Polling places for municipal elections in St. Paul opened Tuesday morning for a consequential local election that will decide how the city council is made up, and whether residents will be subjected to a new 1% sales tax.
Four out of the seven city council seats in St. Paul are without incumbents, opening the possibility for a dramatic shift in city policy. The new city council will oversee efforts to lower the cost of living, combat inflation, and establish a new reparations commission.
Turnout was light at the polls, but the voters who showed were clear on why they were there.
“I am a strong believer in public education. And I have three kids right now in St. Paul Public Schools, one in elementary, middle and high school. And so one thing that was really important to me was coming out to vote for really strong school board candidates,” teacher Colleen Coleman said after casting her ballot. “One thing that keeps our city strong is strong public education and I think as a teacher myself, I know, schools have really been struggling.”
“I think that the sales tax thing is getting a little out of control,” Saint Paul voter Tom Anderson said. “So I came out specifically to vote against the sales tax hike, because I think that's going to hurt small businesses in St. Paul.”
Saint Paul’s rent control measure is also a major factor in this year’s election, with significant donations being made to city council candidates who are opposed to the ordinance. The Pioneer Press reported that a coalition of unions, developers and landowners have raised an estimated $700,000 to support their chosen candidates.