What can a candidate do for you?

Right now, candidates campaigning to get on the November 8 general election ballot are running to clear the first hurdle, which is the primary election on August 9.

  • If voting at your precinct on August 9 is not possible for you, in person voting is available now at Minneapolis Elections & Voter Services, 980 Hennepin Ave E, Minneapolis.
  • Absentee ballots can be requested online as well (search for mnvotes absentee ballot), but they must be returned by mail or dropped off at the address above. Do not request an absentee ballot to take to the polling place on election day. 

In Minnesota, we have the option to choose who we want to be on the ballot for the general election by voting first in the primary election. In Minnesota, we have the right to vote for those on the general election ballot. This is what we can do for our community, state and country.

With the incredible privilege to vote for candidates comes the responsibility to be knowledgeable about how our vote matters. 

  • In the primary voting, we can only vote for one party’s candidates. See your sample ballot showing that party candidates for each office are positioned in one column.
  • With all parties on one ballot, you are not required to declare what party you are voting for.
  • If you vote in more than one column – don’t be embarrassed. It happens frequently. The process is to return the “spoiled” ballot (their term, not mine) and get a new one. It is quick and painless.

The candidates also have responsibilities to deliver clear and simple answers to voters’ questions.  My personal frustration this election season is the number of candidates who claim that they will take action on the high crime rate. Depending on what office they are running for, their action for safer communities might vary.  

With the Minneapolis organization restructuring happening now, the proposed organizational chart (see chart) puts the primary responsibility to address crime in the Mayor’s hands, with the Community Safety Commissioner and City Attorney reporting to him.  

  • City Council members have a legislative power to introduce new laws or amendments to existing laws, and the Mayor must approve or veto, with the City Council having the right to override a veto with two-thirds of the Council voting as such.  
  • The City Council does have a primary responsibility to represent their ward’s residents and bring concerns to the Mayor. 
  • The Council members do not have direct authority to make significant changes to those dealing with public safety on a day-to-day basis. 

Be an informed voter. Look for websites like the League of Women Voters (LVW.org and VOTE411.org) that are not focused on party issues but are providing a resource to how to get registered in your state, look at your ballots, how to get an absentee ballot, etc.

  • For local candidates, look beyond the campaign commercials to see what the person stands for. 
  • What does the candidate put their name on (posting on social media, speaking at rallies, etc.) and determine how much that could impact their service to our community.
  • Be aware of impending issues a candidate may be facing to consider if this candidate’s time will be consumed with other duties.

I personally like the proposed city structure that shows the “Residents” at the top of the chart.  Ultimately, your vote does matter. If you don’t vote, you let others choose the Mayor and City Council members, who make important decisions for our communities.