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Minneapolis City Council approves changes to ranked-choice voting

The council also decided to prevent the demolition of a house designed by master builder Theron Potter Healy.

Despite public criticism and angry statements from several members earlier in the week, the Minneapolis City Council on Friday adopted without discussion new rules affecting the use of ranked-choice voting this fall.

Earlier, the debate focused on the possibility of expanding the number of choices a voter might make in the ranked-choice process from the current three to six or more. That produced criticism from some council members, aimed at colleagues, that as candidates for office they should not be designing the ballot and writing the rules.

Despite the adoption of the rule changes, there apparently still is time to decide whether to expand the number of choices voters can make when they go to polls for the city’s second ranked-choice election.

“I would say that if someone is going to be pushing something forward, they had better hurry up and do it,” said Council Member Cam Gordon, who chairs the Elections Committee. “My sense is we’ll have three ranked choices.”

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One change to the elections ordinance clarifies how votes will be counted if a voter makes an error in the ranking of choices.

Another allows for reporting winners on Election Night if those candidates reach a vote threshold that makes it mathematically impossible for another person to win.

A third change would require write-in candidates to register with the Elections Office if they want their votes tallied under their name.

The deadline for making changes to the number of rankings available to voters could come when the Elections Committee meets again June 12.

Healy houses to be surveyed

The house at 2320 Colfax Ave. S., designed and built by master builder Theron Potter Healy in 1893, will not be demolished, despite the wishes of the owner, who wants to sell the property to a developer.

The City Council joined the Heritage Preservation Commission in a desire to preserve the house, despite recommendations from city staff that there is little of historic value left in what was once a single-family home.  The building has survived three fires and is currently a 15-unit rooming house.

“In the past, the designation of individual properties was considered based on narrow criteria,” said Council Member Gary Schiff, who chairs the Zoning and Planning Committee, which voted unanimously to save the house.

Schiff explained that in the past, if a better example of the work of an architect or builder existed, then a threatened structure might not be protected.

He is proposing a survey of all existing Healy houses — 140 were built — to put an end to the “block by block squabble” about what is to be preserved and what is to be torn down.

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“The most unique thing the city of Minneapolis has is the historic nature of our homes and the age of our housing stock,” said Schiff. “Do we want to be a city with 10 Healy homes, or do we want to be a city with 110 Healy homes?”

“We’ve got to stop the indiscriminate tearing down of our history in the city,” said Council Member Meg Tuthill, who lives around the corner from the site and also lives in a Healy house. “We’ve had a boatload of beautiful, gorgeous, outstanding, turn-of-century architecture that has been ripped down in the last 40 years.”

“I don’t care if they are split up into four-plexes or six-plexes, we need to keep the streetscape, the exteriors,” said Tuthill.

Separate bathrooms

Restaurants that serve beer in Minneapolis are required to maintain separate public bathrooms for men and women, but that might change.

Council Member Sandy Colvin Roy learned that a restaurant owner who has operated with one bathroom for both men and women is being asked to remodel and add a second bathroom.

“I can see no problem it has caused,” said Colvin Roy. “No one has complained.”

She is exploring the idea of relaxing the two-bathroom rule in Minneapolis, but the effort could run into trouble if the two bathrooms are required by state law.