Mpls City Council: Ward 9

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:

Alondra Cano (DFL, endorsed, incumbent)
Gary Schiff (DFL)
Mohamed Farah (DFL)
Ronald W. Peterson (Republican)

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Mpls City Council: Ward 8

Ward 8 is currently represented by Elizabeth Glidden, but she decided not to run again. On the ballot:

Andrea Jenkins (DFL, endorsed)
Terry White (Green)
David Holsinger (Libertarian)
April Kane

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.

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St. Paul Mayoral Race, Part II

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:

Elizabeth Dickinson
Melvin Carter
Dai Thao
Tom Goldstein
Pat Harris

The St. Paul ballot, unlike the Minneapolis ballot, doesn’t list party affiliations. Elizabeth Dickinson is a Green; the other four are all DFLers.

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St. Paul Mayoral Race

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
Melvin Carter
Dai Thao
Tom Goldstein
Pat Harris

(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:

Trahern Crews
Barnabas Joshua Y’shua
Chris Holbrook
Sharon Anderson
Tim Holden who for some reason is on the ballot as Holden Holden

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.

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Mpls City Council: Ward 7

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:

Lisa Goodman (DFL, Incumbent)
Joe Kovacs (Republican)
Teqen Zea-Aida (DFL)
Janne Flisrand (DFL)

No candidate received DFL endorsement.

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Instant Runoff Voting in St. Paul for (effectively) the first time

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Mpls City Council: Ward 6

If Ward 5 was the most baffling overall, Ward 6 has the most baffling political candidate: an immigrant Muslim woman who’s running as a Republican on a Democratic platform and who went to a Trump rally. She’s not going to win (I mean, come on, she has “Republican” after her name on the ballot and this ward includes Seward) but I’m probably going to spend more time than is really warranted because of the “wait, hang on, what?” factor here.

This ward’s race also has a DFL-endorsed incumbent and a challenger who is endorsed by all the progressive groups. A fourth candidate, arrested for drunk driving in July, didn’t wind up filing.

On the ballot:

Abdi Warsame (DFL, incumbent, endorsed)
Mohamud Noor (DFL)
Fadumo Yusuf (Republican)

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Mpls City Council: Ward 5

Of all the races I’ve written about so far, I find this one the most baffling.

On the ballot:

Blong Yang (DFL incumbent)
Jeremiah Ellison (DFL endorsed)
Raeisha (RA) Williams (Democratic Party)
Cathy Spann (DFL)

When you’re running for office (and it’s not, you know, Soil & Water Board), there are certain things you should plan to do if you’re actively campaigning. Typically, if you get a questionnaire from a group, you fill it out and send it back for their voter guide. This is a good idea even if you don’t think this group is going to endorse you, because that voter guide goes online and will be read by people from all over the political spectrum. If you get invited to a forum where you’re going to get questions about your positions, you go and participate. You hold events where voters can meet you, and organize events for your volunteers to doorknock and drop lit.

My usual bare-bones test for “is this person even running for the office, or are they just hanging out on the ballot?”) is, “Do they have a website with information about them, a donations link, and a way to volunteer?” All four of these candidates pass this test.

But only two of them are filling out questionnaires, going to forums, and holding events. And neither one of them is the incumbent.

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Mpls City Council: Ward 4

The incumbent City Council rep in Ward 4 is Barb Johnson. She was one of the folks who voted for the Vikings stadium, but held onto her seat, in part because she managed to hold onto the DFL Endorsement. This year, there’s no endorsement, and she has two DFL challengers plus a Libertarian.

On the ballot:

Barb Johnson (DFL, incumbent)
Phillipe Cunningham (DFL)
Stephanie Gasca (DFL)
Dana Hansen (Libertarian)
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Mpls City Council: Ward 3

(Wondering where Ward 2 is? Ward 2: your City Council Rep will be Cam Gordon. If you don’t like him, you can run against him yourself in four years.)

Ward 3 is Jacob Frey’s ward, so there is no incumbent. The four candidates:

Ginger Jentzen (Socialist Alternative)
Samantha Pree-Stinson (Green)
Tim Bildsoe (DFL) (Edited to add: was apparently GOP in his last electoral job)
Steve Fletcher (DFL, has the actual endorsement)

It doesn’t look like Tim Bildsoe sought endorsement (the article I found about that ward convention doesn’t mention him). In this Minnesota Daily article, it sounds like the socialist is the one who’s raising the most money. (Dear Minnesota Daily: an actual date on each article is nice. “Last updated 20 hours ago” doesn’t mean nearly as much as you seem to think it does.)

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