Nov 3, 2021 - Politics

Voters reject MPD overhaul

The exterior of Minneapolis City Hall.

Minneapolis City Hall. Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Tuesday was a tough night for progressives and proponents of overhauling the Minneapolis Police Department.

Driving the news: A year and a half after the murder of George Floyd, the city's voters rejected a proposed charter amendment to replace MPD with a new department of public safety.

  • Incumbent Mayor Jacob Frey, who opposed Question 2, held a double-digit lead over his progressive challengers on the first ballot.
  • And five of the nine council members who pledged to "dismantle" MPD in the days following Floyd's death trailed opponents or remained locked in a close race in the first round of ranked-choice voting.

The big picture: The local vote reflected national trends, as voters in Virginia and elsewhere sent Democrats warning signs about moving too far to the left in Tuesday's elections.

Zoom in: Returns Tuesday showed Frey securing 43% of first-choice votes in the ranked-choice election. His two most active challengers, Sheila Nezhad and Kate Knuth, trailed with 21% and 18% respectively.

  • Final results won't be known until the count is recalculated today to distribute second and third choices from exhausted ballots, but the performance tracks with what the mayor and his allies thought he needed to win in subsequent rounds.

Plus: Question 1, which gives the mayor more power over city governance, passed with 52% support.

Meanwhile, Council Member Phillipe Cunningham was crushed by LaTrisha Vetaw by a 30-point margin in North Minneapolis' Ward 4, while Ward 11's Jeremy Schroeder lost to the more moderate Emily Koski 30% to 58% in the South Minneapolis district.

  • Several other races involving incumbents who supported the police charter amendment, including Steve Fletcher in Ward 3, were too close to call based on the first-choice votes. Results also will be retabulated today to incorporate second choices.

Yes, but: Young, progressive newcomers won or led in two open seats, including Jason Chavez in the ward where Floyd was killed.

  • And one incumbent — Council Member Kevin Reich in Ward 1 — is at risk of being ousted by a rival who ran to his left. DFL-endorsed Elliott Payne, who made police reform a central theme of his campaign, leads Reich in first votes, 48% to 43%.

Finally, on Question 3: the measure giving Minneapolis lawmakers the green light to implement a rent control policy was also approved.

What's ahead: While the police charter amendment failed, groups on both sides of the campaign have pledged to keep working to reform MPD.

  • A federal civil rights investigation into the department's practices continues.

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