To the Editor:
I grew up in St. Louis Park and always appreciated being part of a community known for its progressive leadership and innovation. I’m excited that my hometown is now considering ranked-choice voting, a system that has fostered a more open, inclusive and representative democracy in our local elections in St. Paul.
RCV eliminates low-turnout, high-cost primaries and it ensures candidates win with the backing of as many voters as possible. RCV puts pressure on all the candidates to provide authentic reasons for voters to choose among them, if not as a first choice then as a second or third choice.
As a first-time candidate for city council in 2015, I appreciated the positive atmosphere of the RCV system. My fellow candidates and I were encouraged to articulate what we stood for – not simply to point out how we were better than the other guy. Running in an RCV system encouraged us to engage with all voters – even those who were already supporting someone else – to explain what we could bring to the job and to ask for their second-choice vote. Voters were more informed about the candidates than they might otherwise have been.
We’re seeing this dynamic play out again in St. Paul as voters consider who will serve as the city’s next mayor. The slate of candidates on the November ballot is larger and more diverse than would have been possible under the old system, and their campaigns are much more positive.
If St. Louis Park adopts RCV, it will benefit from technology and experience already gained in Hennepin and Ramsey counties. The League of Women Voters and FairVote Minnesota, two respected nonprofits with deep RCV expertise, also have pledged to help St. Louis Park with a transition, as they have done in St. Paul and Minneapolis. St. Paul’s transition to RCV in 2011 went extremely smoothly.
I applaud St. Louis Park’s efforts to join the ranks of cities using ranked-choice voting. Now more than ever, voters are demanding a better democracy. Cities like St. Paul and St. Louis Park can lead the way.
Rebecca Noecker represents Ward 2 on the St. Paul City Council. She grew up in St. Louis Park and graduated from Saint Louis Park High School in the Class of 2001.