Hennepin County is known as the "progressive" county in MN. But we have some of the most conservative elected officials in the county offices - including one extremist Trumper. This is partly because the ballot doesn't have a "DFL" or "GOP" by names on the ballot (these offices are considered "non partisan") and because awareness is low. But the outcome will be incredibly important – a giant step forward or a huge opportunity for progressive change lost.
1) The Hennepin County Sheriff's Race: Vote Dave "Hutch" Hutchinson
Our current sheriff, Richard Stanek, is a Trump buddy, an enthusiastic ICE collaborator (who pretends he's not) and the guy that sent troops to Standing Rock despite that being about as far from Hennepin County business as you can get. If you google "Richard Stanek" you'll get plenty more info (racial slurs he's uttered, activists he's harassed, etc. etc.). He is also GOP endorsed and funded. Here's a little vid about Stanek.
The DFL-endorsed candidate running against Stanek is Dave "Hutch" Hutchinson. If elected he'll be the first openly gay sheriff in the entire midwest. He has vowed to respect the scope of the sheriff's office when it comes to ICE (i.e., it's not the sheriff's job to turn people over to ICE as Stanek does), and to improve crisis intervention with the mentally ill and addicted.
More about Dave "Hutch" Hutchinson.
2) The Hennepin County Attorney Race: Vote Mark Haase
Mike Freeman is an entrenched, 20-year incumbent whose time is up. The county attorney is responsible for prosecuting and guiding the prosecution of crime in Hennepin County. His track record of biased prosecutions has resulted in some of the worst racial disparities in the entire country right here in "progressive" Hennepin County. Freeman is a Democrat, but lost the endorsement to Mark Haase, who has been recruited into this race because it's recognized that change is needed. Mark Haase has worked in criminal justice reform and restorative justice his entire career, and will work to bring innovation to Hennepin County criminal justice. He will de-criminalize poverty, addiction and mental illness so that people are on a path to restoration vs. caught in a perpetual punishment system that stuffs our prisons, breaks our families, wastes our tax dollars and does nothing to make us safer. Mark represents the future of criminal justice, and a very rare opportunity Hennepin County. I hope we don't blow it, people like him don't come along often.
More about Mark.
Recent Strib article about Mark
3) The Hennepin County Commission
The Hennepin County Commission basically decides where the money goes in Hennepin County, impacting public transportation, affordable housing and homelessness, environmental and natural resources, transportation infrastructure, jobs and economic development, healthcare, child welfare (including foster care), library systems, timely 911 dispatch, criminal justice… and more! They create huge change without legislation, just by where they spend the budget or with policy change. The County Commission, which oversees a 2.4 billion (!) dollar budget for programs affecting all of us, has been comprised entirely of white people since its inception in 1852. This is another place where Hennepin County is falling on its face when we talk about being progressive.
Commissioners are elected to 4-year terms that come up different years. Hennepin County has 7 districts, and 3 of these are up for election this year (districts 2, 3 and 4).
See what district you're in here. Then learn about your candidate below:
DISTRICT 4 (Minneapolis): Angela Conley for Hennepin County Commission. Angela is by far the more progressive candidate, and came the closest to winning the endorsement at the convention. She is running against a very entrenched incumbent (Peter McGlaughlin). Angela has worked for both the County and the State. More about Angela here.
DISTRICT 2 (Golden Valley, St. Anthony/Mpls, Plymouth): Irene Fernando for Hennepin County Commission. Irene is an exceptional candidate, the first woman of color endorsed by the DFL for the county commission, and has worked at the leadership level at fortune 500 companies, as well as in the grassroots organizing and mobilizing youth for positive change. She's a proven consensus-builder who gets incredible things done. More about Irene.
DISTRICT 3 (St. Louis Park): Marion Greene for Hennepin County Commission. Vote for DFL-endorsed incumbent Marion Greene, a great progressive track record. More about Marion.