Minn. voters decide local issues in electionby Sasha Aslanian, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Voters in communities around Minnesota cast ballots for a variety of local races.
Here are some of the notable issues.
STATEWIDE: SCHOOL DISTRICTS
Early results indicate most school levies are passing, regardless of whether the issue would result in higher taxes. Dozens of districts only sought renewals, which would keep property taxes at current levels. But even tax increase questions saw success.
More than one-third of all school districts asked voters to approve referendum questions that either maintain or increase spending.
School district leaders say the local property tax funds are crucial because state funding hasn't kept up with inflation over the past decade.
But some of the requests drew the ire of critics who questioned why some districts were seeking tax increases in a year when lawmakers approved hundreds of millions in additional dollars for schools.
Of the 126 districts with ballot questions, 44 of them are asking to renew an already existing levy, meaning there'd be no tax hike. Another 62 districts are seeking a tax increase, and 20 are doing both -- asking for a renewal in one question, then an increase in an additional ballot question.
There are also school board races across Minnesota, including in the state's two largest districts -- Anoka-Hennepin and St. Paul.
DULUTH: PARKS AND LIBRARIES
Residents in Duluth approved a property tax increase of 3.2 percent to maintain the city's parks and libraries.
If it had not passed, the city's 129 parks and public spaces would have taken cuts beyond those instituted recently and rely more heavily on volunteers.
The tax increase will free money from the general fund to avoid big cuts to library services.
VIRGINIA: THE LOCAL HOSPITAL
Residents of the Iron Range town of Virginia, Minn., gave overwhelming approval to change their city charter and allow the city-owned hospital to partner with a larger health care system. Eighty-six percent of the votes cast were in favor of the change.
City leaders said the hospital won't survive unless unless it can affiliate itself with a larger health system.
ST. PAUL: CITY COUNCIL
In St. Paul, voters are choosing new City Council members using a new system called ranked-choice voting.
Voters pick their top choice for office, and can then rank the rest of the field, which can help produce a winning candidate in the event of a tie, or if no candidate gets a majority of the votes.
Ramsey County Elections Manager Joe Mansky said on MPR's Midday program Tuesday that ranked choice voting appeared to be going smoothly.
"From what the judges and a couple voters told me, everybody seems to understand what's going on, what they need to do as far as marking the ballot today," he said. "We'll see tonight if we have seven majority winners or we have to do a couple of reallocations."
Minneapolis began using ranked choice — also known as instant runoff voting — in the 2009 election.
This video explains ranked choice voting in less than two minutes.
(MPR reporters Tom Weber, Tom Robertson and Dan Kraker contributed to this report)