Sabo, Davnie win West Bank seats

by Mike Oakes

Seth Woehrle
DFLers Julie Sabo and Jim Davnie dominated the Minneapolis West Bank District 62 state senate and house races, respectively. Sabo earned 72.87 percent of Seward and Longfellow resident votes. Davnie took home 69.21 percent.
Sabo topped Republican Kelly Bailey and Independence party candidate Steve Anderson on her way to fill the senate seat vacated by former DFL Majority Whip Carol Flynn.
This campaign, like those in the district over the last 30 years, focused on the same issues — education, environment and land use.
“I look forward to having a part in the next stage in dealing with those issues,” Sabo said.
She said she will work hard to improve education programs and environmental awareness.
On the school front, Sabo will put to use her 10 years of experience as a north Minneapolis educator.
“We need to be involved in early childhood education,” she said.
Sabo said the environment, education and land use adversely affect each other because urban sprawl can lead to concentrations of poverty-stricken communities and low-quality schools.
Sabo supports fully funded, state-mandated programs and the expansion of all-day, everyday kindergarten. Sabo contends public education is the key to community success.
The environmentally-conscious senator-elect urges residents, public officials and corporate executives to ask that they really understand what they’re putting into Minnesota’s air, water and soil.
“Cars and global warming are cutting edge crucial environmental issues that we can do something about right here right now,” she said.
Sabo said a good step toward an environmentally-sound Minnesota is to preserve, nurture and expand urban green spaces, wetlands and state parks. She will also work to eliminate urban sprawl.
She credits a large portion of her campaign success to the high number of volunteers. Sabo also attributes the early endorsement from every labor union group prior to the state senate DFL convention to her victory.
“I love south Minneapolis,” she said. “It’s an incredible privilege to run in my hometown. This district is rich with talented people.”
Her counterpart, Bailey, said a Republican loss shouldn’t come as a surprise in District 62, which typically votes Democratic.
“I knew what the numbers were before I got in the race,” he said. “But I thought it was important to get new ideas out there.”
Longfellow resident John Dundon said new ideas were the exact reason he voted for Sabo.
“As an outsider she really brings a fresh perspective to politics,” he said.
The DFL convention in March ended without an official endorsement because the party was split between the new Sabo and the same-old insider candidates, Dundon said.
“I know she’ll represent the district well.”
District 62 House
Suspicions were confirmed and predictions proved right as numbers appeared on the televisions at Minneapolis’ Chatterbox Pub.
Supporters watched as DFLer Jim Davnie took the West Bank Minnesota House of Representatives seat left by Lee Greenfield, DFL-Minneapolis.
Davnie is a University graduate and has taught middle school for 11 years. In addition to teaching, Davnie has held leadership positions with teachers unions and community political groups.
Davnie beat opponent, Republican Orlando Ochoada, with 69.47 percent of the vote; Davnie touted education and transit as the most important issues.
“We need to change the terms of the debate on transportation,” he said. “The debate tends to be that highways are acts of God and transit is heavily subsidized when in fact we subsidize both.”
Davnie credited his victory to an aggressive door-to-door campaign, mailings and phone calls.
“We really put the effort on voter contact and I think that paid off,” he said.
Ochoada said he expected a defeat because of the high level of support for DFL candidates in his area.
“While I’m disappointed by tonight’s election, I can’t say that I was surprised,” Ochoada said. “This is a very difficult district for a Republican to run in but I do feel that I gave a good account of myself and the campaign represented the party well.”
Independence Party candidate Mary Mellen finished second with percent 16.68.