Tuesday was a landmark day for local politics in Minneapolis and St. Paul — and the mayoral races were the tip of the iceberg.
Minneapolis posted massive turnout, with more than 105,000 ballots cast. City Clerk Casey Carl said that appears to be a record number of ballots for a municipal election in the city — at least in recently recorded history. He did not know a final turnout percentage, however.
By contrast, the open seat for mayor in 2013 drew just 80,000 votes. The last comparable election was 1993, when 104,626 votes were cast to pick a successor to Mayor Don Fraser. Sharon Sayles Belton won that contest.
About 62,000 people voted in St. Paul, which Ramsey County Elections Manager Joe Mansky said was higher than normal.
Win or lose, City Council President Barb Johnson struggled to hold onto a north Minneapolis seat that’s been in her family for nearly 50 years. Should Johnson prevail against challenger Phillipe Cunningham, which isn’t certain, she faces tough odds to remain the leader of the council.
“These results show that our community is ready for change,” Cunningham said Tuesday night.
Turnout in the Fourth Ward was the lowest in the city in 2013, but that could be different this year — about 1,300 additional ballots were cast there.
After an overwhelming victory, Melvin Carter will become the first African-American mayor of St. Paul. Carter received more than twice as many votes as the second-place candidate, Pat Harris.
Andrea Jenkins became the first transgender woman of color elected to office in a major U.S. city when she won a seat representing Eighth Ward in south Minneapolis. If Cunningham wins as well, Minneapolis would have two transgender City Council Members.
Socialist Alternative candidate Ginger Jentzen led Wednesday among first-choice votes to fill Jacob Frey’s downtown-area council seat. If she wins, Jentzen would become the first active Socialist on the council since the 1920s.
Minneapolis came close to having a socialist council member in the 2013 election, when Ty Moore nearly won the Ninth Ward seat now occupied by Alondra Cano.