By Kristian Evans, Sports Editor
On a night in which high profile gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey took up most of the election coverage, Minneapolis and St. Paul held municipal elections for mayor, city council and park board that saw a litany of far-left candidates emerge victorious. Melvin Carter became the first African American mayor in St. Paul history with a decisive victory over City Councilman Pat Harris. With ranked choice voting in play, a large number of candidates competed in an election that saw record voter turnout.
The Minneapolis race was extremely competitive and close, and it required reallocated ranked-choice votes over several rounds. Jacob Frey was declared the winner on Wednesday, and he finished ahead of State Representative Raymond Dehn, former Hennepin Theater Trust CEO Tom Hoch and Incumbent Mayor Betsy Hodges to become the second youngest mayor in city history.
The race featured 13 official candidates with five separating themselves from the field, giving voters a glimpse into the ideological split that has followed the Democratic party nationally since the election of Donald Trump one year ago. No GOP candidates ran in the Minneapolis mayoral race.
While both Hodges and Frey were cast as moderate, establishment candidates, several more liberal candidates pushed the rhetoric of the campaign by calling for greater change. For example, Nekima Levy Pounds, a law professor and president of the Minnesota branch of the NAACP, called for a complete overhaul of law enforcement policy in the wake of two high profile police shootings and a growing disparity in quality of life for minorities in the city.
At the same time, Raymond Dehn, who was officially endorsed by the Augsburg University College Democrats, campaigned on a platform of inclusivity. A former addict and felon, Dehn won support from many of the city’s more progressive groups with a promise to dismantle systems of oppression.
Jacob Frey, a lawyer and professional distance runner, managed to win over the business community and downtown voters. He promised to create accessibility and bring cooperation back to city hall. While Frey represented many of the same initiatives as incumbent Mayor Hodges, she struggled to escape from the shadow of police violence that brought Minneapolis to the forefront of the national conversation. Frey took advantage of that mistrust and worked to sell a more positive, energetic image for the mayor’s office.
In addition to the change in mayor, the Minneapolis City Council and Park Board saw massive turnover with many progressive candidates unseating more moderate incumbents. Most significantly was Phillipe Cunningham, a former aide in the mayor’s office, who beat Barb Johnson, the longtime council member for Ward 4 and council president. Cunningham was one of two transgender candidates along with Andrea Jenkins to win Minneapolis City Council seats. The night also saw Jeremiah Ellison, son of Congressman Keith Ellison, win election for Minneapolis 5th Ward. Jono Cowgill, son of Augsburg Professor Robert Cowgill, won a seat on the Minneapolis Park Board.
This article first appeared in the Friday, November 17, 2017, Edition of The Echo.