Twenty-six candidates declared their intentions Tuesday to run for election in Minneapolis, and the field will grow over the next two weeks.
While many candidates have been campaigning and fundraising for months, Tuesday marked the first day they could file their paperwork to appear on the November ballot.
The local races are drawing national attention and money as Minneapolis grapples with how to change policing and public safety in the wake of George Floyd's murder and amid a global pandemic.
The mayor's office, all 13 City Council seats and openings on the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board and Board of Estimate & Taxation are up for grabs.
Interest in the races is running high. The 26 filings on Tuesday are well above the 15 who filed on the first day in 2017, when the last municipal races were held.
Candidates who have filed so far said the dynamic this time feels different, as the city reacts to crises that have exacerbated inequities and tensions in the community.
"Oh gosh, it's crazy, especially this year," said incumbent Council Member Andrew Johnson, who is running for re-election to represent the city's 12th Ward. Johnson said he expected more competition for some of the races but noted that some elected officials are facing new stressors like death threats as they sort through conflicting demands from impassioned residents. "A lot of situations, there's like no winning," he said.
Johnson said he's running again because he hopes things will get better. He was standing outside the filing office before it was scheduled to open at 8 a.m., making him the first to submit his papers.
Johnson said he always races to the registration office because the first day for filing is exciting, but also because he had a rivalry with a former opponent to be first.
By midmorning, a large group of City Council and park board candidates had gathered in the former Public Service Center, where paperwork needs to be filed in person.
They high-fived and snapped photos for each other as they rotated through the filing office, chattering about the foibles of door-knocking in pandemic times.
Elliott Payne, who is challenging First Ward Council Member Kevin Reich and swept the DFL endorsement conventions, was elated as he emerged from registration.
"It feels good to cross that threshold," he said. "When I put it on paper, there's something kind of magical about that."
The intensity of the challenges facing Minneapolis, including the pandemic and its economic impact on city governance, though daunting, pulled him into the race. "There's no second-guessing why you're running because the challenges we're facing just require you to act," Payne said.
Of the candidates who filed their paperwork Tuesday, four are running for mayor, 12 for City Council and 10 for the park board.
Candidates have until 5 p.m. on Aug. 10 to file their paperwork. Some have said they plan to do so at a later date.
Incumbent Council Member Phillipe Cunningham, who represents the city's Fourth Ward, was among the crowd gathered Tuesday morning.
He came to see opening day but was waiting for his parents to arrive in town from rural Illinois before filing sometime on Wednesday.
Cunningham said he questioned whether he wanted to run again given the toxicity of politics but felt compelled to finish his work on public safety and the Upper Harbor Terminal.
"About October of last year, I really took some time to reflect on whether I wanted to stay in this job," he said.
"2020 was the hardest year of my life. But you know, I'm not pursuing power for power's sake. Instead, it's about how am I fully honoring and seeing through the promises that I made when I first ran in 2017."
A full list of candidates who have filed for office is posted on the city website at vote.minneapolismn.gov. That site will be updated each time a candidate submits paperwork.
Susan Du • 612-673-4028
Liz Navratil • 612-673-4994