When Republican Tom Conlon leaves the St. Paul School Board this summer, he’ll also be leaving Minneapolis and St. Paul with only two elected city officials not from the DFL Party. Conlon announced yesterday his resignation from the office he has held since 1991. He will leave the school board July 6 to run an inn in Asheville, N.C. St. Paul will hold a special election in November to fill the vacancy for the remaining two years of his term.
Conlon’s announcement came two days after he cast the only vote against letting Webster Magnet Elementary change its name to “Barack and Michelle Obama Service Learning Elementary,” St. Paul Public Schools spokesman Bret Johnson tells the Minnesota Independent.
Conlon opposed the renaming as premature (an opinion in line with Arizona State University’s decision not to award President Obama an honorary degree). It was another in a long line of lonely votes Conlon has taken in conflict with the board’s prevailing DFL majority.
With Conlon gone, two Minneapolis Green Party members — Cam Gordon on the city council and Annie Young on the park board — will constitute the remaining bulwark against total DFL domination of elective offices in the state’s two biggest cities.
Gordon appears set to win re-election this fall in a walk. His only announced challenger so far, DFLer Charles Carlson, dropped out amid a welter of unhelpful revelations.
Young is another story. She’s in competition with three DFLers to keep her spot as one of three at-large commissioners on the Minneapolis park board. Her opponents are the two other current at-large incumbents and a former commissioner — all three of whom won the party’s endorsement by acclamation at the DFL city convention last weekend.
Beyond the challenge of running citywide campaigns for low-profile seats, the at-large candidates must contend with what’s being billed as the world’s first multi-seat election to be conducted via ranked choice voting (also known as instant runoff voting, or IRV) — without computers that can do the counting.
The Minneapolis City Council heard yesterday that counting ballots in that election is expected to be so complex that voters may not learn who they elected until after Thanksgiving.
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