After six hours and six ballots, Alondra Cano won the DFL's endorsement Saturday for Minneapolis' Ninth Ward council race, taking a step closer to becoming the first Mexican-American on the City Council.
"This has been a beautiful day in the history of the Ninth Ward," Cano told about 200 people at South High School after her main opponent, Tim Springer, dropped his bid for the nomination.
Five candidates sought the party's nomination to fill the seat left open by longtime Council Member Gary Schiff, who is running for mayor.
But two candidates, Christopher Curtis and Patrick Fleetham, fell out of the running after failing to win the 10 percent of delegate votes needed to move past the first ballot. Another candidate, Jettie Ann Hill, dropped out of the contest after coming in well behind Cano and Springer on the second ballot.
Cano had far more support than anyone from the beginning, getting more than half of the delegate votes on early ballots but repeatedly falling short of the 60 percent needed to win the endorsement. Her supporters, including many Latinos, occasionally broke out into chants of "Endorse! Endorse! Endorse!" after results kept showing that she had the most votes.
As patience wore thin, legislators speaking at the microphone emphasized the importance of the DFL endorsement and stressed the role it played in getting the right people in office.
After the fifth ballot, a motion to adjourn with no endorsement failed.
Finally, a handful of people joined Cano's camp on the sixth ballot, pushing her vote total from 107 to 113 — just shy of the 117 votes she needed — and Springer met with her to offer his support if she agreed to work for initiatives that mattered to him on the council. Those issues include creating a gay community center and a greenway linking north and south Minneapolis.
Also Saturday, delegates at the 13th Ward endorsed Linea Palmisano for City Council over Matt Perry for a seat left open by Council Member Betsy Hodges as she runs for mayor. Council Member Elizabeth Glidden faced an uncontested election at the Eighth Ward convention.
Cano is a senior communications and public affairs specialist for the Minneapolis School District. The longtime activist on immigration reform issues also has served as an aide to Council Member Robert Lilligren and worked for the Minnesota Immigrant Freedom Network.
"It is historic," said Mariano Espinoza, a Spanish access and outreach specialist at City Hall who worked with Cano during last year's city redistricting process to ensure Latinos had a better chance of winning election.
"It's one of the most diverse communities and neighborhoods across Minnesota, and by electing the first Latina in the history of Minneapolis we recognize this is the time where we are overcoming barriers and together we can lead by a vision," he said. "Latinos are excited."