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Posts about Minneapolis elections

Potential for three immigrants joining council

Posted by: Steve Brandt Updated: November 6, 2013 - 4:01 PM

There's strong potential for Minneapolis to seat three immigrants on its City Council for the first time since 1947.

That's with Abdi Warsame the victor in Ward 6, Blong Yang leading in Ward 5, and Alondra Cano ahead in the much tighter Ward 9.  And only if you count Cano an immigrant.  She was born in the United States, but her parents moved back to Mexico for years before coming back to the states.

According to Tony Hill, the historian of all things political in Minneapolis, the council had three immigrants from 1942 to 1947. They were Eric Hoyer (Sweden), Norman Irgens (Norway) and Oscar Cleve (Norway).  The latter two were defeated in 1947, and Hoyer went on to become mayor in 1949.

Subsequent immigrants on the council include Joe Greenstein (Poland), Keith Ford (Great Britain) and Don Samuels (Jamaica).

Vote-counting gets under way

Posted by: Steve Brandt Updated: November 6, 2013 - 1:44 PM

Day 2 of counting votes cast by Minneapolis voters got under way shortly after noon Wednesday in an off-limits room in the basement of Minneapolis City Hall.

Post-election observation by news media and campaign representatives was limited to watching a video feed from the former emergency operations center where the computer work was going forward.

The tabuilation of results is focused on the second or third-choice of voters who gave their first choices to candidates who are ruled out mathematically, or later on, are the lowest candidate as ranked by first choice voters.

The process will continue until one candidate exceeds the 50 percent threshold, or only two candidates remain. 

That work starts with the mayor's race, which election officials hope to finish before their planned midnight quitting time. It continues with wards 5, 9 and 13 City Council races, and finishes with the three at-large Park Bord seats, which was also counted last in 2009.

But unlike 2009, when the last result didn't come for two weeks after the election, City Clerk Casy Carl said that final results are expected by the end of the week, in time for the council to act as the canvassing board on Tuesday and declare them official.

The video feed of the counting, focused on three partially visible computers where the tabulation is done, is available only in the rotunda of City Hall, where the adjacent Father of Waters statue appears unperturbed by the hubbub.

The 2009 post-election process was accessible to observers at the city's northeast Minneapolis election warehouse, where ballots were sorted, stacked and counted according to the rankings of up to three candidates. That was repeated for every race without a clear winner.

But that part of the process has been automated as part of an upgrade in voting systems funded by Hennepin County, and the remainder consists mainly of election workers cutting and pasting columns of figures. They work in two teams of two workers who cross-check their totals. 

Lone Somali replaces Samatar as elected official

Posted by: Steve Brandt Updated: November 6, 2013 - 11:47 AM

Tuesday's elections had the possibility of putting as many as three Somali candidates into elected office, carrying on the legacy of the late Hussein Samatar, but only one crossed the electoral threshold.

That was Abdi Warsame, the victor for City Council in the Sixth Ward, where he swamped incumbent Robert Lilligren, becoming the council's first Somali member.

But in Eden Prairie, Mushid Barud, finished a distant fifth in a school board race, while in Mankato, Abdi Sabrie was a distant fourth, for that district's board.

But the state may gain a second Somali in public office when it fills the seat of Samatar, who made history in 2010 as the state's first elected Somali. He died in August.  Two Somalis, Ubah Ali Juma, who is Samatar';s widow, and Mohamud Noor, are among the four applicants competing to be appointed by the Minneapolis baord to the District seat on Tuesday.  The other two applicants, Ira Jourdain and Nicque M. Mabrey, are of Indian heritage.

The appointee will be sworn in during the board's Dec.10 meeting, and serve through the end of 2014.

(Photo: Abdi Warsame)

Five Minneapolis candidates behind on property taxes

Posted by: Steve Brandt Updated: October 28, 2013 - 9:24 AM

Memo to political candidates: It’s a good idea to make sure your property taxes are paid when you’re running for a tax supported job.

Five candidates in this year’s Minneapolis city elections missed their payment deadlines, including both North Side candidates for the area’s Park Board seat.

Incumbent Jon Olson gives financial hardship as the reason that he’s not made a property tax payment since the first half of 2011. He operates a Dairy Queen in the Lind-Bohanon neighborhood.  He said the recession and the loss of North Side residents who lost their homes have cut into sales.

“People don’t have the money to spend,” said Olson, who said he’s optimistic that business is rebounding.

He also said he took a hit financially from missing work for six months due to severe facial and hand injuries that caused him to have to pay someone else to run the business.  He was slashed by an assailant with a box cutter when he intervened to protect one of his employees from the intoxicated  man who had attacked her outside a bar.

Olson’s challenger, David Luce, had simple forgetfulness to blame for not paying his second-half property tax on time.  When a reporter called Thursday, he reached into a cupboard when bills are kept and found that the deadline was Oct. 15.

“It’s not like we don’t have the money,” Luce said.  Thanks.  I’ll go pay it.”

Ninth Ward City Council candidate Ty Moore said he forgot to pay his second-half tax bill amidst the pressures of his campaign. “I’ve always paid my taxes consistently,” he said.  “I’ll be paying those online today.”

Two mayoral candidates are behind on taxes. One is Bob Carney Jr., who owes his full 2013 bill of $6,660. Carney said that the recession cut his earnings, he faced foreclosure earlier this year, sold an adjacent lot he owned to pay off his mortgage, and that left him cash-poor for paying his tax.

The other is Gregg Iverson. He had a legitimate reason not to pay 2013 taxes, but he’s still delinquent on taxes from 2009 through 2012, owing $9,865 according to Hennepin County.

He owes no taxes this year, according to the county, because he qualifies to a 2010 law that exempts veterans with a 70 or 100 percent disability from paying taxes on up to $300,000 in property value.  His property is assessed at a little more than half that amount. Iverson said Friday he has made some payments on his back taxes and plans to pay in full.

It's not unheard of for a sitting pol to forget to pay taxes.  Former Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton didn't pay her taxes on time twice during her tenure, including during her 1997 re-election bid.  She denied that the lateness indicated a chronic financial problem.  Two months later, the Star Tribune reported that she and her husband had sold their Wisconsin lake home while facing foreclosure on it.

You can check who has paid taxes on time and who owes money by going to the Hennepin County web site.

School board field cut to four applicants

Posted by: Steve Brandt Updated: October 23, 2013 - 5:50 PM

Those who want to become the next Minneapolis school board member from the city’s east central board district got an oral exam Tuesday night, but the news was who didn’t appear.

Finalist Abdulkakir Abdalla, who directs a Rochester charter school, dropped out before the interviews, the crowd at Sullivan school was told. He confirmed that Wednesday, saying that he was deferring to the widow of Hussein Samatar, Ubah Ali Jama, so she could finish out the term of her late husband on the board.  But he said he’s running for the District 3 seat next year.

That left four applicants to be interviewed by the board, with a board vote scheduled for Nov. 12.  They were asked to answer the seven questions posed by the board in in three minutes each, but the first two, Nicque M. Mabrey and Ira Jordain, gave such brief answers that the board was forced to idle while waiting for the next candidates to arrive for their slots.

Mohamud Noor was by far the most voluble and articulate of those interviewed, taking 17 minutes to discuss board questions, almost twice as much as Jourdain.  He gave a nod to the candidacy of Jama, saying he was applying to give the board an option.

Mabrey acknowledged that her work involves lobbying Outfront Minnesota during when the Legislature will meet, when asked about constraints on her time. “I feel like I’m kept on my toes, but I’m ready to serve,” she said.

Asked about equity in education, the self-described “queer woman of color” said she doesn’t see her status reflected in the classroom, in curriculum or on the board. She said the district’s current strategic plan hasn’t been executed in a way that improves performance of minority students. She said a key issue in the district will be to welcome Latino and Somali immigrants.

Jourdain acknowledge in response to a question about board-management relations that he doesn’t serve on a board now.  He said his work at the Division of Indian Work provides flexibility to serve. He praised the board for taking the suggestion of activist Bill English to hold the interviews in the district, saying transparency was important and community members gain better understanding of the board.

He said one issue he’s heard from area parents is their concern over South High School’s move this year to Metro Transit bus passes.

Jama said she’d already lived and experienced the job of serving on the board through Samatar’s 2-1/2-years before his death in August from leukemia. She said that equity in schools to her means a friendly attitude by staff toward every child. Sjhe said she hopes to break down barriers as a board member to reach immigrant communities and those who are single parents.

Noor came with talking points written on board questions but also extemporized. He stressed his volunteer service. He called student achievement the district’s most critical issue, but also called for quality early childhood education. He called on the district to spreading district resources equitably across schools.

Jourdain was the only applicant to address questions of residency, saying he’s lived in the district most of his life, aside from a stint working at the Red Lake reservation, from which he returned in August.  Mabrey moved to the district in late September, while Noor moved in earlier this month.

The union-reformer divide that arose in last year’s District 4 school board race didn’t arise overtly during the questioning.  Noor was endorsed by the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers during a 2011 special election for Minnesota Senate; Samatar was one of two board members to vote against the current teacher contract, saying it didn’t make enough changes.

(Photo: Applicant Nicque Mabrey is interviewed by the school board.)

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