Sep 22, 2023 - Politics

Voting begins for Minnesota's 2023 election

Illustration of a rooster with a word balloon with a checkmark in it coming out of its mouth.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Early voting for Minnesota's Nov. 7 municipal elections began Friday.

Driving the ballots: Contests for local offices such as city council, school board, and mayor in dozens of communities and school districts.

  • Plus: Voters in several cities, including St. Paul, will decide whether to increase sales taxes to pay for local projects, and dozens of school districts are seeking approval for funding-related measures.

Why it matters: The outcome of these off-year local races will shape everything from property tax rates to the money spent on police staffing and fixing potholes.

What we're watching: How the elections affect the balance of power and political dynamics on the Minneapolis and St. Paul city councils.

  • Turnover in St. Paul, where four of seven wards have no incumbent running for re-election, could usher in an even more progressive — and diverse — council. It's also possible that all seven seats will be represented by women next year.
  • Minneapolis progressives, meanwhile, are looking for a win in the open Ward 12 seat.
  • Council President Andrea Jenkins, an ally of Mayor Jacob Frey, is also facing a challenge from the left.

Yes, but: It appears unlikely that they will secure a veto-proof majority (which is nine) on Minneapolis' 13-member council. At least one member of the progressive bloc, Council Member Jeremiah Ellison, is facing a repeat challenger.

  • Plus: Strong mayor systems in both cities limit the council's overall impact.

What to expect: Lower turnout than presidential or midterm elections, when other state and federal races are on the ballot.

For comparison, close to 80% of registered voters statewide went to the polls in 2020.

Be smart: You can check your registration status and see a sample ballot via the Secretary of State's website showing what, if any, races or questions are up for a vote in your community.

What else is on Minnesota municipal ballots in 2023

The Duluth mayor's contest is shaping up to be one of this year's hottest races. Mayor Emily Larson is facing a challenge from Roger Reinert, a former DFL state senator and council member.

St. Louis Park voters will decide whether to elect the state's first Somali mayor. Council member Nadia Mohamed and Dale A. Anderson are running to succeed outgoing Mayor Jake Spano.

Minnetonka voters are weighing whether to abandon ranked-choice voting and go back to a more traditional general election. The city's residents just approved the switch in 2020.

Bloomington is asking residents to approve a new half-cent sales tax to build a new community center and renovate an ice rink and nature trail.

  • In Golden Valley, proceeds of a 1.25% local sales tax on the ballot would go toward a new headquarters for the city's police, fire, and public works departments.

Contested school board elections across the state are attracting attention and cash.

  • Races for seats in Mounds View, Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan, and South Washington have 10-plus candidates, per MPR News.
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