2021 will be an extremely busy year for Minneapolis voters! In addition to offices like Mayor, City Council and others, there will be three ballot questions for Minneapolis voters to decide.
Ballot questions in Minneapolis:
- Should the city of Minneapolis have a “strong mayor” system, where the Mayor would be declared the city’s chief executive officer and would have the ability to appoint heads of the city agencies?
- Should the Minneapolis Police Department be removed and replaced with a Department of Public Safety, whose wide variety of functions would be determined through ordinance by the City Council and the Mayor?
- Should the city of Minneapolis provide the City Council with the ability to control rent prices on private residential property?
Question 1 addresses whether the mayor should become the chief executive of the city and have power become more centralized in the office (similar to the President of the United States in some ways).
Supporters of passing the question argue that if power is more centralized with the Mayor, the City of Minneapolis would be able to serve its residents more efficiently. “The city’s professional staff described Minneapolis’ system of dividing power between the mayor and the City Council as ‘highly inefficient and significantly influenced by personalities of individual elected officials’, according to the Charter Commission, the body in charge of the city’s constitution.”1
Opponents of the question argue that if the mayor becomes the city’s chief executive, the residents of Minneapolis would have less of a say in how the government functions. Wards with higher percentages of white voter turnout in more affluent areas of the city already have a larger say in who gets elected. They believe this would result in more power for some communities by creating a direct pathway to the executive power of the mayor.
Question 2 addresses if the Minneapolis Police Department should be removed and replaced with a Department of Public Safety.
Yes 4 Minneapolis, the group who wrote the question for the ballot, and other supporters argue the question is not an argument in favor of defunding the police. Instead, it is a proposal to open up additional methods and services that could help keep Minneapolis residents safe. While the number of police officers isn’t addressed in Question 2, those who support the passage of the second question also say the number of officers assigned to a city or neighborhood is not a one-size-fits-all solution. They believe that with the support of mental health and psychological professionals there can be an appropriate number of officers assigned to a neighborhood. It would not necessarily be proportional to population size, but a number that can still effectively and equitably serve the community as law enforcement.
The opponents of this proposition say it is unclear whether there would still be a police force under the broader category of the Department of Public Safety. No minimum number of police officers per members of the population is established in the ballot question and there are fears that if this law enforcement reform proposal is passed violent crime levels could spike. They also argue that the Chief of the Minneapolis Police Department, Medaria Arradondo, is hugely popular and well-respected in the community, and there’s no guarantee he or someone equally as respected would become the Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety.
Question 3 asks if the City Council should have the ability to control residential rent prices.
Those who support the proposition say rent control could directly lead to making housing more affordable by preventing skyrocketing rent rates. They argue that nothing has changed in the housing market that could indicate there are a notable number of building managers whose intentions are to keep rental rates affordable for cost-burdened renters (the majority of whom are low-income renters of color). The process of gentrification—where the character of a low-income neighborhood is changed by high-income individuals and new businesses moving into the neighborhood—often results in the displacement of those who can’t afford to pay the newly increased rent or bills. If rent control is implemented by the City of Minneapolis, proponents assert that it could halt gentrification by attempting to eliminate one of the controls often used to oust low-income individuals from their houses/units.
Those in opposition to this question’s passage make the case that rent control could discourage developers from coming to the metro area, and to that end, rent control would limit the ability of developers and companies to build more affordable housing units. Most notably, they say rent control hasn’t succeeded in cities like New York and San Francisco. As a result of potentially lower profits due to rent control measures, opponents assert landlords may not reinvest in their properties and provide renters with safe and hygienic spaces to live.
Early voting began for the Minneapolis Municipal Election on September 17th, and Election Day is on Tuesday Nov. 2nd. Please click here to find your nearest voting location.
- Yahoo! Money, “’Strong Mayor’ charter amendment would restrain power of the Minneapolis City Council”
Written by Tim Schnell, Grassroots Organizing & Community Engagement Intern