Tuesday is Election Day in Minnesota; here's what's at stake

The most talked about vote ahead of Tuesday has been the St. Paul trash referendum.
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Man inside a voting booth

While it's a mere amuse bouche compared to the political feast of 2020, thousands of voters will cast their ballots in a number of council elections and referendums across the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota on Tuesday.

It likely won't measure up to the drama of next year's presidential and congressional elections, but there is plenty of intrigue ahead of Tuesday's voting.

Arguably the epicenter of Election Day 2019 is St. Paul, with the biggest talking point in the run-up to Tuesday being the vote due to be taken on the city's organized trash collection.

A court ruled that the city should not have blocked a vote on whether St. Paul should keep its organized trash collection or revert to its previous system, where residents entered into individual contracts with trash haulers, and ordered a referendum as a result.

The "Yes" voting supporters of the organized trash system, which charges residents standardized rates for citywide garbage pickup, say the system has simplified the trash collection process for residents, and cut down on the number of garbage trucks on city streets.

But opposition in the form of a "No" campaign say they represent some of the residents who are now paying more for their trash collection than they were before, as well as so-called "zero wasters" who are now paying for mandatory collection.

Such is the fervor over the vote, it's bleeding into Tuesday's elections for St. Paul City Council, with MinnPost reporting how several of the candidates challenging in St. Paul's seven wards are firmly behind the "No" campaign.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, a number of cities and counties in and around the Twin Cities will be electing mayors, school board members, and commissioners.

Bloomington will be electing a new mayor following the retirement of Mayor Gene Winstead, with DFLer Tim Busse and Republican Ryan Kulka fighting to replace him.

St. Louis Park, Golden Valley, Saint Anthony Village, and Falcon Heights will also decide on their next mayors, while there are also municipal elections in Minnetonka, Cottage Grove, and Ramsey, among other cities.

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As for school referenda, one of those keeping a close eye on is in Worthington, southern Minnesota, where the school district is seeking a funding boost that has been denied five times in the past five years.

The city's school system came under the microscope of the Washington Post earlier this year, which noted how the city's school population has exploded because of the growing immigrant community, which in turn has sparked pushback from some of the city's long-term residents and the larger taxpayers in the farming community, which has led to previous funding requests being voted down.

MPR News reports that it is among 30 districts across the state asking voters to approve bond referendums, while a further 40 more are seeking an increasing in their operating levy.

Rochester Public Schools is another seeking a bond referendum, one of which would approve the $171 million investment into a new elementary school and middle school, MPR notes, while Sartell-St. Stephen District is looking for an extra $1.77 million a year to ward off cuts.

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