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John Nephew

Maplewood City Council Policy & Politics


A Few Motivated Partisans

In promoting the idea of even-year elections last year, former councilmember Erik Hjelle mentioned his concern about "a few motivated partisans that sway the election process" in odd-year elections.

I think that this is exactly what happened in 2005 and the ultra-low-turnout 2006 special election, which put Hjelle, Longrie and Cave in office. As turnout has increased in recent elections, the number of votes for Longrie and Cave (and former running mate DelRay Rokke) did not increase proportionally. Stephan Flister discussed this phenomenon on Maplewood Voices last year, in comparing the 2005 and 2009 mayoral primaries; but it can be seen in the council races as well.

Look at these comparisons:

ElectionBallots CastTurnoutCave VotesChangeRokke VotesChange
2005 Primary2228n/a796n/an/an/a
2007 Primary3543+59.02%941+18.22%793n/a
2009 Primary4268+20.46%871-7.44%828+4.41%

ElectionBallots CastTurnoutJuenemann VotesChangeLlanas VotesChange
2005 Primary2228n/a1047n/an/an/a
2007 Primary3543+59.02%n/an/a200n/a
2009 Primary4268+20.46%1759+68%1415+608%

In essence, there seems to be a limited and largely fixed number of people who will vote for Longrie, Hjelle or their proxies. The bigger the voter participation (as is seen in even-year elections, when there are national or state-wide races on the ballot), the less likely it may be that a group like them can hijack Maplewood's city government in the future.

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