Susan Du, Star Tribune, November 3, 2021
For the first time in Minneapolis history, the majority of the City Council will be made up of people of color, results of ranked-choice voting tallies showed Wednesday.
Voters ushered in a slate of seven new members along with six incumbents and an eclectic mix of perspectives about a year and a half after the Minneapolis police murder of George Floyd ignited a global racial reckoning.
A grueling election season saw 58 candidates compete for the 13 City Council seats. Eight winners scored enough first-choice votes for decisive victories in the first round.
Five were incumbents, including Andrea Jenkins of the Eighth Ward, and Andrew Johnson of the 12th Ward, who both stood on a Powderhorn Park stage with a sign declaring “Defund Police” last summer. It was a precursor to a ballot question that voters rejected Tuesday to replace the Police Department with a Department of Public Safety.
Lisa Goodman of the Seventh Ward and Linea Palmisano of the 13th Ward didn’t pledge to dismantle police, and subsequently defended the police budget against a majority of colleagues who sought to move resources out of the department and into public health alternatives. They were also re-elected.
Newcomers LaTrisha Vetaw of the Fourth Ward and Emily Koski of the 11th Ward racked landslide wins against incumbents Phillipe Cunningham and Jeremy Schroeder. Both challengers explicitly called for reforming the Police Department by investing more into it.
“When you talk about safety, we’re most affected over here,” Vetaw said. “You’re gonna raise your voice to something, it better be that for sure. … This past year, it was just so hard for everyone, so heavy.”
Jason Chavez, a strong proponent of defunding the police who also emphasized the Ninth Ward’s need for relief from gun violence, won handily in a crowded open race. Chavez said he will build relationships with all of his colleagues to ensure the historically marginalized ward receives the resources it needs to rebuild from last year’s civil unrest.
Results for contests in more competitive districts rolled in Wednesday afternoon following additional rounds of ranked-choice voting tabulation. Elliott Payne of the First Ward, Robin Wonsley Worlobah of the Second Ward and Michael Rainville of the Third Ward won hard-fought races to unseat incumbents Kevin Reich, Cam Gordon and Steve Fletcher. Payne and Worlobah, the council’s first Democratic Socialist, ran on bringing transformative changes to policing and expressed disappointment at the failure of the public safety ballot measure.