St. Louis Park has taken one step closer to becoming the first metro area suburb to implement ranked-choice voting.

The city's Charter Commission voted 10-2 last month to recommend ranked-choice voting to the City Council. The council is scheduled to take up the issue at its April 16 meeting.

If the council approves, St. Louis Park would use ranked-choice voting in its elections in November 2019. In the metro area, only Minneapolis and St. Paul have adopted the system.

Also called instant-runoff voting, ranked-choice voting allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference. The system reassigns ballots they cast once their first choices drop off the list. The candidate with a majority of ballots wins.

City Council Member Rachel Harris supported ranked-choice voting in her race for the City Council and said that it "levels the playing field and makes democracy more accessible," according to the website of Fair Vote Minnesota, a nonprofit that advocates for ranked-choice voting.

Kelly Busche


Five to compete for Third Ward council seat

Five candidates will compete for a seat on the Minnetonka City Council in a special election on April 10. The winner will fill the Third Ward seat vacated when Brad Wiersum was elected mayor in November.

The candidates for the seat are Elena Imaretska, chief innovation officer for the Brave New Workshop theater; Mike Happe, a former member of the Minnetonka Economic Development Advisory Commission; Brooks Johnson, a scientist for Abbott Laboratories; Keith Waxelman, a business and technology strategist; and Kim Wilson, a local school volunteer.

The local League of Women Voters held a candidate forum on March 20, which can be viewed online at

Six polling locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on April 10. Information on locations is available at

Election results will be certified on April 16 and the new council member will be sworn into office on April 23. Third Ward includes the city's northwestern portion.

Miguel Otárola

Hennepin County

Board grants $200K to battle invasive species

The Hennepin County Board awarded nearly $200,000 in grants to groups combating the spread of aquatic invasive species. The money will pay for lake inspections, research, watercraft cleaning services and more.

Grant recipients include:

• Three Rivers Park District, $53,000 to inspect more public access locations around Lake Minnetonka and install watercraft cleaning service at Lake Minnetonka Regional Park;

• City of Long Lake, $33,675 to install a watercraft cleaning service at Long Lake;

• Fortin Consulting Co., $36,500 to fund early detection efforts throughout the county and research ways in which invasive species get into water bodies;

• Bassett Creek Watershed Management Commission, $20,000 to install a watercraft cleaning station at French Regional Park on Medicine Lake;

• CD3 General Benefit Corporation, $15,000 to develop waterless cleaning stations at boat launches across the county;

• Wayzata Sailing Foundation, $11,000 to help young people find and monitor invasive species in Lake Minnetonka;

• Lake Minnetonka Conservation District, $10,000 to expand inspection times at smaller access points around Lake Minnetonka;

• Christmas Lake Homeowners Association, $10,000 to support watercraft inspections during the lake's public access hours;

• City of Eden Prairie, $9,000 for research on Brittle naiad, a little-known invasive plant.

Emily Allen

Hennepin County

Baker recognized by forensic science group

Dr. Andrew Baker, chief medical examiner for Hennepin County, received two awards in February from the American Academy of Forensic Scientists for his achievements in forensic pathology.

He received the Milton Helpern Award, in recognition of lifetime achievement in forensic pathology and leadership, service and teaching in the field, and also received the Kenneth S. Field Award of Appreciation.

In a statement, Baker said he saw the recognition as "an aspirational charge to continue to serve the interests of the pathology-biology section and the profession of forensic pathology so long as I am able."

Kimberly Wrasse, continuing education coordinator for the academy, said in a statement that Baker's work on the continuing education committee had helped to streamline its accreditation process.

Baker has served on 12 committees and boards in his 20 years with the academy. He serves as director of the pathology-biology section and sits on the executive committee, and also chairs the Forensic Science Foundation, the academy's research arm. He has served as president of the National Association of Medical Examiners.

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office investigates unexpected deaths in Hennepin, Dakota and Scott counties.

Kevin Duchschere


Lake museum hosting volunteer fair

The Museum of Lake Minnetonka will host a volunteer fair from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday at its office, 37 Water St., for those who want to learn about on- and offseason positions as the museum prepares to return its primary attraction, the Minnehaha streetcar boat, to Lake Minnetonka for the season.

Museum officials say that they need captains, engineers, housekeepers and pursers. The museum also is seeking members for its marketing and archive committees.

This summer will be the Minnehaha's 23rd season of giving cruises across Lake Minnetonka. The museum posts all volunteer opportunities on its website,

Emily Allen