AFSCME Member Efforts Reap Elections Success

Thanks to help from AFSCME members, numerous worker-friendly candidates won Tuesday’s election outright or are leading in the polls.

AFSCME members and retirees volunteered hundreds of hours of their time to tirelessly call voters and knock on doors across the state in the weeks leading up to the municipal and school board elections.

In Saint Paul, Melvin Carter was elected mayor on the first ballot, taking 50.87 percent of the vote. His closest challenger only logged 24.79 percent of the vote. That’s a huge feat given that Saint Paul has ranked-choice voting that allows voters to rank six different candidates. All three of the AFSCME-endorsed candidates for Saint Paul school board won: John Brodrick, Jeannie Foster and Marny Xiong.

In Minneapolis, Jacob Frey won as mayor, unseating incumbent Betsy Hodges. Five of our endorsed candidates won seats on the City Council:

  • Ward 2: Cam Gordon

  • Ward 3: Steve Fletcher

  • Ward 7: Lisa Goodman

  • Ward 8: Andrea Jenkins

  • Ward 12: Andrew Johnson

Some of the AFSCME-endorsed candidates who won made history, Carter as Saint Paul’s first African-American mayor; Renee Van Nett as the first Native American woman on the Duluth City Council; and new Minneapolis City Council member Andrea Jenkins as the first openly transgender African-American elected to public office.

In Duluth, all of our candidates swept their races, thanks to conversations with thousands of residents about our labor vision.

The winning City Council candidates include:

  • Zack Filipovich
  • Barb Russ
  • Renee Van Nett

Winning Duluth School board candidates are:

  • Rosie Loeffler-Kemp
  • Jill Lofald
  • Josh Gorham
  • Sally Trnka

Our big push for the Duluth streets referendum, seeking to increase the sales tax by 0.5 percent for a dedicated fund for street improvements, won with a whopping 76.5 percent of the vote. That plan needs legislative approval, demonstrating again the importance of the 2018 elections.

School districts also scored at the ballot box, with voters approving most levies for school operations and facility improvements.

These amazing results to elect candidates who support workers, our families and our communities were only possible thanks to dedicated members. Overall, before Council 5 had even put on the final push to Get Out the Vote, members already had made nearly 20,000 attempts to reach 5,661 members.

Our local elections showcased community, hope and what we can accomplish when we work in solidarity. It was a strong team effort between Council 5, AFSCME International and our community partners. For example, we worked with our union partners in a broader effort to reach out to 27,234 voters, knock on 16,077 doors, create a strong digital presence and send out mailers favoring Melvin Carter.

Our international union provided staffing, data and funding to further develop member leadership skills and our analytics. With their help, Council 5 launched a comprehensive canvas, mailing and digital effort this election, which will refine our efforts to elect a pro-worker governor and House majority in 2018.

Momentum is building nationwide.  Working family issues also lifted labor-backed candidates to governorships in Virginia and New Jersey, delivering a resounding rebuke to the greedy politics of the rich and powerful. Leaders everywhere should take notice, and work hard to create jobs, invest in our future and support worker freedoms.  

The totals reported are final, unofficial results with all precincts reporting, according to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office.