This election brought close races and new faces to the Minneapolis City Council

There's a bunch of turnover on the city council, too.

This week's election brought out more voters than usual in Minneapolis. And the choices made – including second and third choices – will bring lots of changes to City Hall. 

Turnover on the city council

The election of a new mayor was the biggest headline, but voters also elected five new city council members. 

Some of the biggest changes are on the city's north side.

Council President Barb Johnson, who was first elected 20 years ago, lost her re-election bid in a close race with Phillipe Cunningham, a 29-year-old transgender man who's been working on the staff of Mayor Betsy Hodges. 

In a neighboring ward, Jeremiah Ellison (who is the son of Congressman Keith Ellison) defeated incumbent Blong Yang. 

On the city's far south side another incumbent, John Quincy, lost his race against challenger Jeremy Schroeder. 

There were also two open seats, which were won by Andrea Jenkins and Steve Fletcher.


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Second choices mattered

Minneapolis (unlike St. Paul) gave its ranked-choice voting system a workout in this election. 

City officials spent all day Wednesday counting votes because in several races second or third choices had to be tabulated for someone to reach the threshold of more than half the votes cast. (Watch our explanation of how ranked choice voting works here.) 

Seven of the 13 city council races had to go to at least a second round of counting. That's up from just three races last time around in 2013. 

And for the first time since the city adopted ranked-choice voting eight years ago, a city council candidate who held the lead after the first round of counting wound up losing once second and third choices were factored in. 

That happened in the race for the seat Mayor-elect Jacob Frey is leaving. The Socialist Alternative candidate, Ginger Jentzen, had the most votes counted on Tuesday. But the DFL-endorsed candidate, Steve Fletcher, was declared the winner on Wednesday. 

Three current council members – Abdi Warsame, Kevin Reich, and Alondra Cano – also had to wait until Wednesday afternoon to learn they'd been re-elected by narrow margins.

What will the changes mean?

It's pretty early to know for sure, but some activists and analysts feel like the election results will move the city council to the left. 

The director of the Minneapolis group Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, Anthony Newby, told the Star Tribune: “We now have a chance to actually put forward some of the most progressive and forward-thinking ideas in the country.” 

On the other side of the coin was Barb Johnson, who told the paper: “The theme of ‘time for a change’ echoed with voters. And the voters spoke.” 

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