The reality of local elections

Important choices for City Council and mayoral races are made long before Election Day.

Daily Editorial Board

Voter turnout in Minnesota this past November for the presidential election was quite high — approaching 76 percent of eligible voters, the highest in the nation.  However, even though national elections draw considerably more media attention, it is the local elections that impact day-to-day life. For example, the development in Dinkytown, regardless of one’s opinion on the matter, is city zoning and economic conditions that precipitate such events much more than which major political party is in control of Congress or the White House. Yet, voter turnout in Minneapolis’ local elections is significantly lower. When so many factors that directly impact day-to-day life are dependent on local elected officials, including zoning, parking, transportation and even what time the bars close, why is turnout so low?

One possible answer lies in the heavily Democratic-leaning politicians of Minneapolis. By the time a Democrat ends up on the ballot, they are likely to be elected, regardless of voter turnout. Voters that turn out only on Election Day have relatively little say as the candidates have been chosen long beforehand. A common sentiment regarding voting on Election Day is the notion that voters are casting their ballot for the lesser of two evils or against one of the candidates. But there is a way to fix this: Get involved in the process that puts candidates on the ballot. The April 16 DFL caucuses and endorsement conventions will likely decide who the next City Council member is in Ward 3 (encompassing Dinkytown) and the next mayor. The Ward 3 convention will occur May 4, and the city convention will occur June 15. To truly have any say in which candidate will be your City Council member or mayor, become a delegate to the conventions at the party caucus and make your voice heard.