Jan 20, 2023 - Politics

Candidate fields start to fill for Minneapolis, St. Paul Council races

Illustration of a row of voting booths casting long shadows, the side of the booth reads "VOTE" with a checkmark as the V.

Illustration: Victoria Ellis/Axios

Election season is once again upon us, as City Council candidates in Minneapolis and St. Paul gear up for high-stakes battles that will shape local policy and politics for years to come.

What's happening: About two dozen candidates between the two cities have already announced runs ahead of the November municipal elections. Expect more to jump in over the coming weeks and months.

Why it matters: Feeling election fatigue after last year's midterms? We get it. But the outcome of these races will determine who gets to make crucial spending and policy decisions in the state's two most populous cities.

The big picture: The Democratic lean of both cities means top races will be battles within rival factions of the DFL.

State of play: St. Paul is poised for some big changes, with four of seven seats open this year. Departing members include Council President Amy Brendmoen.

  • In Minneapolis, expect to see repeats of the progressive vs. moderate matchups that defined the 2021 elections. Several incumbents have already attracted challengers.

Between the lines: Open seats in both cities could lead to younger, more diverse voices on the council, as new leaders step up to succeed longtime incumbents, notes Elianne Farhat, executive director of TakeAction MN, a progressive group active in local elections.

The intrigue: Potential ballot measures in both cities could also shape policy — and the candidate races themselves — by bringing certain issues to the forefront of voters' minds.

  • In Minneapolis, a city panel is putting together recommendations for a charter amendment capping rent increases, though it's unclear if there are enough votes to get any eventual measure on the ballot via the council.
  • St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter, meanwhile, is asking the Legislature for the green light to ask voters to increase the sales tax to pay for parks and roads.

What to watch: Local DFL chapters will meet this spring to make endorsements.

  • Election Day is Nov. 7.

Go deeper: See who's running in Minneapolis and St. Paul so far.


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