OPINION | Vote labor on Tuesday, August 12 in state, local primary elections

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Tuesday, August 12 may or may not be on your radar, but it should be: that’s the day for Minnesota’s primary election.

Your vote truly can make a difference. Primary election turn-out typically is low —and that’s even more likely in this “off year” election without a presidential race.

As a union member, you have a vital stake in the outcomes of the August 12 primary and which candidates advance to the general election November 4.

Voters will be voting in partisan primary contests for federal and state office.

Voters also will be voting in non-partisan primary contests — where only the top candidates irrespective of party advance to the general election.

See page 12 of this issue for the list of AFL-CIO endorsed candidates.

I’d like to highlight some of the local races where a strong voter turn-out in the August 12 primary by union households will be important to ensure that labor-friendly candidates move on to the general election ballot in November.

Minneapolis School Board: MRLF endorses DFL slate

The Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation delegate body voted July 9 to endorse the DFL slate of candidates for Minneapolis School Board. They include: Rebecca Gagnon and Iris Altamirano for two At Large seats, Jenny Arneson in District 1, Siad Ali in District 3, and Nelson Inz in District 5.

For the primary election, the only contest is in the At Large race, with seven candidates on the ballot. Four will advance to the general election.

Incumbent Gagnon and former SEIU Local 26 organizer Altamirano are the candidates who will work best in partnership with parents and educators to move the Minneapolis Schools forward.

The outcome of these races in November will determine the path the Minneapolis School Board takes — either the forward path of investing in our public schools with wrap-around services and community-based schools — or the ill-conceived path of more market-based reforms, more high-stakes testing, and more school closures.

Anoka County Board: Mike Gamache, District 5

Mike Gamache is the AFL-CIO endorsed candidate for Anoka County Board District 5, which includes parts of Fridley, Coon Rapids and Andover.

The incumbent, Carol LeDoux, chose not to run for re-election. She’s been one of labor’s few supporters on the board in recent years.

Mike Gamache has served as mayor of Andover since first winning election in 2000. Mayor Gamache has been a friend to labor — helping pass a prevailing wage policy — and has led many other community-enhancing initiatives.

We need to rebuild a labor-friendly majority on the Anoka County Board. Electing Gamache is vital to that effort.

Brooklyn Park Mayor: Joy Marsh Stephens

Joy Marsh Stephens is the AFL-CIO endorsed candidate for mayor of Brooklyn Park in a four-way non-partisan primary. She is challenging the incumbent mayor. Stephens is 15-year resident of Brooklyn Park and an active community member. She is running a progressive campaign calling for closing racial gaps in jobs and education.

Brooklyn Park City Council: Reva Chamblis, District E

Reva Chamblis is the AFL-CIO endorsed candidate for Brooklyn Park City Council, District E. The incumbent is not running. The primary includes five candidates. Two will advance to the general election. Chamblis is a 14-year resident of Brooklyn Park running on a platform of “Prosperity and Equity for All.”

Bill McCarthy is President of the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation.