Therefore, here's my endorsements on the downticket races on my ballot (South Minneapolis). These aren't based on anything fancy; I just spent the hour reading through candidate statements in the Star Tribune (link) and looking at their websites so you don't have to. Also, I met my state representative, Jim Davnie, last week and took him to be a thoughtful, smart man who generally agreed with me, so I weighted his endorsements fairly highly in my thinking.
You may wish to fill out a sample ballot and take it with you to the polls.
As an aside, I will also be proudly voting for Barack Obama, Al Franken, Keith Ellison, and Jim Davnie (state House).
"Clean water, wildlife, cultural heritage and natural areas". I will vote yes, though somewhat reluctantly. I do believe it is very important to fund these sorts of efforts. I do not believe it is appropriate to muck around in the state Contstitution for this sort of thing -- it's a funding decision, which is a job for the Legislature. It's a regressive tax, which I don't like. I am also concerned that the Legislature will simply trim discretionary funding, resulting in no net effect. However, I don't trust the Legislature to do much about increasing funding, and if they do, I expect Pawlenty to veto it. Also, the amendment sunsets in 25 years.
Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor - District 3
(District 1 is unopposed.)
I will vote for James Wisker. He's young, but he has a relevant degree, has relevant and reasonable opinions, and seems to be taking the race seriously.
- Richard A. Klatte - Does not appear to be serious. Candidate statement (in full): "Global Warming. Making big oil companies pay for cleaning the air, water, and soil they've destroyed."
- Rahn V Workcuff - Candidate statement is anti-gay-marriage rant.
- Ben Torell - Too corporate; candidate statement is ungrammatical and badly capitalized. Also, he's a snowmobile/ATV safety instructor, and I don't want anyone associated with those horrible machines anywhere near my soil and water. I suspect he may be a "wise use" right-winger.
In this race I was not particularly happy with either candidate. However, I will vote for Jeffrey A. Beck (not the Jeff Beck who works in GroupLens) because he's not the other candidate.
- Karl Hanson - Anti-government right-winger. Candidate statement talks about property owners' right to "absolutely minimal government interference" and reducing taxes.
I will be voting for:
- Lydia Lee - Candidate statement seems reasonable and thoughtful. Endorsed by people I like. Also (and this is silly), she lives near one of my friends, whose neighbors like her.
- Carla Bates - Endorsements by people I like, including Davnie. Has a Ph.D. She is a lesbian, and so I suspect she'd bring an important perspective to the school board.
- Jill Davis - Endorsed by people I like. Mentions sustainability.
- Doug Mann - Doesn't seem to be a serious candidate (Strib photo is awful).
- Sharon Henry-Blythe - Incumbent, but no candidate photo on Strib. No endorsements from people I know. No campaign website.
- Kari Reed - Home-schooler. No serious endorsements. Opposes school funding referendum (below). I fail to see how a serious school board candidate can oppose increasing school funding; the job is to advocate for schools and that includes advocating for resources.
This is a funding referendum that will increase property taxes. I will be voting yes because I have never heard anything about public schools being in anything other than an urgent to desperate financial situation. My mom was a schoolteacher for many years and always struggled for adequate funding.
School District Ballot Question 2
This expands the school board from 7 to 9 seats and introduces 6 district-based seats. (Currently, all seats are at-large.) I will be voting yes because this eliminates the need for all candidates to run an expensive city-wide campaign and because it ensures that all parts of the city have representation (currently, North Minneapolis regularly gets shafted).
Supreme Court - Associate Justice 3
I will be voting for Paul H. Anderson (incumbent) because he seems pretty reasonable and Tim Tingelstad is a right-wing nutjob and strict constructionist, just like Scalia and Thomas.
Supreme Court - Associate Justice 4
I will be voting for Lorie Skjerven Gildea (incumbent) because she seems pretty reasonable and there's strong circumstantial evidence (2nd section) that Deborah Hedlund responds with agreement to racist anti-Obama hate e-mail.
Court of Appeals - Judge 16
I will be voting for Terri J. Stoneburner (inc) because she seems pretty reasonable and Dan Griffith is running to make a statement about judicial elections, not because he wants the seat.
4th District Court - Judge 9
I will vote for Philip D. Bush (inc), despite the fact that his name is Bush, because he seems pretty reasonable, is endorsed by people I like, and Eugene Link did not respond to the Strib candidate profile questionnaire.
4th District Court - Judge 53
I will vote for Jane Ranum because she's endorsed by people I like and talks about procedural fairness. David J. Piper is endorsed by a bunch of sheriffs, which makes me suspicious.
4th District Court - Judge 58
No endorsement here... I couldn't figure it out. James T. Swenson (inc) seems reasonable, endorsed by Arne Carlson, but also Sheriff Rich Stanek (yeccch). Thomas F. Haeg - nothing much interesting here either. He talks a lot about cutting costs, which is often code for right-wing nutjobbery. Anticlimactic, I know... sorry! If you have any ideas, please let me know.
Here's another analysis of the Minneapolis ballot which I found interesting: Turtle's Voting Guide: The Whole Darn Ballot. He's more or less in agreement with me, with some more nuanced views on the school board races/referenda in particular.
That's all folks! Go vote! This may be the most important election of your lifetime.