Election Day in Minnesota: What’s on the ballot — and which races to watch

MinnPost file photo by Corey Anderson
In the St. Paul city council election, voters will use ranked-choice voting to select council members in all seven wards.

It’s election day in Minnesota, and while there are no state-wide races, there are many school and city races on the ballot. 

School levies in 40 districts are getting most of the publicity; if all pass, they would raise an additional $1.8 billion for projects around the state.

There are also many school board elections statewide. And some city races, including St. Paul’s seven council seats (with ranked-choice voting) and, in Duluth, mayor and city council races.

In District 46A (St. Louis Park, Golden Valley, Plymouth and Medicine Lake), Peggy Flanagan is running in an uncontested race for the state House seat vacated by Ryan Winkler, who stepped down when his wife took a job in Europe.

It’s the school levies that are getting the most attention, largely because of potential price tags. The Pioneer Press discussed some of the reasons for the large numbers, which are on the ballot even though the Legislature added about $1 billion in new school spending. “Some of that money went to specific programs, such as all-day kindergarten and assistance programs for struggling students,” according to the paper. “Nonetheless, the per-pupil funding formula that schools use for general operations is expected to rise more than 9 percent from 2014 to 2016, state budget data shows.”

Many districts, though, “are still trying to make up for the stagnation of state funding during the Great Recession,” the story said.

In the St. Paul city council election, voters will use ranked-choice voting to select council members in all seven wards.

Officials believe that in Wards 1, 3, 4 and 7, where there are only one or two candidates, winners with a majority of the vote will be declared on election night. In the other races, which have multiple candidates, voters ranking their choices means it’s likely that no one will get a majority of first choice votes. That means officials will begin tallying second, third or even more choices in a process set to begin Nov. 9.

In Ramsey County, there are also municipal elections in Falcon Heights, Maplewood, New Brighton, St. Anthony and White Bear Lake.

Duluth voters will select a new mayor (incumbent Don Ness isn’t seeking re-election) and five city council members. Voters will also decide whether future city elections should be done using ranked-choice voting.

Among the other municipal elections: Circle Pines voters will elect a mayor and two council member and in Lino Lakes, it’s also a mayor and two council members.

In school board elections around the state, the St. Paul race will have a big impact as four seats are up and only one incumbent is in the running. The city DFL and the teachers’ union have endorsed a slate of four newcomers.

There are also ten metro school districts with ballot questions, according to the Association of Metropolitan School Districts. In those districts, voters will decide everything from operating levy renewals to increases in capital levy and bonding proposals:

  • Eastern Carver County Schools: Question 1: Revoke an existing operating referendum of $379 per pupil and replace it with one for $829 per pupil, an increase of $450 per pupil. Question 2: Building Bonds: a $66.7 million bond issue for a new school, land, classroom additions, repair and betterment at all schools, a pool and a multi-purpose athletic facility.
  • Farmington Area Public Schools Question 1: Increase the operating levy by $433 per pupil to lower class size and maintain programs. Question 2: Building Bonds: $45,320,000 bond issue for deferred maintenance and safety and security upgrades.
  • Fridley Public Schools Question 1: Renewal of an existing operating levy. Question 2: Building Bonds: $27,500,000 bond issue to improve safety and security and technology and address deferred maintenance issues.
  • Lakeville Area Public Schools Question 1: Capital levy for $2 million per year to provide equipment to support STEM programming and improve safety and security. Question 2: Increase operating levy by $100 per pupil to reduce class size and restore art and band programs.
  • Minnetonka Public Schools Question 1: Renew and increase operating levy by $340 per pupil for taxes payable in 2016, with a second increase to $2,046 per pupil for taxes payable in 2019. Question 2: Renewal of the existing capital projects technology levy at the current rate.
  • North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale Question 1: Increase the operating levy by $900 per student to maintain class sizes in math and reading and increase student support services and build college and career pathways for all students. Question 2: Capital Projects Levy of $3 million per year to enhance safety and security and support bandwidth and infrastructure.
  • Richfield Public Schools Question 1: Renewal of the existing operating levy. Question 2: Renew the existing levy and include an inflationary increase to maintain purchasing power.
  • Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan Question 1: Building Bonds: a $180 million bond issue to address safety and security, space for learning and technology for learning.
  • South Washington County Question 1: Operating levy increase of $525 per pupil to sustain educational programs and opportunities. Question 2: Building Bond: a $96 million bond issue for construction of a new middle school and to repurpose and improve existing middle schools. Question 3: Building Bond: a $46.5 million bond issue for additions and improvements to high schools and elementary schools.
  • St. Cloud Area School District Question 1: Building Bond: $167 million for land acquisition and construction of a new Technical high school, renovations to Apollo High School, security enhancements and technology infrastructure and devices.

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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Keith Butcher on 11/03/2015 - 03:10 pm.

    Question

    I have a question and thought this might be a good place to ask it given the level of expertise that I see on Minnpost. I live in the Minnetonka School District and they are seeking passage of a referendum today. Whereas I normally vote at the local community center, today the vote was held at the school. I even heard stories of other people hearing kids encouraging adults to vote yes while they were inside the school (ie. polling place). I know that there are some laws on the books limiting campaigning too close to the actual voting area but I don’t know the specifics. Since I had never voted at the school before, I can’t help but wonder if the polling place was moved to try and influence the outcome. Any thoughts would be appreciated. It just seemed very odd to me. Thanks.

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