Students hit the polls as Election Day in Minneapolis ramps up

Students around campus polling places reported diverse reasons for how they cast their ballots.

Jackson Willette, who voted for Al Flowers, exchanges information with election volunteers at Van Cleave Park Recreation Center on Tuesday, Nov. 7 in Minneapolis.

Image by Ellen Schmidt

Jackson Willette, who voted for Al Flowers, exchanges information with election volunteers at Van Cleave Park Recreation Center on Tuesday, Nov. 7 in Minneapolis.

by Helen Sabrowsky and Allison Cramer

University of Minnesota student and faculty voters trickled into campus area polling places for the Minneapolis municipal elections Tuesday. 

Polls opened at 7 a.m. for the 2017 municipal elections, where candidates are competing for Minneapolis mayor, city council and park board. Area residents gave a number of reasons for their votes throughout the day. Polls closed at 8 p.m.

On the ballot for the mayoral race are incumbent Betsy Hodges, Ward 3 City Council Member Jacob Frey, former State Rep. Raymond Dehn, former Minneapolis NAACP President Nekima Levy-Pounds and Tom Hoch. Since the city uses a ranked-choice voting system, each voter can select their top three choices for the position.

The Ward 3 and Ward 6 council races — which determine who will represent large, off-campus student populations in Marcy-Holmes and West Bank — had no clear front-runners close to the election.

In West Bank’s Ward 6 race, incumbent Abdi Warsame is facing activist Mohamud Noor. In Ward 3, army veteran and community activist Samantha Pree-Stinson, DFL-endorsed Steve Fletcher, Tim Bildsoe and Socialist Alternative candidate Ginger Jentzen are vying to take over the seat left empty by Frey’s mayoral run.

Finance sophomore Brianna Harstad said she voted for Hodges in part because she has more experience than other candidates.

“I thought that she had a liberal standpoint that suited my libertarian/moderately conservative needs,” Harstad said.

The scene at the Weisman Art Museum — one of Ward 2’s polling places — Tuesday morning and early afternoon was largely quiet, with small groups of voters arriving over time.

At the Weisman polling place, University alumnus Drew Hockman volunteered for the second consecutive year. Hockman said he views the work as a civic responsibility, adding that compared to last year’s national elections, the polls were basically empty.

The pace was moving more quickly at Van Cleve Park, where many residents of the University’s Southeast Como neighborhood turned out to vote early Tuesday. That area’s incumbent council member, Cam Gordon, is running for the Ward 2 spot unopposed.

Political science and Chicano studies junior Guillermo Perez was among the voters at Van Cleve. Perez said he voted for Dehn because of his stances on immigration and refugees.

Elisa Sanborn, a political science senior, ranked Levy-Pounds, Dehn and Frey, respectively, on her ballot after attending a mayoral panel discussion a few weeks ago.

Jacqueline Noel, a first-year global studies and political science student, voted for Frey at the Weisman polls. She worked on his campaign and showed up Tuesday to support her candidate. 

“I voted for him because I really think that he could bring progressive politics back to the city, and I think that he can make some changes that we’ve all been looking forward to,” Noel said.

For more information about voting in the Tuesday’s elections or to find a polling place nearby, readers can visit the City of Minneapolis’ poll finder tool. For St. Paul residents, this is the link to use.

Ellen Schmidt contributed to this report.