Nov 4, 2021 - Politics

Minneapolis City Council leans slightly moderate after 2021 election

Data: Minnesota Secretary of State, Axios research; Map: Thomas Oide/Axios

A Minneapolis City Council that had been moving to the left in recent elections took a step back toward the right on Tuesday.

Why it matters: With moderates picking up a net gain of one seat on the 13-member dais, they will have more of a say on shaping police reform, rent control and other big issues.

What happened: Moderate challengers in Wards 3, 4, and 11 ousted progressive incumbents who supported a charter amendment to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department that failed Tuesday.

  • Meanwhile, progressives picked up seats in Wards 1 and 9.

By the numbers: The City Council will have seven new members and, for the first time, a majority — eight — will be people of color, according to Sahan Journal.

  • Of note: City Council races are nonpartisan, and not every candidate falls neatly into a moderate or progressive camp, particularly Andrea Jenkins in Ward 8 and Andrew Johnson in Ward 12.

Between the lines: The new moderate City Council members and Mayor Jacob Frey may not have the same pressure to reform the police department as their opponents did, but 44% of voters said they wanted a major overhaul of public safety and many more want at least some level of reform.

What they're saying: "Just because the amendment got voted down doesn't mean we don't need really deep reforms in how we do our policing," said Michael Rainville, who beat incumbent Steve Fletcher in Ward 3.

  • But Rainville expressed concerns about voters passing an amendment allowing the City Council to create a rent control ordinance.
  • He said he doesn't want an ordinance that strict, saying it will scare developers away.

Rainville forged relationships with other candidates like LaTrisha Vetaw who beat Phillipe Cunningham in North Minneapolis' Ward 4.

  • Vetaw, on an MPR interview, said she wants more police: "We want police who are from this community … we want police who understand the differences, the diversity of the community."

The other side: Jason Chavez won a crowded race to fill an open seat in Ward 9, the South Minneapolis ward where George Floyd was killed. He said the citywide outcomes don't change his priorities. 

  • He plans to continue to push for changes to public safety that will keep the "community safe from both community violence and police violence."
  • On rent control, he wants to see the "strongest [policy] we can have."

What to watch: City Council President Lisa Bender didn't run for re-election, so the selection for her replacement will tell us a lot about what to expect from new dynamics with Frey.

  • The two had clashed at times over the past four years.

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