Several Minneapolis councilmembers who supported a failed ballot measure to replace the city’s police department were defeated at the polls after being locked in tight races.
LaTrisha Vetaw defeated Ward 4 incumbent Phillipe Cunningham and Ward 11 Councilmember Jeremy Schroeder lost to Emily Koski.
Elsewhere, Council members Cam Gordon, Steve Fletcher, and Kevin Reich were all defeated in the city’s ranked-choice ballot system, according to unofficial results reported by Fox affiliate KMSP-TV.
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Jeremiah Ellison, the son of Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, was determined to be the winner of his race in a close contest. Incumbents Jamal Osman, Lisa Goodman, Andrea Jenkins, Andrew Johnson and Linea Palmisano were re-elected.
Jenkins, Goodman, Reich and Palmisano all opposed the public safety question.
In a series of tweets Wednesday afternoon, Cunningham thanked his supporters and said they laid the “foundation for transforming public safety.”
“Together, we launched a national conversation about the public health approach to public safety and now cities across the country are building on the models we’ve created,” he said.
Candidates needed at least 50% of the votes on the first-choice ballots to win outright. Additional rounds of tabulation are called when that threshold is not met.
Eyes were on Minneapolis as voters rejected the law enforcement measure that would have replaced the city’s police department with a Department of Public Safety. Supporters said it would have focused on public safety through a public health lens.
The effort came after a nearly 18-month reckoning over police brutality and racial injustice that was jumpstarted by the death of George Floyd.
Each candidate faced multiple challenges. In her message to voters, Vetaw, a member of the city’s Park and Recreation Board, said more police officers were needed to address violent crime in the city and increase response times. She favors police reform but noted that officers aren’t trained to handle every emergency and that social workers cannot respond to potentially dangerous situations.
Koski emphasized addressing structural and systemic racism and addressing police reform as well.
Jason Chavez, who favored the police overhaul, won a seat vacated by Councilmember Alondra Cano, who did not seek re-election. He will represent the area where Floyd was killed and many businesses were damaged in the subsequent riots afterward.
After his victory Tuesday, he said he still supports changes to the police force.
“I do support redirecting funds from our current system of policing to address concerns,” he said, according to MinnPost.com. “I don’t think police know how to answer every single situation that they’re tasked to do. I don’t think sending the police to an encampment is an effective method to help our unhoused.”
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Mayor Jacob Frey, a Democrat who also opposed the ballot measure, won a second term Wednesday after a second round of ranked-choice voting.