Second Ward, Minneapolis

This is the public policy forum of Minneapolis Second Ward (Green) City Council Member Cam Gordon and his staff. We use this space to talk about some of what Cam’s working on, explain his positions, and share a little of what life in City Hall is like. Please feel free to comment on posts, within certain ground rules. See our disclaimer, including ground rules, here:

Friday, June 12, 2009

Council Votes to Move Forward on RCV

This morning, the Council made a momentous decision: to use ranked choice voting in the municipal election this fall. It passed in the wake of yesterday's slam-dunk Supreme Court decision on a 10-2 vote.

This decision is the culmination of years of effort on the part of many people, both inside the City enterprise and out. Here's a list of some of the major players and their contributions:

- Council Member Elizabeth Glidden: chaired the Elections committee and shepherded ranked choice voting through the implementation process.

- Former Elections Director Cindy Reichert: though never completely convinced that 2009 implementation was possible or advisable, still laid the groundwork for using ranked choice voting this fall.

- FairVote Minnesota Executive Director Jeanne Massey: passionately, effectively and tenaciously pushed the City to put ranked choice voting on the ballot in 2006 and to implement this fall. Never lost sight of the goal and never doubted that, with a lot of work, we could reach it.

- City Attorney Susan Segal: led the City's extremely successful response to the Voters Alliance lawsuit, gaining yesterday's victory at the Supreme Court.

- Mayor Rybak: weighed in unequivocally, time and time again, in favor of implementing this year, and put $75,000 in this year's budget to make ranked choice voting happen.

- Secretary of State Mark Ritchie: convened a ranked choice voting issues group that highlighted equipment issues and culminated in the Minneapolis ranked choice ordinance and the ranked choice voting bill at the Legislature.

I'd also like to take this opportunity to point out all the resources my office has put into ranked choice voting since I took office in 2006:

- I led the IRV Task Force in 2006, which made the report to Council that resulted in putting ranked choice voting on the ballot.

- I endorsed the ballot initiative in 2006, and my Aide Robin and I campaigned for it.

- Robin, at my direction, participated in the Secretary of State's issue group throughout 2007. He helped write what is now the Minneapolis ranked choice voting ordinance. He also traveled to Pierce County, Washington last fall to observe their first ranked-choice election, and wrote a detailed report with recommendations for how Minneapolis could copy their successes and avoid their mistakes.

- At every decision point, I have been crystal clear with my colleagues: I expected to use ranked choice voting this fall, and would only vote to not move forward as a true last resort.

Lastly, there is one other group that I believe deserves special recognition for this victory: the Minnesota Green Party. The Greens have been advocating and agitating on this issue for more than a decade. It's been a major plank in our platform since our inception. An unsuccessful ballot initiative in 2001 - which I believe planted the seeds for the successful initiative five years later - was primarily led by Greens. We accomplished what successful third parties typically do to make change in America: we convinced people in one of the major parties to take this issue on and make it their own.

One person in particular summed up this dynamic for me at today's meeting. Diane Steen-Hinderlie has worked for ranked choice voting for years. I first met her as a Green in the late '90s. She gathered signatures in '01, and again in '06. She's followed the issue closely since it passed in '06, and was present to watch - and, as it turns out, applaud - the Council's action this morning. Along with all of the powerful people I named above who played some part in making ranked choice voting happen this fall - Mayors, Council Members, Secretaries of State and department heads - this victory belongs to Diane, and many others like her.


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