Are you ready to vote in Ward 4 on November 8, 2011? Despite the fact that this is an off-year election with no state or national offices on the ballot, the upcoming race in St. Paul for city council and school board members is one worth noting.
For the first time in St. Paul, the traditional primary race for a spot on the ballot was eliminated in favor of an instant-runoff or ranked choice voting system. The result is one general election on November 8 with a large number of candidates challenging incumbents. Voters will rank their candidate choices and the system will tally rankings until a single majority winner is determined. This year in St. Paul, the race is for seven council seats (Wards 1—7) and four at-large school board members.
The new voting system may not have much of an effect for those of us voting in Ward 4. According to information from Minnesota League of Women Voters only candidates for city council will be selected using the new ranking system. In Ward 4, incumbant city council member Russ Stark has one challenger, Curtis Stock. Candidates for School Board will not involve a run-off. Voters may choose up to four of the nine candidates in the school board election. Anne Carroll and Keith Hardy are the incumbents. Other candidates include Mary Doran and Louise Seeba with DFL endorsements and Devin Miller, the Green Party candidate.
FairVote, contracted by the city to explain ranked choice voting, has a helpful website with more information about the new voting system. In partnership with District 12, St. Anthony Park Community Council, they set up a fun way to give it a try. It was used recently to determine a recommendation for the Metropolitan Council for the two LRT station names in St. Anthony Park. To see the ballot, click here.
To learn more about the candidates, look for candidate forums and “meet and greets” hosted by community groups and neighbors. The League of Women Voters will host a forum for school board candidates at 8:30 p.m. Oct. 24 at Highland Park Senior High School. More information at tinyurl.com/5sstm6h.
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