Voters and candidates campaign and visit the polls on Election Day 2021. Credit: Ben Hovland & Jaida Grey Eagle | Sahan Journal

After Tuesday’s election, the makeup of the Minneapolis City Council shifted in both diversity and ideology.

For the first time in history, a majority of city’s council members will be people of color. Elliott Payne, Robin Wonsley Worlobah, LaTrisha Vetaw, Jeremiah Ellison, Jamal Osman, Andrea Jenkins, Jason Chavez, and Aisha Chughtai all won election.

Immigrants and people of color also got elected to several open school board seats across the metro. Minneapolis rejected a vote to overhaul the city’s public safety system. Minneapolis voters also approved an increase the powers of the mayor’s office. Or not.

Voters in Minneapolis and St. Paul both voted affirmatively on rent control measures. 

Sahan Journal followed these 2021 election results throughout Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon, with a special eye on how immigrant candidates and candidates of color fared. The results are below.


Charter Amendments

Voters weighed in on charter amendments to strengthen the mayor’s powers, replace Minneapolis Police Department with a new public safety department, and allow the City Council to pursue a rent control policy.

UPDATED Nov. 2, 10:40 p.m. With all precincts reporting, Minneapolis voters approved the strong mayor charter amendment 53 percent to 47 percent.

Minneapolis voters rejected Question 2 to overhaul public safety 56 percent to 44 percent.

Voters also approved Question 3, which will allow City Council to pursue rent control policies, 53 to 47 percent.


Mayor Jacob Frey won a second term. Former state representative Kate Knuth, who runs an environmental consulting firm, came in second. Sheila Nezhad, a community organizer, and court mediator AJ Awed also challenged Frey.

UPDATED Nov. 3, 3:00 PM. After a second of ranked-choice vote tabulation, Frey won reelection. Frey beat Kate Knuth in the final round by 11 points. His re-election represents a strike against the movement to overhaul policing following the murder of George Floyd. 

The mayoral race has largely centered on the debate over the future of policing in Minneapolis. Frey told Sahan Journal in April about steps he has taken to reform the Minneapolis Police Department. But his opponents call his reform efforts insufficient, and say he embraced the status quo by not supporting the public safety amendment.

City Council

Minneapolis voters delivered a shake-up to its City Council. The 13-member council will be the most diverse in the city’s history. It’s also shifting to the middle ideologically.

Business consultant Elliott Payne, who is Black, ran a strong campaign as a progressive challenger to incumbent City Councilor Kevin Reich to represent the city’s Northeast neighborhoods. 

UPDATED Nov. 3, 3:00 PM: After two rounds of tabulation, Payne defeated Reich in first- and second-round votes by nearly 15 percentage points.

UPDATED Nov. 3, 3:00 PM: Left-leaning challenger Robin Wonsley Worlobah, a community activist and Democratic Socialist, defeated centrist candidate Yusra Arab in the third round by just 19 votes. Wonsley Worlobah will represent Ward 2 in southeast Minneapolis, an area that encompasses Prospect Park and parts of downtown. She will replace longtime incumbent Green Party Council Member Cam Gordon, who came in third place.

With Wonsley Worlobah’s win, the City Council gains a new Black representative. 

UPDATED Nov. 3, 3:00 PM: North Minneapolis sees one moderate challengers oust a progressive City Council member.

In Ward 4, incumbent Phillipe Cunningham lost his seat by a two-to-one margin to moderate candidate LaTrisha Vetaw, a current Park Board commissioner.

LaTrisha Vetaw poses for a portrait inside of her campaign offices in north Minneapolis on Sept 21, 2021. Credit: Jaida Grey Eagle | Sahan Journal

In Ward 5, Jeremiah Ellison held onto his seat in a tight race to win a second term. Ellison narrowly beat nonprofit director Kristel Porter by less than 100 votes in the third round.

Pentecostal minister Victor Martinez also ran for this seat.

UPDATED Nov. 2, 8:50 PM: In Ward 6, the south Minneapolis seat that holds the city’s largest East African immigrant population, Jamal Osman easily retained his seat Tuesday night, defeating Abdirizak Bihi. Osman won a special election last year.

UPDATED Nov. 2, 8:50 PM: Ward 9 encompasses the area where police killed George Floyd. Here, progressive newcomer Jason Chavez, a DFL aide in the state legislature, wins a term to replace retiring Council Member Alondra Cano. His biggest challenge comes from Mickey Moore, a moderate candidate and business owner whose candidacy spawned controversy over whether he lives in the ward.  

UPDATED: Nov. 3, 3:00 PM: Aisha Chughtai, a progressive candidate and union organizer, will replace the south Minneapolis seat that Lisa Bender is leaving. Alicia Gibson came in second place after three rounds of voter tabulation.

Park Board

UPDATED Nov. 2, 9:50 PM: Progressive incumbent Londel French is not doing well in the race for a second term in an at-large seat. He currently has the fifth most first-round votes for three open seats. Moderate candidate Alicia Smith is also running for one of the three at-large seats, and is currently receiving the third-most first choice votes. 

For District 2, which encompasses north Minneapolis, Eric Moran is running behind two other candidates in first-choice votes to replace retiring Commissioner Kale Severson. In District 3, which includes parts of south Minneapolis, incumbent AK Hassan lost his seat to Becky Alper.

Board of Estimate and Taxation

UPDATED Nov. 3, 3:00 PM: Progressive Samantha Pree-Stinson won one of two open seats on this body, which regulates the city’s property taxes and levy taxes. 

St. Paul

Charter Amendments

St. Paul voters will decide whether to approve a rent control measure that will cap yearly increases on all residential rental properties at 3 percent, among other restrictions.

UPDATED Nov. 2, 10:00 PM: With all but one precinct reporting, St. Paul voters approve a new rent control measure.


UPDATED Nov. 2, 10:00 PM: Mayor Melvin Carter easily won a second term. Carter was first elected in 2017 as the city’s first Black mayor.

St. Paul school board

St. Paul Public Schools is facing declining enrollment and growing disparities between white students and students of color. These racial disparities only got worse since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, several candidates are stepping up to the plate.

UPDATED Nov. 2, 10:55 AM: Halla Henderson won a four-year term. James Farnsworth and Jennifer McPherson lost their bids for school board. Halla makes history as the first Eritrean American elected to public office in Minnesota.

Jim Vue, currently vice chair of the board, was reelected to a full four-year term. He was appointed to the board last year after the death of Marny Xiong and won in a special election last fall.

UPDATED Nov. 2, 11:15 PM: Jeannie Foster won her election over Clayton Howatt in a special election for a two-year term.


City Council

UPDATED 10:15 PM: Youth advocate Azrin Awal will become Duluth’s first Asian American city council member.

Awal won almost 31 percent of the votes in an election for one of two at-large seats on the City Council. Awal, an immigrant from Bangladesh, moved to Duluth to attend college six years ago.

Azrin Awal, 25, is the first Asian American and Muslim city council member in Duluth. Credit: Azrin Awal Campaign

“It feels exhilarating,” Awal said. “I recognize the privilege and the honor that comes with that. It makes me want to ground myself with my community even more as we go forward and make positive change.”

Twin Cities suburbs

— Ash Patel lost a bid for Minnetonka City Council. 

—Ayesha Lynn Khan is running behind for a spot on St. Anthony’s city council. 

—In Golden Valley, Loretta Arradondo, the cousin of Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, lost handily in her bid for a spot on the City Council. 

—Former Bloomington school board member Ricardo Oliva lost a bid for a spot on that city’s council. Victor Rivas also lost a bid to represent Ward 4 on Bloomington’s City Council.

School Boards

Several candidates of color have thrown their hat in the ring to serve on school boards across the Twin Cities metro and beyond. 

—In West St. Paul, Elena Villarreal lost a seat for school board. 

—Enrique Ramos lost a spot on Cottage Grove’s school board.

—Marquisha Fulford lost a bid for a seat on Bloomington’s school board. 

—In Eden Prairie, Francesca Pagan-Umar will become the first Muslim American on this city’s school board. Michelle Mattison lost her election for school board seats. 

—Rachel Banks Kupcho won a seat on Richfield’s school board.

—In St. Louis Park, candidate Abdihakim Arabow Ibrahim won a seat on the school board.

Suad (Sue) Said, a sitting school board member in Burnsville who was appointed to her seat, won her first election Tuesday night.

—In Rosemount–Apple Valley–Eagan schools, Art Coulson was reelected and Sakawdin Mohamed won a seat on the school board seats. 

—In Wayzata Public Schools, Milind Sohoni won a seat, while Mariam Siddiqui and Muthu Periakaruppan lost. 

—Tashina Miller lost a bid for a school board seat in Hastings.

Joey Peters is a reporter for Sahan Journal. He has been a journalist for 15 years. Before joining Sahan Journal, he worked for close to a decade in New Mexico, where his reporting prompted the resignation...