webinars or you’ll lose some certification you want to keep: WHOMST AMONG US HAS NOT. I mean, I haven’t, but that is only because I have never had a certification like this.)

Then it came out that she filed for office with an expired card. She says this was an accident and she had a non-expired card at the time but as far as I know, no journalist has asked to see it? or her cards from prior years? Nor has Martha just produced any of them nor has there been any other public followup. I don’t know what to make of this but the whole story is extremely weird. Like the best-case scenario here involves a mix of bad decision-making and extreme flakiness, neither of which seems ideal for a County Attorney.

The other thing I wanted to highlight was covered in this article (a collaboration between Bolts and Mother Jones) about the race. Martha is endorsed by the Police Federation, but during the primary, several other candidates also tried for that endorsement. Paul Ostrow was struck by the questions he was asked at the screening:

Ostrow also sought the endorsement from the MPPOA, but was taken aback that the screening panel—which included the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis—weren’t interested in his ten point plan to improve public safety. Instead, “they were almost exclusively questions about police prosecutions,” he told me. “It was really the only issue that was discussed at that screening.”

Here’s something that really should not be controversial: police prosecutions are profoundly necessary, and I don’t just mean for cold-blooded murders committed in front of multiple cameras, I also mean for the sort of casual everyday brutality that would get anyone else prosecuted for assault. We have got to start holding police officers accountable in a meaningful way. The Police Federation already does everything within its power to prevent the city from firing officers — they also want to be sure Hennepin County continues to have a prosecutor who will not prosecute them.

Mary Moriarty, meanwhile, has promised to create a “do not call” list — a list of police officers who have lied so routinely on the stand that they may no longer be called as witnesses. The fact that this is controversial blows my mind, frankly. Why would you want to call to the stand someone who has repeatedly demonstrated their contempt for the truth? I mean, unless your goal is to have them testify and then charge them with perjury? I’m sorry, is it the defenders of the police who think that it’s unreasonable to expect police officers not to lie on the stand during trials?

Anyway, for these reasons plus all the reasons I cited back in July, I would absolutely vote for Mary Moriarty.

ETA 10/31: On a radio show on WCCO, local defense attorney Joe Friedberg launched into a 20-minute furious rant about how bad Martha was as a prosecutor and as a judge. Worth noting: he’s not especially progressive (he says he’s voted for Republicans, Democrats, and Jesse Ventura) but thinks Mary is just a significantly better lawyer, and although he’s a defense attorney, one of his stories is about Martha kind of giving away the store to a client Joe was defending. (She refused to talk to him, and when the judge finally brought them into chambers, immediately agreed to the lower-than-guidelines sentence he threw out as an opening bid, which given the wildly indefensible case, Joe thought was ridiculous. The whole story is also a really interesting illustration of how lawyers view their “indefensible” clients.) If you’d rather read than listen, David Brauer transcribes some of the rant into a Twitter thread.


So exciting news: apparently WordPress deleted a bunch of my subscribers? If you used to get notifications of new posts by e-mail and now you’re not getting notifications by e-mail, and you would appreciate notifications of new posts by e-mail, please try signing up again. This possibly explains why I’ve been getting a lot less engagement on my posts in general this year, which has been weirdly demoralizing. (I really hope it’s that my subscriber list got screwed up and not that no one’s paying attention to the midterms.)

If you’d like to cheer me up and reassure me that people are reading my work, you could donate to one of the two DonorsChoose projects I’m highlighting. In Minneapolis, I found a science teacher at Sullivan STEAM magnet needs some better computers so his students can actually program the cool robots they got. In St. Paul, I found an English teacher at Harding Senior High who would like snacks for her students. Or, you can donate to the Movement Voter fundraiser I created; I explained back in May why I’m fundraising for the Movement Voter PAC and the fundraiser is still active.

In addition to writing political commentary, I write science fiction and fantasy. My book that came out in April 2021, Chaos on CatNet, takes place in a future Minneapolis. It’s a sequel to Catfishing on CatNet and signed copies of both books are usually available from Dreamhaven and the NOW REOPENED Uncle Hugo’s (it’s at 2716 E 31st St in Minneapolis, in the former Glass Endeavors.)

Election 2022: Hennepin County Sheriff

During the primary, I endorsed Dawanna Witt because she struck me as a lot more likely to be able to beat Jai Hansen, who I really didn’t like. I totally assumed Jai would make it through the primary! He did not. So now the question is — absent that, do I prefer Dawanna Witt, or Joseph Banks? Despite having some doubts about Dawanna, and having taken a somewhat closer look at Joseph Banks … I’m going to say it’s still Dawanna Witt.

On the ballot:

Dawanna Witt
Joseph Banks

Dawanna Witt has worked for the Hennepin County Sheriff’s office, specifically, for a really long time — mainly she runs the jail. Joseph Banks is a retired former chief of police for the Lower Sioux Community and Morton, MN. They both talk about wanting to improve public safety, transparency, and community relationships. They’re both Black, and Dawanna talks about fearing and distrusting police for years before getting an entry-level job working at the jail.

Dawanna is endorsed by the DFL and a lot of other organizations; Joseph Banks, as far as I can tell, doesn’t have any endorsements at all. (ETA: I missed that he was endorsed by the Independence-Alliance Party, aka the Jessecrats. But he doesn’t put that on his website, and given that this group also endorsed Hugh McTavish in the Governor’s race, I’m not reassured that they’re vetting people with any criteria I’d recognize as useful.)

There was a debate earlier this month and I watched the recording of it to see if I could get any better clarity than “look, Dawanna’s at least been vetted by people who know more about this job than I do, and they think she’d be OK.” The debate is online here.

One really interesting exchange took place about an hour in. (It actually starts at 57:15, if you want to watch.) Joseph said, in response to a question about tangible steps toward accountability, “Let’s be clear on this: the Sheriff department is the top cop in the county. […] It is the Sheriff’s responsibility to police the police. It is the Sheriff’s job to make sure that we’re holding law enforcement officers accountable in our county.” When Dawanna got the floor she opened with, “There is no statute that will give you the authority to tell a municipality what to do. That is not your job as a Sheriff.”

This left me really wanting to know — could the Hennepin County Sheriff’s staff go out and investigate and arrest Minneapolis police officers who commit murder or assault or whatever in their line of work? Because that’s not happening right now, but if Joseph were elected and just decided it was part of the Sheriff’s duties, could they? I asked Twitter and did not get a particularly conclusive answer. It’s not written in the statutes but it’s not forbidden by the statutes, and Sheriffs as elected officials (rather than appointed/hired staff) can in some ways kind of do what they want (see, for example, Dave Hutchinson’s refusal to resign despite wrecking a car while drunk off his ass). Also — would we want this? I mean it’s sort of tempting to say “hell, yes,” given that the cop who pepper-sprayed nonviolent protesters out his car window while driving by has to my knowledge never even been identified, never mind charged.

But … okay, so having looked at Joseph Banks’ website, he doesn’t mention this anywhere as a goal, he just pulled it out during the debate. His platform talks about better coordination with MPD and other agencies; it does not say anywhere, “by the way, we could TOTALLY go arrest Minneapolis cops for brutality, vote me in and we’ll start doing that,” which is kind of funny because that would have gotten him a lot of attention from some of the local groups, especially if he really seemed like he could make that stick.

“Does he seem like he could make that stick” is another question. In addition to “is he serious about this thing he brought up at a debate but doesn’t mention on his website,” I’m reminded of a comment someone made during the primary about Mary Moriarty vs. one of the other candidates running as a reformer — reform is extremely hard and you’re a lot less likely to succeed at it if you don’t know the existing system really well. Dawanna has worked for the Sheriff’s office (for years); Joseph Banks has not.

Joseph has worked as a chief of police, though: “In 2005, I started working for the Lower Sioux Police Department until I accepted a position as Chief of Police with the Upper Sioux Police Department. I then served as the Chief of Police for Morton, Minnesota. I then returned to the Lower Sioux Police Department where I was the Chief Investigator and the acting Chief of Police.” The Upper Sioux reservation has a population of 120. Morton, MN has a population of 411, and at the present time does not have a police department — its policing is done by the Renville County Sheriff’s Department. This is pretty standard for very small towns and honestly, I’m surprised that they ever had their own Chief of Police, with a population that small. By comparison: the Hennepin County Sheriff’s office has 800 people working for it.

So — yeah, okay, that detail all by itself makes me deeply skeptical of Joseph, even as it also explains why (in the debate) he kind of airily said that anyone who committed misconduct would be gone, he’d fire them. (It’s frequently not that simple, which is part of the problem. Dawanna said that she would fire the bad actors if she could, but if she could not, she’d put them on desk duty.) He’s been a Chief of Police, twice, but in the larger of the two places, the whole community was less than half the size of the department he’d be running as Sheriff.

In some ways, Joseph Banks presents himself as more of a reformer than Dawanna. But when someone comes in to a high-level position where they’re kind of over their head, what tends to happen is that all the people under them just kind of keep doing what they’re doing. And this is a department that was run for years by Stanek (and then for the last four by Hutch, but he’s been largely checked out for most of the last year. His car crash was in December of 2021 and he apparently spent a bunch of 2022 vindictively running up bills.) I think the changes Dawanna is proposing (things like an information dashboard, making it more efficient to check people into the jail, an expansion of education and treatment options for people who are in the jail awaiting trial) are more modest, but also she’s vastly more likely to get them done.

I would vote for Dawanna Witt.

ETA 10/25: There was a good article in the Sahan Journal about the race. Some additional details mentioned: Joseph Banks hasn’t worked in law enforcement since 2009; his job in Morton, MN only lasted four months; he was fired by the City Council in a closed session after a meeting to discuss a no-contact order filed by his former partner. The article also notes that he wants to triple the number of deputies to 2,400, hiring 500 deputies per year until they reach that number; Dawanna Witt says that’s not in the budget (even remotely) and she will hire 30 additional deputies, the number actually budgeted for by the county.

Anyway, this article confirmed my broad impression that Dawanna Witt is competent and would know what she is doing in this office and Joseph Banks is sort of a flake.


In addition to writing political commentary, I write science fiction and fantasy. My book that came out in April 2021, Chaos on CatNet, takes place in a future Minneapolis. It’s a sequel to Catfishing on CatNet and signed copies of both books are usually available from Dreamhaven and the NOW REOPENED Uncle Hugo’s (it’s at 2716 E 31st St in Minneapolis, in the former Glass Endeavors.)

I do not have a Patreon or Ko-Fi, but you can make a donation to encourage my work! I get a lot of satisfaction watching fundraisers I highlight getting funded (or, in the case of the Movement Voter fundraiser, continuing to raise money past their goal). I explained back in May why I’m fundraising for the Movement Voter PAC and that fundraiser is still active.

I also went looking for some DonorsChoose fundraisers. In Minneapolis, I found a science teacher at Sullivan STEAM magnet needs some better computers so his students can actually program the cool robots they got. In St. Paul, I found an English teacher at Harding Senior High who would like snacks for her students.