This post was written in consultation with David Brauer’s breaking news spreadsheet that’s taken Minneapolis by storm. This post will be updated — though at a slower pace than the sheet. For live updates, and informed speculation, check the spreadsheet.
This page will only include candidates with a website of some kind or some official registration. I will
strikethrough incumbents who are not running or candidates who drop out.
|Ward 2 – City Council||Finance|
|Cam Gordon (incumbent)||Reg|
|Robin Wonsley Worlobah||Reg|
|Ward 5 – City Council||Finance|
|Jeremiah Ellison (incumbent)||Reg|
|Victor Armando Martinez||Reg|
|Ward 9 – City Council||Finance|
|Al Flowers Jr.||Reg|
|Ward 10 – City Council||Finance|
|Steven J. Frich||Reg|
Minneapolis 2021 election notes
Minneapolis has 34 elected positions in city government. 25 of them are up for election in 2021:
- 1 mayor – Elected by voters citywide.
- 13 seats on the city council – You vote for one council member based on which of 13 wards you live in.
- 2 directly elected seats on the board of estimate and taxation – Elected by voters citywide.
- 9 seats on the park board – 6 district-based seats and 3 at-large seats elected by voters citywide.
(Not up for election in 2021: 9 seats on the school board. Elections for school board happen in even-numbered years.)
All 25 offices up for election this year typically have four year terms, but there’s something different happening in 2021. Because of a state law related to redistricting, all 13 city council seats will be elected for two years. Minneapolis will have another election for city council in 2023 based on new ward boundaries (this is an issue that came up in a 2021 ballot question that many voters had a hard time deciphering). Four years from now in the 2025 election, Minneapolis will revert back to four-year terms for city council, getting them back in sync with terms for mayor and park board.
Why you should get involved
City Council wards are small — made up of a handful of neighborhoods — and fewer people turn out to vote than for state and national offices. DFL party endorsements can hinge on 10 delegates bothering to show up to a convention (remember to attend your virtual caucus in a few months). A City Council race in November can be decided by 100 votes. If you’re like me, you gained a considerable amount of weight in 2020 — throw that weight around in 2021.
Get to know the candidates and decide who you prefer. Volunteer for a candidate you appreciate. They need your money, your time, they especially need you talking to your friends. You can turn the tide and shape the future! It all comes down to you! All the cliches are true.
When I tell people to get involved in city politics, I point to 2017. People don’t realize (meaning I had forgotten) Ward 4 came within just 175 votes of extending the Barb family dynasty into its 6th decade. pic.twitter.com/j2YvX2KQmv— Wedge LIVE!™ (@WedgeLIVE) December 1, 2020
Why is the Mayor important?
Being mayor is about more than spouting breakfast-based catch phrases and going on the TV news. They appoint the city’s various department heads and recommend a city budget every year. The Mayor has ultimate authority over the police department, with the police chief answering directly to the mayor.
Why is the City Council important?
The City Council has a lot of power in Minneapolis. They amend and approve the mayor’s budget every year, deciding how much money goes to which priorities. They pass laws (ordinances) on everything from zoning to minimum wage. They also set policies for every department that isn’t the police department (people will argue this last point, but as an observer, this is how city hall actually functions).
What’s up with the BET?
Hardly anyone knows that the board of estimate and taxation exists, which is the correct level of attention for a normal person to give. But for many years this lack of scrutiny has brought us Carol Becker (who, I should remind you, is a reckless and harmful personality).
The BET will usually only rise to wider public attention when they set the maximum property tax levy every year. In addition to the two directly elected members (who are paid a very modest amount of money per meeting), the board consists of four other elected officials (the Mayor, the Council President, City Council’s Ways and Means committee chair, and the Park Board President).
Why does Minneapolis have an independent park board?
It’s beyond the scope of my expertise. They regularly have six hour meetings. I will only watch a park board meeting if one of them punches or kicks a colleague (in a verbal sense). It’s clear to me that they don’t make enough money to justify getting regularly kicked or punched, so it’s the kind of part-time job that attracts people who enjoy receiving/delivering kicks and punches.
Election year is stressful. What can I watch to relax?
This post will be updated with Park Board and BET candidates at a later time.