Election Day was shaping up to be a pretty typical one for an odd-year contest when only local races, like city council, school board and some tax issues are on the ballot.

Election workers and traffic at Twin Cities polling places Tuesday suggested turnout was modest, but there was interest in some key races, especially in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Martin Luther King Jr. Park gym in south Minneapolis was the busiest polling place in the city Tuesday morning with more than 450 voters casting ballots by 9 a.m., city spokesman Casper Hill said.

But Weisman Museum, a polling location for the Second Ward on the University of Minnesota campus, had only seen five voters by noon — during last year's midterms about 600 people cast ballots there.

Polls closed at 8 p.m. on Tuesday. Find your polling place here and sample ballot here.

All City Council seats in Minneapolis and St. Paul are on the ballot. In Minneapolis, 38 candidates are vying for 13 seats, and 30 are in the race for seven seats in St. Paul.

There are also competitive mayoral and council races across the state, including in Bloomington, Duluth, Minnetonka and St. Anthony.

Public safety, housing costs and city infrastructure have been the focus of campaigns in both the Twin Cities.

Minneapolis officials said Monday night that more than 13,000 people had cast early ballots, a distant second to 2021, when more than 21,000 voted early. Early votes were also down in St. Paul.

Minneapolis council races

Despite the anticipation surrounding the contentious Eighth Ward race that includes Council President Andrea Jenkins and Soren Stevenson, things appeared steady Tuesday morning and there were no lines.

Jenkins was a longtime City Council staffer when she made history in 2017 as the first Black transgender woman elected to public office in the United States. Stevenson, a 29-year-old white activist, won the DFL's vote of confidence from Jenkins in an early upset and also won the backing of Twin Cities Democratic Socialists.

Anna Zaros, a 37-year-old Kingfield resident, picked Stevenson as her top choice saying Jenkins hasn't voted in the way the progressive residents of the ward would have wanted on issues such as rent control, keeping the George Floyd Square open, and building community-based safety initiatives.

"I really love Andrea Jenkins and I ranked her two," Zaros said. "But I feel like it's important to make choices that are good for everyone."

Jordan Cullen, 34, also regards Stevenson as the most progressive candidate and an advocate for the issues he cares about, such as affordable housing and the ongoing police reform. He wants the city to invest resources in ways that would better serve it's vulnerable residents.

"I'm just looking for a more progressive push in the city council," Cullen said.

At First Universalist Church in the Tenth Ward, a steady stream of voters split between Council Member Aisha Chughtai and real estate developer Bruce Dachis.

Tony Jorgensen ranked Chughtai first, saying he trusted her most to represent his values as a renter. He was put off by Dachis' fixation on opposing defunding or abolishing the police because they are not issues in this election. "We just need to get Uptown back to what it was, before the riots," he said.

Colleen and Harrison Hite walked out of the polls shortly afterward having supported Dachis. "I'd like to see a more central DFL than a left-wing DFL," said Harrison, who added that the All for Mpls PAC's slate of centrists spoke more to him than the progressive faction that Chughtai is part of, and that he disagreed with the council member's recent statement on attacks on civilians in Gaza.

In the Seventh Ward, voters started to trickle in at the Emerson School at around midday to cast their votes for an open seat.

Among them were Jane Lefferts, 81, and her husband Peter Lefferts, 82, who both voted for Scott Graham, a realtor and self-described "pragmatic Democrat" because he was recommended by Council Member Lisa Goodman, who is not seeking re-election.

A younger couple, Timothy and Bisi Walters had the more progressive Katie Cashman as their top choice. Bisi, 29, who's Black said she wanted to support a woman candidate and that "[Cashman] seemed like she was more for community led practices on policing."

In the Twelfth Ward, Kevin Proescholdt and Jean Swanson both voted for Luther Ranheim, a gift planner at the Minnesota-St. Paul Foundation, saying they wanted a moderate for their next council member. "More maturity," said Swanson, and less chaos.

Mark and Brenda Wiger want to see more collaboration on the council and backed Aurin Chowdhury, a community organizer and policy aide to Ninth Ward Council Member Jason Chavez. "We have to get moving on police protection and innovative ways of dealing with safety and crime," Mark said.

St. Paul races

At the Jimmy Lee Recreation Center in St. Paul, voters trickled in midmorning Tuesday after a small earlier rush.

Ayan Askar, who was working for the first time as an interpreter election judge, said she was thrilled to be able to help residents vote, including a Somali-speaking woman voting for the first time who had come in earlier.

The polling place is near Skyline Tower.

"Many immigrants live there, seniors live there who can't read and write and don't speak the language," Askar said.

Ramsey County has 96 interpreters working at polling places on Election Day for voters who speak Hmong, Somali and Karen. There is also a hotline election workers can call to help voters who speak other languages.

St. Paul voters are also deciding if they want to increase sales taxes by 1% to raise nearly $1 billion over the next 20 years for road and park projects. The request comes after sales taxes in the Twin Cities metro area jumped 1% on October 1 to fund housing and transit projects.

Charles Monsour said he wasn't motivated by any city council candidates and is voting no on the St. Paul sales tax question. He said council and the mayor have not delivered on past promises.

"In my opinion, he needs to manage and control the budget better," Monsour said of Mayor Melvin Carter, who is not up for election this year.

At Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in St. Paul's Third Ward, Colleen Hegranes supported the sales tax question.

"I think it's a good idea because it is sequestered to just the streets and the parks," she said. "I would not be in favor of it if it was just another tax to go into the coffers."

Sabrina Lau also backed the sales tax increase, saying: "I know that our infrastructure is not keeping pace. I know we've delayed it and it feels like it will be hard to catch up, and it only gets worse."

But Colleen Callahan said no way to the hike. "I'm definitely no sales tax, no bike path, those are my big ones," Callahan said on her way into Gloria Dei.

The Legislature gave 32 cities across the state — including Bloomington, Edina, Golden Valley and Mounds View — the OK to put sales tax increases before voters. Many of them will raise money for recreational facilities and other public buildings.

Five Minnesota cities will use ranked-choice voting during this election — Minneapolis, St. Paul, Bloomington, St. Louis Park and Minnetonka. And just three years after it was approved by 55% of voters, Minnetonka will decide whether to keep the sometimes-controversial way of picking winning candidates.

School races

Voters in 53 Minnesota districts are picking school board members this year, including four seats up for election on the St. Paul board.

Charter school worker Rosalind Loggin supported Yusef Carrillo's bid for a seat on the St. Paul board when voting at Battle Creek Recreation Center on Tuesday.

Loggin said she wanted a board member who would follow through on the changes they promised during the campaign.

"I see the injustice in a lot of situations," she said, noting that in communities of color, kids are suffering. "Don't just come into our communities to exploit them."

Campaign spending on school board contests has increased dramatically in suburban districts, including the Anoka-Hennepin, Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan, South Washington County and Wayzata districts, where cultural issues and academic concerns have driven interest.

Over two dozen Minnesota school districts have ballot questions asking voters to approve funding for operations, including Brooklyn Center, Columbia Heights, Inver Grove Heights, Lakeville and Richfield.

An Inver Grove Heights district staffer said turnout had been typical, with about 2,400 votes cast by 4 p.m., including 400 early ballots. Five board seats are on the ballot in addition to the district's funding request.

There are 44 districts statewide with capital borrowing requests before voters that would fund new buildings, renovations and safety upgrades. In the metro area, the Richfield, South Washington County, Stillwater, Wayzata, West St. Paul and Mendota Heights-Eagan districts have capital requests on the ballot.

Those requests for more local money for schools comes after the Legislature approved a historic $2.26 billion increase in state education spending, roughly 11% more than the previous state budget.

Hannah Ward, a University of Minnesota student reporter on assignment for the Star Tribune, contributed to this story.