By Request: my local political endorsements
A friend of mine e-mailed me this morning to ask if I was going to post up comments on down-ticket races. So -- what the heck. Here's what my ballot looks like, and here are my thoughts on the races.
First of all, just so you know, most of my research on down-ticket races was done via MyVote at the Star Trib website. Second, my ballot is not your ballot; if you are a Minneapolis or Hennepin County resident, some of our races will overlap, but not all. You should visit the site and do your own research.
I'll throw in an LJ cut here for the non-locals. Though I'll say, if you're an American and eligible to vote, GO VOTE.
My recommendations and commentary:
I'm not going to try to write up any commentary here. Really, if you're voting in this election and have Internet access, you've got access to far more eloquent and interesting commentary than any I could possibly provide.
I am not, in fact, a huge Franken fan at the moment. I was worried during the endorsement battle that he would run a very negative, nasty race, and that is exactly what he did. To quote my sister, I love me some Norm bashing, but when that's ALL you're running on it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I would not have hesitated to vote for Dean Barkley if he had a serious shot at taking out Norm, but I've watched the polls, and the sad fact is that he does not. I don't blame anyone who chooses to vote for Dean, but if, like me, you want to cast a vote AGAINST Norm, you'll need to cast your vote for Al.
I'm happy with him so far. I'll admit that part of what I like is being able to tell people that I'm represented by a pro-choice pro-gay Muslim Democrat. It's a good illustration of just HOW liberal the 5th District of MN is.
Sales Tax Amendment
You know what, on one hand I think this is a terrible idea, and on the other hand I really want the funding to be in place. I voted for it, but I'm not going to tell you that you should vote for it.
Jim is so cool. He's not in any danger of losing his seat so I'm not going to worry about making a strong case for him, I'll just note that he is funny, smart, pragmatic, flamingly liberal, and a great speaker. And his kids go to the same school as my kids and he volunteers in the classroom. There's nothing not to like here.
Seat 53 of the Minnesota District Court
Almost all the judicial races have an incumbent and unless there seems to be a compelling reason not to, I normally just vote for the incumbent. I didn't spot any compelling races this time around, but this one has no incumbent. I voted for Jane Ranum because she's the one that's endorsed by most of the Democrats; her opponent, David Piper, is endorsed by most of the Republicans. Some comment last time complained that she wishes to take away constitutional rights from people who were never convicted of a crime, so I did some searching to find out what this person was talking about. That would be the vote on the concealed carry bill; previously, your County Sheriff could decline to issue you a permit at his or her own discretion, and the concealed carry bill took that away. The example she gave was OJ Simpson; he was never convicted of a crime, so under the law (which is now on the books) he would have to be issued a concealed carry permit. Well, NOW he wouldn't, but a year ago -- yeah. Personally, my interpretation of the 2nd amendment allows some fairly strong regulations of the circumstances under which you're allowed to actually bear your arms around my town, so I don't have a problem with her stance on this, but there are people on my f-list who feel very differently and they'll probably want to vote for Piper. Which is fine; nothing I read made him sound terrifyingly evil or anything like that.
Soil and Water supervisor, Seat 3
And now we come to the race you all clicked to read about. (Am I right?) There are four people running for this seat:
Richard A Klatte
My endorsement is for James Wisker; he's a recent graduate in Ecology, and he works in regulation for the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District. Of all the candidates, he seems like the one who would really know what he was doing. His position statement talks about storm water management and other specific issues.
Ben Torell doesn't sound terrible aside from his Overuse of Capital Letters (yes, I nitpick grammar and spelling in candidate statements; if you're smart but have poor writing skills, you'll have someone proofread it for you before you send it to the newspaper!) Richard Klatte talks about making Big Oil pay for cleaning the air, water, and soil they've destroyed, and....yeah, good luck with that, man. But for sheer freakshow value, it would be hard to beat Rahn Workcuff's candidate statement, on the question about his priority issue:
I strongly agree that a marriage should be only between a man and a woman. I am not in favor of same sex marriages. I strongly agree that all MN residence should have affordable health insurance. even if it means new or added cost to businesses. I strongly agree that we dont need anymore increase in taxes, we are all ready being taxed to death. I strongly agree that an increase of funding should be put towards educating our children in grade k - 12. I strongly agree funding should be allocated toward natural resources conservation.
DUDE. Did you file for the wrong office, or what?
Soil and Water Supervisor, Seat 5
This was the hardest race to decide, for me. Because Jeffrey Beck had an incoherent statement with no capital letters in it and no spaces between the sentences ("everybody needs to learn proper ecology principles;and this education needs to start with children in the first grade and needs to continue with our seniors in their evening classes") while Karl Hanson sounds like he thinks you should be able to strip-mine your back yard if you want ("Preserving the public waterways and soil for future generations while allowing private property owners to use their lands with absolutely minimal government interference.") I thought Karl Hanson would actually be more effective and a better person to work with, but I was concerned he might cause harm, so I voted Jeffrey Beck because I thought he'd do less damage. And I don't have to work with him.
Why is this even an elected position? Would it be that dangerous to just appoint for this? Sigh.
Minneapolis School Levy
Yes, they promised us smaller class sizes the last time around and then decided that 27 kids per first grade class was small enough, and yes, the district does have more money per pupil than any other district in the state. But you know what? Minneapolis kids are, in fact, legitimately more expensive to educate than kids in Edina. Do I really need to explain this? Yes? OK, Molly's school has a huge percentage of kids who are in the process of learning English. There are families that are financially comfortable, but the school office solicits donations of grocery store gift cards to distribute to some of the families before each vacation because these families will literally go hungry without the daily free breakfast and lunch for their kids. There are children that come to this school from homeless shelters. This school struggles every day to meet the needs of the students with the resources they've got.
Minneapolis made the hard decision to close down a bunch of schools as enrollment has fallen, but now they have a bunch of closed, empty school buildings that are just sitting there, costing more money, because as you might have noticed the real estate market has gone down the tubes.
They are not spending the money on unicorns for everyone. Budget allocations seem to be based mostly on keeping their collective head above water.
Referendum on Changing How the School District Allocates Seats
This is a referendum on whether to go to a mix of districted and at-large seats, like the Park Board. My vote on this is Yes. I have found it incredibly frustrating that there is no one school board member that I can contact with my concerns, or who has any sort of stake in my neighborhood. The downside of this proposal (and why the Strib endorsed against it) is that it's going to make it harder for the School Board to do controversial things like close schools. I'm not 100% sure that voting for this is the right thing, but I'm willing to take the risk because the at-large group at the moment is so frequently unresponsive. (There are a few exceptions, but still.)
School Board Members
I'm voting for Carla Bates, Jill Davis, and Lydia Lee. Sharon Henry-Blythe annoyed the heck out of me once; I can't actually remember why, which is somewhat embarrassing, but I like the three DFL-endorsed candidates so whatever. If I could cast a vote against one candidate, it would be Kari Reed. She is a homeschooling mom who opposes the funding referendum and says that to solve the district's problems, she's going to look at cost-effective solutions from other areas -- but provides NOT A SINGLE EXAMPLE of things she'd like to emulate anywhere on her website. (And really, I have no objection to homeschoolers, but they have no business running for school board. If you're opting not only out of the public schools but out of school as a concept -- srsly, that's fine for you, and maybe you could run for Soil Supervisor?)
I don't have time to do much with fancy formatting but hopefully this was legible.
Oh, and if you live in California? PLEASE vote no on Prop 8.