Election Day 2021

PRE-NOTE: An outstanding book about the Pandemic, “The Premonition” by Michael Lewis.

A year ago – actually it was November 3, 2020 – was the general election for the United States.  Today is the off-off-year election (duplicate word intended).

If there is an election today in your town, vote well informed.

I early-voted last Friday at the local library.  It was quiet.  There were perhaps a half dozen of us voting at the time.  Process was smooth, as it always is.  Everybody working was polite, as I have come to expect over many years of voting.  I’m guessing there will be near 70,000 eligible voters  in my district today.  I predict the usual small percentage of potential voters actually voting – perhaps 10%.  This is strictly a guess.

The local election this fall is totally public school related: four school board contests, three incumbents (among nine candidates) vying to continue on the Board; two important property tax levy referendums.  I wonder how many of we citizens will even vote, and how many of us understand the implications of our vote (or non-vote).

These will be the only votes I can cast this year for elected representatives.  There is abundant background noise elsewhere about today, but those names or issues are not on my ballot.

For me, in addition to having voted myself, I’ll be watching to see what the voter turnout is tomorrow, and what/who wins.  My benchmark for comparison will be the local vote two years ago, which is recorded here: School Board 2019.

The distinction between local candidates is pretty clear, but you need to work to find it: unstated on the ballot, but central, are things like vaccination, masks, diversity, support for the school referendums or not, community of interest….  The kids most directly affected don’t qualify to vote.  The big people have to do that.

Here is a chart, presenting all the 2021 candidates and access to what is known of their stand on the issues.

(The election in 2019 was “non-partisan”, and best as I can tell, less than 10% of eligible voters actually went to the polls – unfortunately pretty typical for such local issue elections, regardless how important they might be.  We are a generally prosperous district with lots of school age children.

I suspect that “non-partisan” is only a charade, though it will be reported as non-partisan again in the official returns.)

Four of the candidates this year are very obviously and definitely running as a team, probably informally, with virtually identical bright red signs appearing together as a team everywhere in the school district area.  This is no accident.  All that is missing is the partisan label.  I don’t think you’ll find them listed on the internet as a team, though I did see them so listed a week or so ago – I looked.  That reference was taken down.  Their lawn ads only give the most minimal information about them – their names.  I’ll show a photo of typical signage in my end of the week blog. The lawn sign team quite obviously is organized by someone to get out their vote.

The other five candidates have only very minimal signage here and there, all individual, none uniform.

The difference between the candidates is stark, and who will be elected has consequences for us.

Vote well informed.  Stay tuned.  I’ll write some observations perhaps Saturday or Sunday.

MY SCHOOL DISTRICT RESULTS NOV. 2: School District 833 Nov 2 2021.  Everyone could vote for four school board candidates.  Three incumbents were reelected.  The 4th elected was one of the “lawn sign team”.  Compared with 2019, the turnout was heavy for a school board election – by my amateur calculation roughly 25% of eligible voters.  The lawn sign team votes for the four candidates went from 8,652 (the lowest winning vote total) to 8,140.  Two candidates one endorsed by the teachers, the other implicitly endorsed by the local Democrats, tallied a total of 12,039 votes – average of 6,000 each, splitting their vote theoretically costing one of them the election.  There were two referendum questions.  The first, a renewal, passed by 53-47%; the second failed by about 100 votes out of near 21,000 cast.   I am sure there will be lots of post mortems on this.

from Jeff Nov 6: Four takeaways from the 2021 school election results in Minnesota (MinnPost).  Actually I think the candidate Cinta Schmitz in Lakeville was an anti CRT one who won in a close election, less than 100 vote margin, and her description is typical neutral wording…..I saw the same with the Burnsville ones, I am sure this was an organized thing….prompting candidates to run and giving them the type of wording to describe their issues in a non offensive or white backlash way.

Oct 2, 2021, one month before the election in Woodbury MN. These signs, identical, came to be very common all over town. Everything about them suggested coordination, and note the absence of any substantive message other than a name on a red background.  The signs of course have disappeared.  I would surmise that internet references to them have disappeared as well. One of the four persons did win – the one open seat.


From Joyce: Very interesting observation about the identical red signs, always grouped together; yes, clearly, they are running as a team, and clearly, it is no accident that all their signs are red. This is an extremely consequential school board election.

from Steve: Good Morning, Dick. I’m generally a Rank Choice Voting fan, but it does take away the excitement of election night. The mayoral results in Minneapolis will, according to this morning’s paper, will be available on Friday. The school referenda and the charter questions in Mpls will be in tonight. Should be interesting. The public safety question will, I think, have an impact on the legislature–regardless of the decision.  I hope the referenda in both District 833 and 834 pass. The future without this recent federal money will be difficult for schools–as well as the legislature.  I’ll look forward to your thoughts on the results.

from Jeff: The election in Dist 191 (Burnsville-Eagan-Savage) is a pretty tame affair, only 2 people running for 1 seat.    The action is in Dist 196 (Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan) where like in your district, a slate of 3 candidates who are clearly of the anti science, anti diversity, and of course the outrage at CRT group…. they have different colored signs (maybe they figured that one out) but the signs are always together and their local paper ads are together as a group as well.   they have been well funded.  This I believe is yet another piece of what Dr Maclean wrote in that book we noted.   The libertarian authoritarian top of these groups appeals to white outrage and zero sum mentality to install power….I fear that ISD 196 likely will elect some if not all of them as the ads have been relentless for a local school board election.

from Jeff (2) Nov. 3: Conservative media outlets and thinktanks have ignited a groundswell of fear and anger about Critical Race Theory, vaccines and mask mandates in schools. In Minnesota, these concerns have been ignited in private Facebook groups and at rallies around the state. With school board elections on the horizon, progressive candidates have tried to push back on misinformation while elevating their desires for inclusive school environments. Good article on the right wing candidates here in Dakota county… more in-depth than what you usually see. (Article here).

None of the 3 right wingers appear to have won in ISD 191…but they finished 4th, 5th and 6th…..a Somali candidate won the most votes.      In Burnsville ISD 191, we had 2 candidates, one was Sue Said…not sure if she is Ethiopian or Somali but doesn’t wear the hijab.   In any case she easily won in a very low turnout election….like max 2500 voters….we voted at noon in our precinct and were voters 52 and 56.

from Norm (2) Nov. 3: (see also earlier comment at end):  In Roseville, the two-school board incumbents finished first and second and a newcomer defeated another new comer by the slimmest of margins to take the third seat that open.

Both referenda regarding funding for the school district passed fairly easily.

from Molly, a comment which seems pertinent to this conversation:

…I suspect several of you are familiar with [Ray Bradbury’s] writing?
(A lot of it is science fiction, but he worked in several genres…)
There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches. Every minority, be it Baptist/Unitarian, Irish/Italian/Octogenarian/Zen Buddhist, Zionist/Seventh-day Adventist, Women’s Lib/Republican, Mattachine/FourSquareGospel feels it has the will, the right, the duty to douse the kerosene, light the fuse. Every dimwit editor who sees himself as the source of all dreary blanc-mange plain porridge unleavened literature, licks his guillotine and eyes the neck of any author who dares to speak above a whisper or write above a nursery rhyme.
—Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451 (afterword)
5 replies
  1. norm hanson
    norm hanson says:

    [Norm later noted that his comments related to his suburb, which is different than mine, Roseville area. This means I also have to amend my reply, which follows] Norm: Five candidates running for the three seats up for election, two currently held by incumbents and one open seat. I have done some “vetting” and found that none of the five candidates are stealth candidates for the far right, anti-vaxxers, anti-(fill-in-the-blanks) so am comfortable voting later today for anyone of them although I do know which three that I plan to make the mark for.

    • dickbernard
      dickbernard says:

      [Initially I inaccurately construed Norm’s comment as being about my school district. So, I have amended his [in brackets] as well as my own, here.] Thanks for comment. Actually, since I’ve lived in this school district and community for many years and have more than ordinary knowledge of the school district, and public schools generally, and can actually cast a ballot here, etc., I feel qualified to comment. There are four board seats open. One very veteran Board member retired; the other three are incumbents running for reelection, and on the ballot. Some time back I wrote all the Board members and Superintendent a thank you letter for their hard work under very difficult circumstances. Thus you can guess that the three incumbents were people for whom I made the mark. I did vote for a 4th…. I’ll write more this weekend.
      [see bracketed amendment above, and in Norm’s comment as well.]

    • dickbernard
      dickbernard says:

      I agree. My work career was almost entirely with teacher unions in Minnesota. I first noticed this coordination back about 1990 in a Twin Cities suburb, where a religious conservative won a school board seat largely because there was very low voter turnout, and her supporters did what we called a ‘bullet ballot’, voting only for her. To my knowledge she served for years on the Board. I think she became more moderate, but it was newsworthy at the time.


    First of all Dick, you are far from an amateur. I would use the word savvy to describe you.

    There was a shift to the center, or right, depending on your point of view. The Democrats better think smart, and endorse their best electable candidates in 2022. This election was a wake up call, both nationally and locally. (Disclosure: I’m a candidate for the legislature).


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