It may go without saying, but let’s say it: if you’re frustrated about our political reality on a national and international level, one of the most powerful actions you can take is to engage on a local level. Our city council and mayor (and Parks Board!) have real power to affect people’s lives. Additionally, local elections aren’t just about candidates winning and losing; they’re an opportunity for all of us to get more plugged in, and start paying closer attention to the level of government over which we have the most control. This post focuses on Minneapolis, but the same is true elsewhere. So what follows are a few resources:
1. For Those of Us Who Need More Information
Voices for Racial Justice, Pollen, and Rhymesayers collaborated on this fantastic voter guide. The guide features fairly in-depth candidate profiles, and those candidates’ answers to a range of good questions (at least for those who bothered to answer). It also has links for you to find out what ward you’re in, and how/where/when to vote. A perfect entry point, especially for new voters.
- Addendum: another voter guide, via the Twin Cities Daily Planet
2. For Those of Us Who Haven’t Used Ranked-Choice Voting Before
As I prepare to go vote, I’m going to be sure to not just have my top choice for mayor (for example), but my top *three* choices in mind. In Minneapolis, we get to rank our top three candidates, ensuring that we can vote for whom we really want to vote, while still having fallback options. One note– this can also be used to strategically “block” candidates whom we don’t particularly like. So if there are two mayoral candidates you’re excited about, two you really dislike, and two you’re “meh” on, it may be worth choosing one of the “meh” candidates to go in your #3 slot, if only to block one of the others.
3. For Those of Us Looking for More Perspectives
Yes, there are a lot of candidates for a lot of different positions. These links may be helpful for people during their decision making process:
- Our Revolution MN Endorsements: Some endorsements, along with brief write-ups of the candidates and links to their websites. A good place to start.
- TakeAction MN Endorsements: TakeAction MN does a lot of good work, and their voter guide includes some picks not just for MPLS, but Saint Paul and Duluth as well.
- MN Nurses Association Endorsements: This is just one example. If all the names on the ballot mean nothing to you, you can look up people you trust– whether that’s a politician like Ilhan Omar, a union like the SEIU, or another source.
- Give a Shit MPLS: collective of local organizers working to get more people engaged– they have some public events coming up too, for people looking for opportunities to plug in.
- Parks & Power Campaign: Because these Parks Board races matter, and undoubtedly won’t receive as much coverage or attention.
- A TC Daily Planet piece from January highlighting seven candidates “because they bring, in terms of race, gender identity and sexual orientation, an unprecedented level of diversity to the 2017 elections.”
- Local writer Naomi Kritzer’s blog: I don’t agree with everything here, and this is just another random person and their opinions (like me), but these write-ups of all the races are deep and nuanced. They also link to more info, and bring in quotes from the various debates/forums too. Definitely worth a look, at least.
- Wedge Live on Twitter: again, I don’t always agree with everything this account posts, but for people looking to just be more engaged with local politics, they’re worth a follow. They also sometimes live-tweet candidate events, which is always helpful.
A Personal Note
As a ward 1 resident, I’ve already publicly endorsed Jillia Pessenda, felt great about it at the time, and actually feel even better about it with every passing day, watching this race play out. I’m definitely encouraging my neighbors and friends in the ward to check out her platform and vote.
In the other races, I could give a million shout outs, but I feel like the endorsement links above are pretty clear as to which way a lot of progressives are leaning. Jeremiah Ellison‘s campaign has been inspiring to watch. Andrea Jenkins is a local legend. One campaign that didn’t get as many endorsements but should be on people’s radars is Ginger Jentzen in ward 3; I don’t know all the ins-and-outs of that race, but I know Jentzen has done some great work. But I said I wasn’t just going to list shout-outs; sorry. Lots of good people running, all over the city. Which is exciting, and doubly exciting in a city with ranked-choice voting.
As for mayor, I’m still learning about the candidates and digging into their platforms. I know Ray Dehn will be a top choice. He’s had– at least from what I’ve seen– the best answers to the questions in the voter guides and at live forums. I also really respect a lot of the people putting in work for him; and with local elections, relationships matter. I’ve also heard a number of people lately praising Nekima Levy-Pounds‘ affordable housing plan, which is worth a read no matter how you plan on voting.
We have a few weeks (or less, if you plan on voting early) left. If you’re just diving into this, I hope these links can be useful. If you already know how you’re voting, I hope you can get involved with a campaign and support your people. Feel free to add other thoughts or resources as comments.