Jacob Frey celebrated election night with supporters at Jefe in Marcy-Holmes. Photo by Eric Best

Jacob Frey celebrated election night with supporters at Jefe in Marcy-Holmes. Photo by Eric Best

Frey leads on election night

Updated: November 8, 2017 - 2:14 pm

City reports strong turnout

Jacob Frey led the Minneapolis mayor’s contest on election night, taking nearly 25 percent of first-choice votes with all precincts reporting, according to unofficial returns reported by the Secretary of State’s Office.

The Ward 3 City Council member campaigned on a “fresh start” for a city facing strained relations between the community and its police department, an affordable housing crunch and some of the nation’s widest racial disparities. A Virginia native and attorney, Frey was in a strong position to take the mayor’s office after one term representing a ward that includes the booming North Loop.

Talking from an election night party in Marcy-Holmes, Frey said the field of “extraordinary” challengers brought new viewpoints to conversations on policy.

“I full-heartedly believe that our city collectively has an overarching shared vision of equality and opportunity and inclusivity. While we may diverge on strategies in getting there, that’s OK. In fact, that’s a good thing,” he said. “It’s been a long, tough year and, regardless of what the results are tonight, the city has a really bright future.”

Trailing him in the unofficial first-choice vote tally was Tom Hoch, who founded the Hennepin Theater Trust and served as its president and CEO; Mayor Betsy Hodges; State Rep. Raymond Dehn, who represents parts of North and Downtown; and attorney and activist Nekima Levy-Pounds.

The counting of second- and third-choice votes in the mayor’s race began at 9 a.m. Wednesday morning.

Hodges appeared at her campaign’s election night party at Gandhi Mahal restaurant about an hour after polls closed. She was greeted with cheers from about 50 supporters, but shortly after taking the stage acknowledged she faced long odds.

“The numbers don’t look great for me,” she said in a hoarse-sounding voice, noting it would take at least until the next day to tabulate final results in the city’s third ranked-choice election.

Mayor Betsy Hodges, joined by husband Gary Cunningham, waved to supporters during a brief appearance at her election night party at Gandhi Mahal restaurant. Photo by Dylan Thomas
Mayor Betsy Hodges, joined by husband Gary Cunningham, waved to supporters during a brief appearance at her election night party at Gandhi Mahal restaurant. Photo by Dylan Thomas

“This has been an incredible conversation about the future — it’s not done — but it’s been an incredible conversation about the future of our city and who we are as a people,” Hodges said. “So, everybody who came out, everybody who voted, everybody who participated this year — whoever you voted for, for whatever team you participated on — thank you for loving Minneapolis so much, to be so involved and thinking about who we are and where we go as a people.”

Official 2017 election results won’t be determined until voters’ second and third choices are tallied, a process the city elections office said could take days. Votes in the mayoral contest were to be counted before elections officials moved on to calculating final tallies in the City Council, Park Board and Board of Estimate and Taxation races also on this year’s ballot.

Several City Council races were determined on election night in wards where one candidate passed the 50-percent-plus-one threshold required to win a ranked-choice election. Council members Cam Gordon (Ward 2), Lisa Goodman (Ward 7), Lisa Bender (Ward 10), Andrew Johnson (Ward 12) and Linea Palmisano (Ward 13) reclaimed their seats, and Andrea Jenkins took 5,762 votes (73 percent) to win a four-way race for the open Ward 8 seat. Jenkins’ supporters declared her the first openly trans woman to win a city council seat in a major U.S. city.

Turnout was strong for a city election year, an estimated 10 percentage points higher in 2017 than in 2013. About 94,000 ballots were cast on Election Day, and more than 11,000 ballots were cast during the 35-day early voting period. With 239,750 registered voters in the city on Election Day, voter turnout was an estimated 43 percent.