Jacob Frey, an attorney, former competitive distance runner, and first-term Minneapolis City Council Member, has been elected the next mayor of Minneapolis.
Incumbent Mayor Betsy Hodges was eliminated after the fourth round of tabulation, and the division of her voters' ballots gave Frey a majority result over runner-up Raymond Dehn, a DFL legislator from north Minneapolis. Frey never trailed in the contest.
"It signals a call for change, and unification, and love," Frey said in a Wednesday afternoon press conference after the results were announced. "Yes, we are a divided city right now, and we have an opportunity to change it. We have the same end goal and vision."
Frey held a significant but not overwhelming lead after Tuesday night's first count of ranked-choice votes, ranking as the first choice on about 25 percent of 104,522 ballots cast, the highest turnout seen in a city election in decades.
Crucially, Frey not only had the lead, but also appeared as many voters second- and third-choice votes. Hodges and Dehn gained on Frey with the elimination of fifth-place finisher Nekima Levy-Pounds in round three, but support for Tom Hoch (knocked out in round four) broke heavily for Frey, who gained almost 10,000 that round, while Hodges and Dehn picked up around 3,300 votes each.
Hodges was defeated in round five, and a fairly even split of her votes gave Frey a comfortable 57 percent to 43 percent margin over Dehn.
Frey, who filed to run for mayor in late 2016, outraised and outspent all but one of his opponents in the race, reporting a total of $588,000 spent through October 31. Only Tom Hoch, the former head of the Hennepin Theatre Trust, had more to burn, with more than $718,000 spent. Hodges had spent about $375,000 toward her re-election by that date, while Dehn ($100,000) and Levy-Pounds (about $39,000) spent far less.
The resolution of the mayor's contest means the city's vote counters will move on to other elections: Shortly after the announcement Frey would lead the city, DFL-endorsed Steve Fletcher was announced as the winner in Frey's former district, Ward 3, where Fletcher defeated the Socialist Alternative candidate Ginger Jentzen.
Ballots are still being tabulated in Ward 9, where incumbent Alondra Cano woke up Wednesday morning with a large lead over second-place Gary Schiff, and Ward 4, where City Council President Barb Johnson and challenger Phillipe Cunningham were neck-and-neck after round one.
*UPDATE: Cunningham has been declared the winner in Ward 4 after a second round of counting, which saw third-place finisher Stephanie Gasca eliminated, and her votes divvied up. Though Johnson, a 20-year incumbent (whose mother previously held the same north Minneapolis seat) had a slight lead after round one, Cunningham collected the majority of Gasca's votes to cross the majority threshold.
Cunningham has become the second transgender candidate ever elected to office in Minnesota. The first one found out she won last night: Andrea Jenkins, the DFL-endorsed former city staffer, poet, and oral historian of transgender history, won handily in ward 8 in south Minneapolis.
Also still too-close-to-call are Ward 1 and Ward 11, where incumbents Kevin Reich (46 percent, first place after Tuesday night) and John Quincy (35 percent, second place) were in close battles to hold their seats. In the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, Abdi Warsame held off a stiff challenge from Mohamud Noor, in a campaign that had turned ugly in its final days.
Almost certainly losing his seat is Blong Yang, the north Minneapolis council member who came under fire for aligning with police following the Jamar Clark shooting in 2015. After one round of voting, Yang is nearly 10 points behind Jeremiah Ellison; Ellison, the son of DFL U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, is an artist and activist who took on a visible role during the Clark protests.
Check City Pages for more election updates as they become available.