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Tuesday was a landmark day for local politics in Minneapolis and St. Paul — and the mayoral races were the tip of the iceberg.

Heavy turnout

Minneapolis posted a massive turnout, with more than 105,000 ballots cast. City Clerk Casey Carl said that appears to be a record number of ballots for a municipal election in the city — at least in recently recorded history.

The city’s official tally put the turnout at 42.45 percent, compared to 34 percent in the last municipal election, which was held in 2013.

By contrast, the open seat for mayor in 2013 drew just 80,000 votes.

The last comparable election was 1993, when 104,626 votes were cast to pick a successor to Mayor Don Fraser. Sharon Sayles Belton won that contest.

About 62,000 people voted in St. Paul, which Ramsey County Elections Manager Joe Mansky said was higher than normal.

Ranked-choice votes

In Minneapolis, ranked-choice voting left the mayor’s race as well as a handful of key City Council and Park Board outcomes unresolved on election night.

City elections staff, led by Carl, began to untangle the votes first thing Wednesday, declaring in early afternoon that Jacob Frey was the next mayor.

Counters turned next to a number of unresolved City Council races, including in wards 3, 4, 5, 6 and 9. City Council President Barb Johnson eked out a small lead over Phillipe Cunningham among first-choice votes in the Fourth Ward in north Minneapolis, but Cunningham outperformed Johnson among second-choice preferences, giving him a path to unseat the 19-year incumbent.

Tabulators were back at it after dinner Wednesday to declare an unofficial winner — Abdi Warsame, by a tiny margin — in the Sixth Ward, an outcome that opponent Mohamud Noor criticized on his Facebook page.

After council races were tabulated, they were to take up Board of Estimate and Taxation, at-large Park Board seats and then Park Board seats by district.

Council leadership

Johnson failed in her bid to hold onto a north Minneapolis seat that’s been in her family for nearly 50 years.

Her defeat by Cunningham leaves open the question of who will become the new council president.

“These results show that our community is ready for change,” Cunningham said Tuesday night.

Turnout in the Fourth Ward was the lowest in the city in 2013, but that could be different this year — about 1,300 additional ballots were cast there.


After an overwhelming victory, Melvin Carter will become the first black mayor of St. Paul.

Carter received more than twice as many votes as the second-place candidate, Pat Harris.

Andrea Jenkins became the first transgender woman of color elected to office in a major U.S. city when she won a seat representing the Eighth Ward in south Minneapolis.

Cunningham’s win in the Fourth Ward, confirmed Wednesday, means Minneapolis will have two transgender City Council members.


Socialist Alternative candidate Ginger Jentzen led Wednesday among first-choice votes to fill Jacob Frey’s downtown-area council seat, but ended up losing to Steve Fletcher.

She would have become the first active socialist on the council since the 1920s.

Minneapolis came close to having a socialist council member in the 2013 election, when Ty Moore nearly won the Ninth Ward seat now occupied by Alondra Cano.

Eric Roper • 612-673-1732

Twitter: @StribRoper