The dynamism of the Twin Cities as a cultural, economic and political incubator for Minnesota was demonstrated anew in last week's election.
St. Paul and Minneapolis both elected mayors under the age of 40. In the case of St. Paul, Mayor-elect Melvin Carter, 38, is the city's first African-American mayor. In Minneapolis, Mayor-elect Jacob Frey, 36, is a city council member with strong ties to the city's increasingly diverse "Nordeast" neighborhood.
The victories by these two relatively young candidates reflects the renewed vitality of the state's two largest cities. Not long ago, people questioned whether the center cities were viable as new growth moved to the suburbs and beyond. Metro areas across the country have dealt with the same issues, but a funny thing happened on the way to oblivion: People have decided they like living in central cities, are attracted by the amenities close at hand and enjoy the multi-cultural environment they find there. Increasingly, these inner-city residents are young and active, and based on turnout last week, they vote.
In Minneapolis, turnout was 42.45 percent, compared with 34 percent in the last municipal election in 2013. The city long has had a progressive-leaning electorate, and now that electorate appears to skew young as well.
Meanwhile, ranked-choice voting in Minneapolis and St. Paul continues to prove wrong those who have doubts about it. FairVote Minnesota, a nonprofit organization pushing ranked-choice voting, said the tone and substance of the campaigns should satisfy the public. In ranked-choice, candidates tend to appeal to broad constituences, rather than narrow, and they cross party lines. That's exactly what happened this year, according to FairVote.
We think it's time for Rochester to take a look at ranked-choice voting. There's a growing body of evidence that it can make campaigns more civil, substantial and representative, which is what elections should be all about.
In another sign that the metro area is setting the pace for Minnesota at large, several huge school levies, totalling $1 billion, were approved in Twin Cities suburbs. Statewide, 80 percent of school ballot issues were approved, according to the Minnesota School Boards Association. Most of those that failed were outside the metro area, he said.
There may or may not be overarching conclusions to draw from Minnesota's Election Day results, but there's no doubt that the dynamism and enterprise in the Twin Cities, shown again last Tuesday, sets the pace for the rest of us.