naomikritzer: (witchlight)
So I'm going to note something up front: I am a parent, and I live in St. Paul, but my kids don't go to St. Paul public schools. They both attend a charter school. They used to attend a Minneapolis public school; I pulled them out to attend this charter, and then we moved to St. Paul, so in fact they have never attended St. Paul public schools (although Kiera might do so in the future). So the bulk of my stories about the various ways in which the current Board has made a mess of things are all stories from friends and acquaintances, like the St. Paul teacher who vented a long list of frustrated complaints about her work environment while pressing apple cider at the back yard party we both attended over the weekend.

I've been working on this post for several days now and it just keeps getting longer and longer and longer and harder to organize, so I think I'm going to make this one focused on the backstory, with the caveat that (a) there's a lot, (b) it's confusing, (c) I may get some of it wrong, and (d) I guarantee I'm missing stuff. (Let me take this opportunity to remind everyone that I'm not a journalist: I'm a citizen whose main research tool is Google, and I'm just sharing my research and opinions with the rest of you, often as I'm coming up with them.)

SO. The current board (and the superintendent, Valeria Silva) have done a bunch of things that seriously pissed off a lot of SPPS (St. Paul Public Schools) parents. Some highlights:

1. They moved a lot of kids with emotional and behavioral disorder diagnoses into mainstream classrooms full time. Whether this was a good idea or a bad idea -- SPPS just moving into compliance with existing laws about least-restrictive environments or SPPS going out on a limb with an approach no one else would use in a million years -- not to mention whether these kids were dumped into classrooms with no supports, or given EAs and other help so they could succeed? This depends entirely on who you ask. This reasonably balanced article discusses all those angles and also notes that the kids who were being dumped off in "learning centers" instead of being re-integrated were overwhelmingly black kids. The Bruce Vento elementary special ed coordinator is quoted saying, "We felt that the students had to be perfect before we would let them go [from the LC back to a regular classroom]," and ... yeah, you know, that's not okay, either.

2. The same year, they moved a lot of kids who are English-language learners into mainstream classrooms. Again, whether this was a good idea or a bad idea depends on who you ask. Previously, the kids with limited English proficiency were in sheltered classrooms that focused heavily on learning English and a lot less on content. Board Member Chue Vue (himself a former ELL student) endorses the push-them-into-the-mainstream approach: "Among families of Hmong descent, including his own, the concern has traditionally been that kids ready to tackle mainstream content are lingering in sheltered classes." (Chue is not up for re-election this year.)

The article I linked to mentioned a cooperative model, where both a regular subject teacher and an ELL teacher work together. The teacher who vented to me over the weekend is teaching such a class, but her bilingual assistant finds the subject matter difficult and is basically refusing to do her job. Both the ELL and the EBD mainstreaming is heavily contingent on having good EAs available, and there is also a chronic shortage of EAs, which is not surprising considering that in the last few years they've beefed up the educational requirements but haven't raised the pay.

3. They rolled out iPads to every student, spending $5.5 million the first year and dedicating $8 million in future years. Most of the St. Paul students, at least, are reasonably enthusiastic about this one.

4. They also restructured all their schools to move the 6th graders in with the middle schoolers. This wasn't actually that bad an idea, they just did a crap-ass job preparing for it (like, there were schools where none of the teachers had the right licensure to teach the kids that were arriving.)

5. I think they also did the EBD mainstreaming, ELL mainstreaming, iPad rollout, and 6th grade reshuffle all in the same very busy year. I guess you could argue that you might as well maximize the disruption in a single year and get it over with. That seems to be St. Paul's approach to road maintenance.

6. Then there's the discipline policy. I don't even know what to say about this. Over in Minneapolis, they implemented a policy that said that elementary schoolers can no longer be suspended for non-violent infractions. (Why are elementary school kids ever suspended for non-violent infractions, seriously? I'm sure you'll all be shocked to hear that you are approximately 8 gazillion times more likely to be suspended for non-violent infractions if you're a black kid than if you're a white kid.) Anyway, here in St. Paul....there are a ton of teachers saying that they're no longer allowed to suspend kids due to the district policy, but the Board and Silva have insisted stone-faced that there is no such policy and teachers are totally allowed to suspend kids. Aaron Anthony Benner, formerly outspoken SPPS teacher, then (briefly) active candidate for the Saint Paul School Board, and now Behavior Coach at an area charter school, has a long list of hair-raising stories including one about being punched by a student who was returned to his classroom ten minutes later. Anyway....right now, I think, we've kind of got the worst of both worlds. Teachers are saying they're not being allowed to discipline students for major infractions and yet we still have massive racial disparities in discipline approach.

7. The board approved a new three-year contract for SPPS Superintendant Valeria Silva, who has been controversial, to put it mildly. Shortly after they approved the contract she flirted with taking off for some other district, then a day later said that she was staying in St. Paul. There were a lot of people who were pissed off that they renewed it right before an election, though, thus taking the decision out of the new board's hands.

Back in February when I went to my precinct caucus, one of the groups there was the "Caucus for Change," which had a pretty straightforward "throw the incumbents out" agenda. They did not-exactly-an-endorsement: they gave a general stamp of approval to a bunch of people running, rather than picking their four favorites. There was then a minor drama at the City Convention in April, where after we'd voted on the second ballot a flier was circulated where they'd done an on-the-fly endorsement of Rafael Espinosa and Pa Chua Vang. (It was clear that Zuki Ellis and Steve Marchese were going to get endorsed on the 2nd ballot, and it looked like Mary Vanderwert and Jon Schumacher were on their way to endorsement as well.) It was completely unclear who in the Caucus for Change made this decision or was calling the shots. A few minutes later, another hastily-printed flier went around objecting to the first flier. ("Behind closed doors, a few members of the Caucus for Change made the unilateral decision to encourage support for candidates who are not leading in the delegate voting process. Caucus for Change originally committed to not endorsing candidates. Some members of the group have decided to change this strategy.") Anyway, as far as I can tell, no one paid much attention to either flier.

Caucus for Change is basically the local teacher's union standing behind a curtain. I mean, if you look at their website, they will tell you that they are "a group of parents, educators, students, and community members working together to create stronger schools here in Saint Paul." But scroll down to the bottom and you'll see, "Prepared and paid for by the Saint Paul Federation of Teachers Committee on Political Education." I had a door-knocker last week who was a Minneapolis teacher who'd been recruited by the union to come over to volunteer to campaign for the DFL-endorsed candidates.

I do kind of get why they WANT a curtain. I'm not anti-MFT. (MFT = Minnesota Federation of Teachers.) Teachers deserve to have their interests represented. But I think it's worth remembering that the job of a teacher's union is to represent teachers, not students. Often, the interests of teachers and students are solidly in alignment (that's a link to a news story about the Seattle teachers demanding daily recess for their students). Sometimes, though, they are not. (That's a link to a news story about NYC's "rubber rooms.") There are a decent number of people who are pro-unions as a general thing but nonetheless have some reservations about union-endorsed school board candidates -- one of the things the board does is negotiate the contract.

In this case, I think that when huge numbers of teachers are incensed about the repeated massive clusterfucks created by the current board, this is something that everyone should be paying attention to.

But there's also this, from the candidate questionnaire on the Caucus for Change site: "Caucus for Change is a group of parents, educators and community members who believe that our voices must be at the center of decision making around educational policy. Despite the belief that local parents and educators know best what our children need in order to learn, there has been an increase of money, often from out of state millionaires, with vested interest in pursuing a corporate education reform agenda. Will you and your campaign reject contributions and independent expenditures from out of state millionaires and corporate education reform organizations?" -- that's actually a question about the groups that backed Don Samuels when he ran for the Minneapolis School Board last year. This is the very first question on their questionnaire -- not anything about the safety of teachers, or the education of students, but "will you side with us against the groups we consider our enemies," which particularly makes me raise my eyebrow given that these groups have shown no interest yet in St. Paul. I'm not pointing this out because I'm a fan of these corporate reformers, but if you're a union-funded group running the union agenda and you're calling yourself "TOTALLY NOT THE TEACHERS' UNION, NO NEED TO LOOK BEHIND THE CURTAIN" then I will be honest: that bugs me.

One more bit of background before I post this. There are nine people running for four seats, but only five of them have any realistic chance of getting on the board: the four DFL (and Caucus for Change) endorsed candidates, and Keith Hardy, the one incumbent who decided to run without endorsement. There are also three people on the current board who are not up for election, which means that if the challengers win, they'll control the board; if Keith Hardy defeats one of them, the current board will still control the majority of votes. I am not sure on what issues they can be considered a monolith.
naomikritzer: (witchlight)
I have been dragging my feet on this one, in part because (despite having lived in St. Paul for almost three years now) I know Minneapolis politics better and Minneapolis isn't having an election this November.

Here in St. Paul, we're having a very local set of elections. Citywide, we're voting for school board. We're also voting on our City Council reps, although mine is running unopposed. There's no primary: we have instant runoff for the City Council seat, and it's "pick four, top vote-getters win" for the School Board race. (Both Minneapolis and St. Paul implemented instant runoff for the city offices, but my understanding is that they can't do that for School Board because that process is set by the State Legislature.)

But! It's October 11th, and it's time I start figuring out who the heck I ought to vote for in the school board race, at the very least. (Also, I had a special request for some commentary on the Ward 5 City Council race, plus parking meters are a big issue this year and I would like to take the opportunity to complain about all the stupid stuff St. Paul does with parking restrictions. The Grand/Victoria neighborhood should've had parking meters installed YEARS ago, people. Suck it up.)
naomikritzer: (witchlight)
Marscon is this weekend. If you live in the Twin Cities and find Convergence fun but have never been to Marscon, you should check it out. If you live in the Twin Cities and quit coming to Convergence because it's too crowded, you should come to Marscon because it's like a much smaller version of Convergence.

Here's my schedule, if you want to find me:

Friday 04:00 pm
How Come Nobody's Heard Of Me, Dammit!!
Room 419 (Krushenko's)
Let’s figure out all the things we did wrong!
With: Lyda Morehouse, Naomi Kritzer, mod.; Bruce Bethke, Rachel Gold, Michael Merriam

Friday 09:00 pm
Costuming on a Budget
I Blue Heron (Masquerade Lounge)
Costuming has the potential of becoming an expensive hobby (or even career), but it doesn’t have break your budget. We will discuss where to get inexpensive (or free!) materials, DIY, and tips and tricks for taking advantage of the network, barter and trade strategy. Plus we’ll showcase our own thrifty costume creations.
With: Dorianne McCreary, Naomi Kritzer

Saturday 04:00 pm
Lyda Morehouse Interview
Room 419 (Krushenko's)
Learn about the mind and works of our Author Guest of Honor.
With: Lyda Morehouse, Naomi Kritzer, Interviewer

Saturday 08:00 pm
The Wyrdsmiths: Twenty Years
III Eagle’s Nest (Re(a)d Mars)
GoH Lyda Morehouse is in a writers' group that was founded in 1994. How does a critique group sustain itself for two decades?
With: Lyda Morehouse, Naomi Kritzer, mod.; Eleanor Arnason; other members if they show up. (Probably depends on how their weekend is going.)

Sunday 03:00 pm
Convoluted Quests: The Modern Writing Career
III Eagle’s Nest (Re(a)d Mars)
Book contracts, self-publishing, short fiction, editing... writing careers these days are often made up of a patchwork of options. Join GoH Lyda Morehouse and other professional writers to talk about how they've dealt with current publishing realities.
With: Lyda Morehouse, Naomi Kritzer, mod.; Bruce Bethke, Roy C. Booth, Michael Merriam, Kathryn Sullivan
naomikritzer: (witchlight)
Hey, someone on MetaFilter found my gift-giving advice posts and linked them! This is both exciting...and made me realize I needed to get a move on for this year's helpful gift shopping post. Thanksgiving was really late and I was sort of surprised today to realize how little time left there is.

So, to recap: sometimes, you have to give gifts to people you dislike, because your family dynamics or unwritten workplace rules require it and not handing over something wrapped up in a box or gift bag would be a THING, and it's worth spending some money (as little as possible, of course) to keep the peace.

The basic principles are the same every year. (1) Cheap, but untraceably cheap; if you buy them some bad wine, it can't be Charles Shaw, because everyone knows that was only $3. (2) Minimal effort; should be something you can buy on your other errands or order online with everyone else's gifts. (3) Something you might have plausibly thought they might like, since if you wanted to be confrontational you could have just refused to buy them anything.

As always, I want to note that I don't shop for anyone I don't like -- this annual series came out of hearing a lot of friends talk about the annual trauma of buying something for their obnoxious BIL or their least-favorite coworker they somehow drew for the office Secret Santa. If I do give you a gift, and you hate it, I swear it was accidental. The vast majority of bad gift-giving is accidental, which of course is the cover you need for your deliberate bad gift.

This year's theme is "Almost Generic." Even more common than the "I really don't like this person" problem is the "I really don't know this person all that well" problem, which is why every store from Walgreens to Macys is loaded up with the sort of generic gifts that satisfy a general recurring need in some way, or accomplish some common yet specialized task in a more-efficient way. (Key chain fobs that will talk to your smartphone and tell you where your keys are! Freezable wine chilling tubes!)

Gloves, Scarves, Hats

If you live in a cold climate, you probably go through a fair number of gloves, hats, and scarves, because this stuff gets lost a lot. It also gets dingy over time. Some people like to have multiple sets in various colors to coordinate with outfits. (I care about color only in that I've started buying all my gloves in pink whenever possible, because Molly won't borrow pink stuff.)

Here is a very inexpensive "cashmere feel" acrylic scarf that can be dropped into a gift bag and presented to just about anyone who doesn't live in Miami as a perfectly acceptable winter gift. Available colors include traffic-cone orange and a shade of purple that will only appeal to people who truly love the color purple. This scarf is cheaper and available in some really unappealing moss greens.

You could also give these budget-priced leather driving gloves" which, according to the reviews, will fall apart within days. They're also available in a women's style; these are better reviewed overall aside from not fitting people with adult-sized hands. (Note: you can't actually order these for this Christmas; they're shipped from China and won't come from January. However, low-quality leather driving gloves are available all over. If you're trying them on in person, you can pick some with a scratchy tag and a stiff feel.)

For a hat, look to Land's End. Usually, they're a source of high-quality merchandise, but the reviews for their fleece hats complain vehemently that they are too small for adult heads.

Slippers

Slippers are a classic Christmas gift. Who doesn't like a nice pair of slippers? The thing is, most people have some fairly strong preferences, first among them clog-style vs. NOT. Think about the shoes and slippers you've seen your recipient wear in the past. If they're full-coverage, go for clog style slippers: men's women's.

Wallets

Wallets are one of those "you had one job!" items. You carry it in a pocket or a purse and it's supposed to hold your credit cards and cash so they don't fall out. This one is apparently oversized and made of unattractive materials (but one of the reviewers will also assure you that it's "manly," so no worries about the "purse" bit in the description.) This one is apparently put together in such a way that if you don't fill it up, your stuff will fall out, and if you do fill it up, the clasp won't snap. (Alas! You won't be able to get that one for Christmas this year -- it's shipped from China and they don't appear to have a "priority shipping" option that would get it here in time.)

Watches

I have a friend who fixes watches for a living. He will tell you that a Timex is better, in the sense of accurately telling time, than any expensive watch; expensive watches are mechanical, cheap ones use a battery, and battery-powered watches keep better time. (The purpose of a Rolex isn't really to tell time, obviously.) Anyway, you're obviously not going to buy an expensive watch for someone you don't like. But you could totally buy a fancy-looking watch for less than $10 (or this manlier-looking model for under $15.)

You could also give someone a watch that requires you to tap the screen before it actually tells you what time it is, or this weirdly badass-looking model which claims to be water resistant, totally looks like it ought to be water resistant, and according to reviews, is not even remotely water resistant. Finally, this one is outside the usual price range I shoot for, but
if you're willing to budget $40, you could give someone a world of frustrationwith an alleged smartwatch that arrives with poorly written instructions badly translated from Chinese, that relies on an app that may or may not actually exist, and has been known to break after two charges. (Note: go to the "other sellers" and find someone that's offering it with Prime Shipping -- if it ships from China, you won't get it until after Christmas.)

Finally, for a watch that's super fancy looking yet frankly useless to the vast majority of people in 2014 there's the pocket watch. These are terrific for people who do Steampunk cosplay or who enjoy being extremely retro. For most people, though, if they want to pull something out of their pocket to find out what time it is, they pull out their cell phone. And they definitely don't want a pocket watch in their pocket because it might scratch the screen. In fact, apparently most people my age don't wear watches at ALL (I find looking at my wrist more convenient than pulling something out of my pocket, but I also get a newspaper delivered to my house every day, even though I'm only 41.) Anyway, the other thing about a pocket watch is that if you actually do use it regularly, it will die quickly because pocket lint gets in there.

Heated Travel Mugs

Who doesn't need a travel mug? (A few years ago, during the after-Christmas sales, I discovered a pile of gift-boxed travel mugs at OfficeMax that had been marked down to $3/mug or something like that. I bought six. I'm down to one. I am pretty sure I lose more travel mugs than gloves.) For the passive-aggressive bonus, gift a heated travel mug that will plug into the car outlet and keep the drink warm except that this one, according to reviews, will break almost immediately.

External Phone Charger

If you have a smartphone, you could totally use a compact external rechargeable battery. Unlike most of the products I suggest, I have actually owned this one (not a gift -- I bought it for myself) and can personally vouch for it being a complete piece of crap. (It looks like you can spend $7 more and get a very similar item that usually works instead of one that usually doesn't work -- so if you're giving to multiple people, you could give nearly identical items to the people you DO like, which seems like a passive-aggressive grand slam.)

Gift Cards

People who dislike gift cards describe them as being like given an errand. So make sure, if you give someone a gift card, to pick something that really is an errand. For example, you could give someone a gift card for an oil change. Or a gift card for a set of car washes (you'll need to buy that one locally to you). A gift card for a dental cleaning is probably more than you want to spend, but it definitely says, "I care!" while at the same time offering up a genuinely unpleasant experience. Office supplies are one of those things everyone needs (where else would you go to get printer paper, toner, and ink?) but are always annoying to go get. (At least around here. They're perpetually understaffed and so the wait for service is always too long.) Speaking of long lines, if the person's crafty you could give them a gift card for Jo-Ann Fabric. (I'll go there for other craft supplies if I'm near one and I need something, but I refuse to shop there for fabric; life is too short to stand in that cutting line. Ever.)

Passive-Aggressive Gift Giving Guides from Previous Years:

2010: Beyond Fruitcake: Gifts for People You Hate
2011: Gifts that say, "I had to get you a gift. So look, a gift!"
2012: Holiday shopping for people you hate
2013: Gift Shopping for People You Hate: the Passive-Aggressive Shopping Guide

Also, if you're amused by my writing, check out my science blogging at Bitter Empire: http://bitterempire.com/author/naomi-kritzer/

My (kind of low-volume) Twitter feed: @naomikritzer

Or my fiction that's free online:
Bits (possibly NSFW)
The Good Son
Honest Man (downloadable audio)
Comrade Grandmother
St. Ailbe's Hall

And if you like that you could consider buying:
Comrade Grandmother and Other Stories (short story collection)
Gift of the Winter King and Other Stories (short story collection)
My novels (there are five of them)
naomikritzer: (witchlight)
I have a Nexus 4. This is a somewhat obscure Android-based phone -- I got it because it was reasonably priced and available without a contract. This was significantly cheaper in the long run because I could use a T-Mobile pay-as-you-go plan for $30/month that got me unlimited texting, 100 minutes of talk, and 5GB of data. It is an annoying phone for several reasons: it's too big, and doesn't fit easily into my pocket. Also, the camera's not very good. But I love having a smartphone and overall I've been happy with it.

A week or so back, my phone downloaded the latest Android update, Lollipop 5.x. And bugged me about it constantly. I finally caved last night and went ahead and installed it. This morning, I was a little startled to see how much it changed the look and feel, but it seemed to be working fine. There was one really odd thing: Lookout phone security (this is an app I installed at some point) told me that my SIM card had been removed at 1:30 a.m. Obviously, no one in the house was messing around with my phone (let alone removing my SIM card) at 1:30 a.m., so I figured this was some weird quirk associated with the update and didn't worry about it.

The first thing I noticed was not working: Words With Friends. I was using the old version because I'd found the new version incredibly irritating. I started trying to re-install the new version, and it didn't work. I needed to get going so I didn't worry about it too much; I figured I would troubleshoot it later.

I had a trip to the dentist this morning and spent a lot of time waiting in the chair (I was having a night guard made) and used my time to play with Facebook and Chrome. At one point, I tried to e-mail a link I'd found on Facebook to a friend, and when her address refused to insert itself, I sent it to myself. It didn't show up, which was weird, but just then the dental person came back, so I didn't worry about it. On my way home, I stopped and made a phone call; that worked fine.

When I got home, the message I'd sent myself was in the e-mail on my computer, timed-stamped properly, so I forwarded it on to my friend. When I went out again, I noticed that my phone was running extremely hot. I was having issues with this a month or two back (in addition to providing me with an overly warm phone, this drains the battery like whoa), downloaded GSM Battery Monitor, and kept an eye out to see if there were specific apps that made it do that. Turns out WWF was a frequent culprit, so if I noticed it was running hot, I'd force-quit WWF. That seemed to largely solve the problem. Only today, the culprit initially was Google Play, which was super weird, and then later the Android OS.

When I got home a second time, I realized that I'd had a whole bunch of messages show up that hadn't come to my phone. On closer inspection, sync was not working for any of the Google applications. I was getting error messages about verification issues, only when I tapped the error, instead of giving me a dialog box to put in my password or something, it just re-tried and gave me the same error. I thought maybe it was an issue with Two-Step Authentication (which I use) but when I pulled up my devices in my Google profile security page, my phone was still listed, plus according to Google, it had successfully accessed my account less than an hour ago. (And incidentally, I did receive the message sent FROM my phone even though it was refusing to show me stuff coming in.)

So THEN I tried some troubleshooting, using Google help. That was problematic because the help page wanted me to try to turn sync on and off a few times and the path to doing that does not appear to exist in Lollipop 5. I eventually got to the "try rebooting your phone" spot and thought, "oh, of course I should try rebooting!" And did. At which point Gmail stopped working COMPLETELY -- I couldn't even get it to load.

At this point:

* It has locked up repeatedly at the "enter your unlock code" screen when I try to wake it. Though sometimes it'll do that, then work again 5-10 minutes later.

* It can't decide whether it talks to the cell network, or not. I tried sending two texts to Ed. It told me it sent one, but not the other. In fact, it sent both of them twice.

* I have repeatedly gotten messages from Lookout telling me the SIM card has been removed. (I think this may be connected to the "maaaaaaaaaybe I'm a cell phone or MAYBE NOT!" issue.) I did, at one point, pop it out and re-seat it but this doesn't seem to have fixed anything.

* The battery continues to burn like a fire built entirely out of crumpled newspaper.

* NOTHING RUNS OMG NOTHING except, curiously, Facebook. (So long as it's connected to a wireless network OR talking to the cell network.)

On one hand, I'm pretty sure this update hosed my phone. On the other hand, I'm not sure how. I found other people in the Nexus 4 forums whose phone was rendered basically useless by this upgrade but they can all still make calls and send texts.

So! I guess this is all by way of saying, if you need to get hold of me? Don't call my cell. Also, if you have an Android phone: FOR ALL THAT IS HOLY JUST SAY NO TO THIS UPGRADE.

Methodology

Nov. 5th, 2014 12:24 pm
naomikritzer: (witchlight)
I had a couple of people ask me this year how I do my research. I just want to note again that I'm a hobbyist, not a journalist, so I can't call people up and say "this is Naomi Kritzer from the local paper of record, calling to ask you questions about your campaign." (I tend to assume that real journalists get quick responses to their questions, especially when they're softball questions like "what makes you different from your opponent?" but I may actually be totally wrong about this. I'll tell you this: "I'm a political blogger" does not open doors. People get this nervous, guarded look, like they think you're probably a lunatic.)

My core research tool is Google, but there are some specific techniques I use and stuff I look for.

1. Get the slate of candidates.

In Minnesota, you can get the precise slate of candidates for your precinct by visiting the MN Secretary of State's site and putting in your zip code and address: http://myballotmn.sos.state.mn.us/Default.aspx Once it gets to a month or so before the election you can even view a sample ballot.

The candidate list (though not the sample ballot) usually includes links to most of their websites. This is not perfect: some candidates, including one fairly high-profile one, wrote their URLs down wrong (or they got put in wrong at the elections office.) Nonetheless, the links can save time.

Getting the list is critical for the downballot races because they're so rarely covered in voter guides.

2. Look at the websites of the candidates.

Interpreting a candidate's website can be one of those areas where there's no substitute for a base of local knowledge, because so often there's subtle code. I mean, not always -- sometimes, you have a nice straightforward choice between an obvious conservative and an obvious liberal and you can pick your political philosophy and be done with it. (And in fact, in a U.S. Senate or U.S. House race you should probably just decide whether you like Democrats or Republicans and stick with those candidates, because you're not just voting for Jane Q. Minnesotan, you're voting for her party to control that branch of government.) In local elections, though, this may be a whole lot less clear, and there are more likely to be highly contentious issues that don't break down neatly along party lines.

"Fiscal responsibility" is something of a Republican buzzword and it can mean "I think teachers are overpaid and guidance counselors are a waste of money" but it can also mean "that sports stadium we are now spending a pile of money to build is STUPID and I wouldn't have supported it." "No handouts to billionaires" is a Democratic buzzword and it can mean "I think tax breaks for large employers are always a terrible idea, even when we're offering incentives for hiring the long-term unemployed" but it can ALSO mean "that sports stadium we are now spending a pile of money to build is STUPID and I wouldn't have supported it."

One of the words you'll see a lot in local elections is "transparency." Sometimes this means, "I am totally convinced that if only we posted all our minutes on a website, people would take a sudden passionate interest in solid waste management." Or, "We should hire someone to do VIDEO of all those solid waste management committee meetings and put THOSE on a website. Or local access cable! THE PEOPLE HAVE THE RIGHT TO KNOW. EVERY. DETAIL." Other times it means, "I can't actually claim that my opponent is corrupt but everyone knows he is, and I'm promising fewer no-bid contracts, back-room deals, and mutual back-scratching arrangements." And occasionally it means, "I'm a corrupt jackass and I'm going to do that nifty political trick where I try to suggest my opponent has the exact problems that are my greatest weakness." Again, some knowledge of the local people involved can help.

It's always worth looking to see what they think the issues are, because that all by itself can be extremely revealing. When I'm evaluating politicians, especially at the local level, I'm a big fan of people who will commit to specifics. Everyone agrees that the achievement gap is a problem, so promising to erase the achievement gap is pretty meaningless if you're not saying "...by doing x, y, and z." (Of course, if people are promising totally ridiculous specifics, it's totally fine to hold that against them.)

Endorsements pages are also often very interesting. First off, as a general rule, if someone has no endorsements, that's a good indicator that they're a flake. (I mean, get all your friends to endorse you. At least make it look like your trying!) Second, they may be endorsed by politicians you know you hate, even if they're technically members of your party. (For the record, I loathed Norm Coleman back when he was a Democrat, too.) Or by people you know are nuts. You also get situations where the candidate is saying nothing particularly socially conservative anywhere on their website but has endorsements from socially conservative groups; that's a pretty good indicator that they hold very socially conservative views, even if they're keeping quiet about them this week.

If I'm having a really hard time sussing out what someone is like, I will sometimes go through the list of names on their endorsements page, Google the individuals, and try to figure out whether they run liberal or conservative. I mean, there's limits, with private individuals, but often you'll find out that they're board members of some non-profit, or they work as lobbyists, or they're high-level executives in some industry... this, however, can be a whole lot of work.

3. Google the candidates.

If a candidate has a very common name, or if they share a name with a celebrity, I'll try adding the state, the city, the county, the job they're running for, their political party if I know it, each political party in turn if I don't, and various relevant issues.

Sometimes, I will look specifically for news stories. You can adjust the dates on Google News if you click "Search Tools" on your results page, and look for stuff that's less recent. There are certain local sources I'll always click on. One of my favorites is the City Pages, because their searchable archive goes way back and they've always liked covering scandals. Obviously I'll click if I spot a Star Tribune link. I also like mnpost.com and tcdailyplanet.net. If I hit a really old article that looks promising but appears to only be in a paid archive (Highbeam, for instance), I make a note of where it appeared and visit my local library's website; they have paid access to a bunch of news databases. Usually, the stuff I'm after doesn't require archaeological skills, but every now and then I really have to dig. (It helps a lot if I have some idea of what I'm digging for.)

I look for candidates' Twitter feeds and Facebook pages; sometimes I can get more information on them that way (sometimes they're just very, very boring -- serious campaigns for high-level offices always have Twitter feeds but they tend to be shockingly dull.)

If I'm really digging (especially in minor races where I haven't been able to find much) I will look people up on LinkedIn. That can be a good way to see if this minor candidate has some qualification for the office they're running for. Also, sometimes there's stuff that will tip you off about their views and/or agenda.

Blogs are great. I'm always really excited when I find a blog, especially if it's from a few years ago, before this person was thinking about running for public office, and they might actually say what they think instead of couching everything in politically palatable euphemisms.

Minneapolis has a long-standing mailing list called the Issues List which is archived online. Sometimes I can find a fantastic gossipy discussion full of invective that relates to a particular candidate. It's fun when it's people talking about them; it's even MORE fun when they were a participant.

Interviews with candidates are basic but sometimes very solid. Interviews from a partisan source are more likely to be interesting. (Bonus points when the candidate forgets that Democrats AND Republicans will be able to read this interview.) Voter's Guides, of course, if they filled them out. If they refused to fill out a Voter's Guide that can also be revealing. (Sometimes what it reveals is, "this is not a serious candidate.")

4. Watch video / listen to radio.

This is not my favorite research method but I will do it occasionally. It can be particularly interesting if you can dig it up from primary season. Something I realized this time is that you can make a YouTube video skip five seconds forward or backward by using your arrow keys. (You have to start it, pause it, and restart it in order to activate that feature. It's possible it doesn't work on all videos.) This is especially good to know if you're trying to watch a primary-season debate during the main season because who cares what Kurt Zellers said?

Sometimes, candidates will put all their substantive ideas on videos so you have to sit through them yammering to find out what they think about anything. I hate that approach so profoundly that all by itself it's going to be a huge strike against any candidate who does it. I have a lot of races to research and a lot of candidates to sift through, and I can read a lot faster than I can listen.

5. Ask questions.

Sometimes I want to know something about a candidate's stance that's not on their website, and I will e-mail them to ask for more information. I've had a wide range of responses to this, from prompt helpful e-mails back to "can you please call me so we can chat? here's my number" to complete radio silence.

I get mixed results with this. Jeff Johnson (GOP candidate in the governor's race) ignored me. Hannah Nicollet (Independence candidate in the governor's race) asked me to call her, which I did, and we talked on the phone for a bit. Nelson Inz asked me to call him, which I ended up not doing. Jay Larson e-mailed back to ask me for a more specific question, but then did not follow up with a response to my more specific question. (I'd asked him how he differed from his opponent; he wanted to know a more specific concern so I asked him about the District 5 high school options. No reply.)

Asking me to call is fine. E-mailing back is fine. Having a campaign worker e-mail back is also fine. For someone in a local race to never respond at all is not fine and communicates a tremendous amount of arrogance, IMO. If I really want an answer I may try Twitter and the campaign Facebook page as well. (I tried that with Mark Andrews during last year's mayoral race and he did not answer me ANYWHERE. I sort of wondered if he was avoiding me because he thought I was nobody, or if he was avoiding me because he knew who I was and did not expect a favorable writeup?)

When a candidate persistently ignores me I always wonder if they ignore reporters, too. I don't usually lead with "I'm a blogger" -- I just tell them I'm researching candidates for the upcoming election and I have a question about X, here's my e-mail address, thank you. But, if they Google me, they'll find my blog. And I know some of the local politicians know who I am! (I am "Minnesota sci-fi writer and astute local political commentator," thank you, Gawker. I think I'm going to put that on my business cards.) But fundamentally, when I write to a candidate, I'm writing as a voter. And I think I deserve as much of a response as any other voter. I don't expect a personal reply when I write to Obama or Franken or Dayton (or McFadden or Johnson, before yesterday). But I do expect a personal reply when I write to my State Legislator or my City Council Rep -- not necessarily from them, but from their staff or a volunteer.

When I wrote to my City Council rep in St. Paul to grouse about the horrifying road work being done on Ford Parkway this fall and the fact that it was happening at the same time as Montreal Ave was closed, I got a fairly lengthy and apologetic e-mail back from their aide explaining why the scheduling happened the way it did. (It involved a fight for funding in one case, and a lawsuit regarding who they hired in the other, and then a desperate attempt to get everything done ASAP before winter. Annoying as hell, but it would be worse NOT to do the work, so...) When I wrote about the horrific mess that was Hamline Ave last spring, I got a similarly apologetic e-mail along with a promise that they were going to re-pave Hamline before winter. Which they did, hurray!

On a super fundamental level, that's what accountability looks like to me: a willingness to answer my questions, to respond to me when I have a complaint. I don't expect that to be instant; my elected officials have lives, kids, other jobs, other constituents. I don't always expect to get what I want; all resources are limited, and (hopefully) my elected officials have a broader perspective than I do on what those short-term hassles will get us in the long run.

Anyway, if someone won't answer my questions before they get the job, they're certainly not likely to answer my questions after they get the job.

6. Share.

If you're going to do this sort of work researching your local political races, your friends will appreciate it if you share, especially if they hold similar political views. I don't know how big my readership is at this point, just that it's way beyond my circle of personal friends because they found it useful enough to pass along.

Before I post stuff online, I try to organize my information: I want to have links to my sources. If someone dislikes my opinion, they can follow those links and form their own. My writeups tend to have a lot of snark, because that's part of what makes this fun for me. I do, however, try to avoid committing libel. If something's been alleged, I try to remember to say it's an allegation. If I'm expressing an opinion, I try to make sure it's expressed as an opinion.

I usually break do a separate post for each race, but if I have a lot to say about the candidates in some race I might break that one down by candidate because novella-length blog posts are annoying both to write and to read.

Shortly before the election I collect all my endorsements onto one page.

Local elections matter a lot. I was talking about this today with a friend on Facebook. It's weird to me that people focus so heavily on the national elections, to the exclusion of the local races, given how much of your day-to-day quality of life is the result of stuff your state legislature and city council are doing (or not doing). You are not under any obligation to be exhaustively thorough: you can just sit down with your sample ballot and check out a few websites and ignore anyone who isn't easy to find.
naomikritzer: (witchlight)
Important election day note: the poll workers at my polling place were telling everyone to shut off their cell phone. You may want to bring a hard copy when you to vote, just in case.

Note: This is based off the sample ballot in my former precinct, which may be different from yours. I suggest you go to http://myballotmn.sos.state.mn.us/ and put in your own address to see your own ballot so that you can research any miscellaneous races that I might not have covered.

U.S. Senator
AL FRANKEN

U.S. Representative District 5
KEITH ELLISON

State Representative District 63A
JIM DAVNIE

Governor & Lt Governor
MARK DAYTON AND TINA SMITH

Secretary of State
STEVE SIMON

State Auditor
REBECCA OTTO

Attorney General
LORI SWANSON

County Commissioner District 4
PETER MCLAUGHLIN

County Sheriff
EDDIE M. FRIZELL

CITY QUESTION 1 (Minneapolis)
YES

CITY QUESTION 2 (Minneapolis)
YES

School Board Member at Large (SSD #1) (Elect 2)
REBECCA GAGNON
IRIS ALTAMIRANO

School Board Member District 5 (SSD #1)
NELSON INZ

Associate Justice - Supreme Court 2
WILHELMINA (MIMI) WRIGHT

Associate Justice - Supreme Court 3
DAVID LILLEHAUG

Judge - 4th District Court 16
JAMES A. MOORE

Judge - 4th District Court 43
BRIDGET ANN SULLIVAN

Judge - 4th District Court 53
BEV BENSON

Judge - 4th District Court 61
AMY DAWSON
naomikritzer: (witchlight)
Important election day note: the poll workers at my polling place were telling everyone to shut off their cell phone. You may want to bring a hard copy when you to vote, just in case.

Note: This is based off the sample ballot in my own precinct, which may be slightly different from yours. I suggest you go to http://myballotmn.sos.state.mn.us/ and put in your own address to see your own ballot so that you can research any miscellaneous races that I might not have covered.

U.S. Senator
AL FRANKEN

U.S. Representative District 4
BETTY MCCOLLUM

State Representative District 64B
DAVE PINTO

Governor & Lt Governor
MARK DAYTON AND TINA SMITH

Secretary of State
STEVE SIMON

State Auditor
REBECCA OTTO

Attorney General
LORI SWANSON

County Commissioner District 5
RAFAEL E. ORTEGA

Soil and Water Supervisor District 4
CARRIE WASLEY

Associate Justice - Supreme Court 2
WILHELMINA (MIMI) WRIGHT

Associate Justice - Supreme Court 3
DAVID LILLEHAUG
naomikritzer: (witchlight)
This is the last of the elections on either my St. Paul or my former Minneapolis ballot. If anyone has special requests for coverage of a Minneapolis or St. Paul race that wasn't included, let me know in the comments or by e-mail.

This is another open seat. They're replacing Judge Robert M. Small, who was appointed in 2006 and first elected in 2008, and is not running again.

AMY DAWSON
BEVERLY J. AHO

Read more... )

Endorsement: Amy Dawson.

And, hey! If reading my election blogging has made you say to yourself, "gosh, I appreciate Naomi's work so much; if only she had a tip jar!" you can feel free to go donate to the 4-H CWF Fundraising group here: https://givemn.org/project/Minnesota-Urban-4-H-Citizenship-Washington-Focus-Trip -- funds raised via the GiveMN page will go toward the whole group.
naomikritzer: (witchlight)
I did most of the research on this one a few days ago and then let it sit because it was one of those races where I just didn't feel like I had that much to say, and for some reason that felt a lot harder to sit down and do than the races where I pretty much can't shut up.

This is an open seat. Judge Jane Ranum isn't running again.

Running for this seat:

Bev Benson
Chris Ritts

Read more... )
naomikritzer: (witchlight)
One of the oddities this year in Hennepin County is that there are, in fact, three actual open seats in the judicial races. I did a cursory look at all three races and it looks like there's one that's a battle between two liberals; one that's a person with a bunch of supporters vs. a person with no supporters; and one that's clearly a liberal vs. a conservative.

This one is a liberal vs. a liberal:

PAUL SCOGGIN
BRIDGET ANN SULLIVAN

Read more... )

I'm going to hold off on making an endorsement in this race and see if anyone can add anything, particularly on Bridget's ideas on ADR and Paul's reputation for arrogance (says who? based on what?) Frankly, both of these people look to me like they'd probably be good judges.
naomikritzer: (witchlight)
This one's going to be a lot shorter than the last one.

Running for this judgeship:

BRUCE MICHAEL RIVERS
JAMES A. MOORE

Read more... )

Vote for James A. Moore.
naomikritzer: (witchlight)
I'm going to be honest: this is the sort of juicy, hilarious trainwreck of a race that I love blogging about. Or at least Michelle's half of it is; David Lillehaug is thoroughly respectable and has been endorsed by loads of people on both sides. So if you're really only reading these to get a list of who to vote for, just make sure you vote for David Lillehaug. If you're not actually in Minnesota anyway and read these because election drama can be so entertaining, go pop yourself some popcorn because you are in for a SHOW.

MICHELLE L. MACDONALD
DAVID LILLEHAUG

Read more... )

TL;DR vote for Lillehaug. Oh, believe me, vote for Lillehaug. Even if you think you don't like him, vote for Lillehaug.

Also, if you're a Republican, you guys really need to step up your game in terms of vetting judicial candidates you'd like to endorse. Or just quit with the endorsing because this one did your whole party no favors.
naomikritzer: (witchlight)
The Minnesota Supreme Court has seven justices and is the highest court in the state. The two seats that are up for election this time are both justices who were originally appointed by Mark Dayton; of the other sitting justices, four were appointed by Tim Pawlenty and one, Alan Page, was elected.

Here's who's running for this seat:

JOHN HANCOCK
WILHELMINA (MIMI) WRIGHT

Mimi Wright is the incumbent.

Read more... )

This one's easy: Mimi Wright.
naomikritzer: (witchlight)
How to choose judges is not something Americans exactly have a consensus on. In Minnesota, we have elections, but a lot of the time there's sort of an end run around this by appointing people mid-term so that the first time they stand for election, they're running with the advantage of incumbency. A few years ago the major parties started endorsing judges -- I can't remember where previously there was a rule against it, or if it was just not the custom. Judicial candidates tend not to trumpet their party endorsements and instead let you know subtly by mentioning various prominent people with known party affiliations as "supporters."

There's a group in Minnesota that's lobbying to change the way we do judicial elections. They suggest a merit-based appointments system after which judges stand election every four years with a yes/no vote. I tend to think this would be a better way to do it, because it means that if someone's really incompetent we can just focus on getting people to vote NO on that particular judge.

I am not personally an expert on all the different ways out there to pick judges. My father, on the other hand, actually is exactly that sort of expert. Actually, he's expert on lots of things: he's a Political Science professor with a specialty in the American judicial system, and he's studied comparative judicial systems, the effect of contingent fees, mediation, and he did one project we all called the Lawyers in the Mist project where he spent about six months observing lawyers interacting with clients (with the permission of the clients.) Next year, his book Justices on the Ballot: Continuity and Change in State Supreme Court Elections is coming out from Cambridge University Press, and anyone who's got a strong investment in the question of how we choose judges might want to take a look.

Possibly the finding from my father's recent research that I found the most entertaining: there really is a town out there that elects its dogcatcher (well, "Animal Control Officer.") So if you've ever heard heard somebody joke that Ole Savior couldn't get elected dogcatcher, there's actually a town he could move to where he could, in fact, add that to his collection of electoral losses.

The problem of avoiding partisanship in judicial races is one that doesn't have a simple solution. My father gave me an extended explanation of a convoluted system that involves merit, a committee that makes recommendations, confirmation by elected officials (but with some rules in place to discourage them from turning anyone down without a good reason), and retention elections.

Alternately, you can just throw in the towel and embrace partisanship, which is more and more what Minnesota is moving to, I think.

Of course, there are all sorts of issues I want to avoid in the judiciary that are not as straightforward as liberal vs. conservative. I am very wary of judges who would assume that the police would never, ever lie (I kind of expect some degree of pro-police bias in judges, but in a situation where a dozen witnesses plus the physical evidence say one thing happened and a police officer says another thing happened, I want a judge who will be willing to at least ENTERTAIN the possibility that the cop is lying.) I am similarly wary of judges who have a bias toward the bigger, wealthier party in lawsuits, or who fail to realize the impact of being the target of a SLAPP suit has on private citizens. Finally, the sad fact is that when people run against incumbent judges, they're frequently flakes or weirdos. I have a strong anti-flake bias regardless of office.

Anyway, at the moment most judges have dignified, non-partisan web sites that seek to communicate gravitas and hint in only the most discreet ways at whether they're likely to swing liberal or conservative. Makes it harder. But! We are weeks away from the election so I'd better get going on this.

Just a note: I am only planning to research and write about the contested judicial races. (If there's a serious write-in campaign happening in any of the uncontested races, please let me know.)
naomikritzer: (witchlight)
Sometimes I do all my research by googling and reading web sites and articles. Other times I have questions I want answered. The problem with asking questions is that I never know how long to wait. On one hand, I don't want to have to revisit races over and over as responses trickle in. On the other hand, I have both a deadline and a preference for doing things in order.

The other thing that's hard about questions is that with Minneapolis races, I can no longer truthfully say that I'm trying to make up my mind about who to vote for and leave it at that. And when you tell people that you're a political blogger trying to decide who to endorse, people get really wary, like they think you're an absolute nut, at least if they haven't heard of you.

Anyway, since I'm waiting on responses, it's possible I'll have to revisit this one. We'll see.

The Minneapolis School Board has both at-large seats (there are two open, and four candidates; I wrote about that post already) and Districts (which are the same as the Park Board districts). I was happy when they implemented districts because as a Minneapolis parent who did not live in the bottom left-hand corner of the city I felt rather thoroughly ignored a lot of the time. It was particularly infuriating to drive past the gleaming windows of brand-new schools in Southwest Minneapolis when the district had spent years and years and years letting a closed-down school four blocks from me sit empty. (Not finding a new use for it, not selling it, just letting it sit there.)

They implemented the district-based seats four years ago and in fact almost immediately they came up with something to do with Howe. (They re-opened it, actually -- it's now grades 3-5 for Hiawatha-Howe, with grades K-2 down at Hiawatha. I have mixed feelings about that solution, but whatever, you know what, at least it's not SITTING THERE EMPTY so I WILL TAKE IT.)

The guy who served as the District 5 school board rep for the last four years decided not to run again because it's a high-stress full-time job that pays less than $15K/year. The candidates:

NELSON INZ
JAY LARSON

Read more... )

My recommendation here is Nelson Inz. He's qualified; his endorsements combined with his work history suggest that he'll bring a balanced attitude toward charter schools, which I think is a good thing; he's running energetically for the job.
naomikritzer: (witchlight)
Soil and Water Supervisor is one of those down-ballot races that doesn't get a lot of attention. The Ramsey Conservation District is also sometimes called the water board; their job is to enact policies and encourage behavior to control runoff, both to conserve soil and to protect the bodies of water around the area (both lakes and rivers). Apparently people are a bit more aware of what they do in rural, agriculturally focused areas.

I think Hennepin County may have given up on electing these people, but Ramsey still does. There are two seats up for election this year; one is unopposed. In District 4, we have:

TOM PETERSEN
CARRIE WASLEY

Carrie is the incumbent. Neither has a web site.

Read more... )

I will admit I'm concerned about the hints of massive drama. On one hand, I ought to give you credit if you led the charge against incompetent management, restoring integrity and financial stability to whatever board you're on. On the other hand, I feel this strong sense of suspicion to people who have that sort of drama swirling around them, when it's them telling me what a hero they were. But, it's Soil & Water; expecting someone ELSE to vouch for their heroism may be an unreasonable expectation, and if Tom Petersen wanted to give me the other side of the story, well, he hasn't.

I'm provisionally endorsing Carrie Wasley.

Edited to add:

Tom Petersen did set up a website at some point, here: http://tompetersenforrcd.com/ He was a staff member for the Ramsey Conservation District. ("I was employed by the district for nearly 30 years and served with many of the very first elected supervisors. I am very proud of the Ramsey Conservation District, its Board of Supervisors, and how it has served both the citizens and natural resources of Ramsey County.") I sort of wonder if he was involved in the massive drama Carrie's talking about, but without more details, I'm not sure which of them to view as the hero and which as the villain here. Or if, in fact, it was drama that involved other people, and he just retired but wants to continue public service. (I have to admit that the fact that he stopped working as a paid job and is now running against an incumbent for an unpaid job makes me think it's probably not the latter.)

The other detail I ran across is that Carrie Wasley is endorsed by the DFL.

I'm sticking with my endorsement of Carrie, although Tom Petersen's web page suggests that he's a committed and knowledgeable person as well and honestly I have no idea what to make of the backstory. No one's dropped by to fill me in.
naomikritzer: (witchlight)
Welcome to the most mysteriously contentious race of the year! This is a surprising one, actually. You rather expect the acrimony to be found mostly in races for jobs you can imagine wanting. I mean, I don't want to be governor, but at least being Governor of Minnesota is a job that comes with some decent perks. You're paid enough to live on and they lend you a spiffy house. Whereas the Minneapolis school board jobs are genuinely terrible. You're paid a part-time salary (under $15K/year) for a more-than-full-time job where being hated by lots of people is a major function and anytime you have to make some painful and complex decision like whether to close down a half-empty school, at your next big meeting you can fully expect people to show up and tell you to your face that you're a terrible person.

This is a race that also tends to be ruled by the DFL endorsement -- the action is often at the endorsing convention. This year, the wild card is Don Samuels, who had no shot at a DFL endorsement for school board (the teacher's union does not like him at ALL) but has the profile and name recognition to make a serious run without it.

There are four people running for two seats:

REBECCA GAGNON
DON SAMUELS
IRIS ALTAMIRANO
IRA JOURDAIN

Rebecca and Iris have the DFL endorsement, and Rebecca is an incumbent.

Read more... )

I think I'm going to come down on the side of Iris and Rebecca but I may change my mind before the election.
naomikritzer: (witchlight)
Minneapolis has two charter questions on the ballot. The fact that these rules are currently written in the charter means that in order to change them, they have to pass citywide referendum. Here are the two questions:

CITY QUESTION 1 (Minneapolis)
FILING FEE FOR CITY ELECTED OFFICES
Shall the Minneapolis City Charter be amended to increase the filing fees for candidates seeking City elected offices from the current fee of $20 for each office to $500 for the office of Mayor, $250 for the office of Council Member, $100 for the office of Board of Estimate and Taxation Member, and $100 for the office of Park & Recreation Commissioner and, as an alternative to payment of a filing fee, allow a candidate to submit a petition of voter signatures as provided in state law?

CITY QUESTION 2 (Minneapolis)
REMOVE MANDATORY FOOD REQUIREMENTS FOR WINE LICENSES
Shall the Minneapolis City Charter be amended to remove the requirement that businesses holding on-sale wine licenses in the City must serve food with every order of wine or beer and to remove mandatory food to wine and beer sales ratios?

Read more... )

My recommendation is to vote YES on both of these.
naomikritzer: (witchlight)
So FYI, I'm not going to blog about uncontested races unless someone's running a very serious write-in campaign. In Ramsey County, the Sheriff (Matt Bostrom) and County Attorney (John Choi) are running unopposed. In Hennepin County, County Attorney Mike Freeman is running unopposed, but there's a race for County Sheriff.

Also, for some reason Sheriff is one of those words I can never spell. I always want to put in two r's. So I apologize in advance if I get it wrong somewhere in this post.

Here's who's running:

EDDIE M. FRIZELL
RICH STANEK

Read more... )

Bottom line -- I would vote for Eddie Frizell.
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