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The final tally: five Minneapolis Council incumbents unseated in 2021 city election

The second day of vote tabulations confirmed the defeats of council members Steve Fletcher, Cam Gordon and Kevin Reich. 

LaTrisha Vetaw
LaTrisha Vetaw for Ward 4
LaTrisha Vetaw
The majority of Minneapolis City Council races were decided on election night, including two contests in which incumbents lost. Phillipe Cunningham lost in Ward 4 to LaTrisha Vetaw and Jeremy Schroeder lost in Ward 11 to Emily Koski. 

The second day of tabulation saw three more incumbents defeated: Cam Gordon, Kevin Reich, and Steve Fletcher. 

Gordon, who has been on the City Council since 2006, lost his re-election bid in Ward 2 to Robin Wonsley Worlobah. On election night, the Democratic Socialist Worlobah led with 29 percent of first-choice votes, while DFLer Yusra Arab nabbed 28 percent, followed by Gordon at 26 percent. Gordon’s defeat was made official on Wednesday, when he was eliminated after the first round of tabulations. 

Robin Wonsley Worlobah
Photo by Eric Mueller
Robin Wonsley Worlobah
“Those two well-funded campaigns, one to the left of me, one to the right of me, with very different philosophies that were resonating with folks on either end of the spectrum, I guess,” said Gordon. “It’s gonna be interesting to see how folks come together. That’s kinda true for the whole city.” 

Worlobah was named the unofficial winner in Ward 2 by a margin of just 19 votes over Arab. Election results still need to be finalized by the city’s canvassing board.

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In Ward 3, Steve Fletcher also couldn’t hold on to his seat. Michael Rainville, who led in first-choice votes by 45 percent to 39 percent after election night, was named the winner after two rounds of tabulation. In the final round, Rainville received 51 percent of the vote; Fletcher got 42 percent. 

Michael Rainville
Rainville for Ward 3
Michael Rainville
“I just feel that I am in this position where I have relationships because of my professional career downtown, and my relationships because I have lived here my whole life,” said Rainville. “I looked in the mirror and asked who can help heal this city and this ward and the answer was me.”

Fletcher, in a statement, said he was proud of his accomplishments during his term on the council, including the creation of the Office of Violence Prevention and the passage of the Minneapolis 2040 plan. 

Elliott Payne, a challenger in Ward 1, also carried an election night advantage into a win Wednesday over an incumbent, Kevin Reich, who has been on the council since 2009. On election night, Payne held a lead of 48 to 43 percent in first-choice votes. Payne was able to claim victory after the next round of tabulation, with 50 percent to Reich’s 45. 

Elliott Payne
Elliott Payne for City Council
Elliott Payne
“We showed that in Ward 1, we’re not afraid,” said Payne in a statement. “We know that together, we can build a city that works for everyone, where we all belong.”

One City Council incumbent who faced a tough race did secure re-election: Jeremiah Ellison in Ward 5. 

Ellison had a lead after election night, grabbing 32 percent of first-choice votes, which was good for a seven-point lead over two challengers — Kristel Porter and Victor Martinez, who both received 25 percent. 

Ellison was declared the winner on Wednesday over Porter after Martinez was eliminated during the third round of tabulations. The final tally was Ellison with 38.6 percent and Porter with 36.9 percent, a difference of 93 votes. Pointing to the margin, Porter, in a statement, said her “role with the community is far from over.”

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Aisha Chughtai
Courtesy of Aisha Chughtai
Aisha Chughtai
In the open race to fill Council President Lisa Bender’s Ward 10 seat, Aisha Chughtai got 36 percent of first-rank votes, with the rest of the field trailing by substantial margins.

That big lead rolled into a second-round win over Alicia Gibson, with Chughtai receiving 50 percent of the vote and Gibson picking up 33 percent. 

“For a young organizer, a renter, a daughter of an immigrant family, for a campaign funded ten dollars at a time by working-class neighbors,” said Chughtai in a statement, “this is an absolutely incredible achievement.”