Our weekly summary of state & local news previews Tuesday’s state and local elections and highlights a New York judge declining to block the NYC vaccine mandate. Read all about it in this week’s edition of the State & Local Tap.
We’re three days out from the Nov. 2 election, so be sure you don’t ghost your ballot. Click here to find out what will be on your ballot.
Ballot Measures Update
Nov. 2 preview
Voters in six states will decide 24 statewide ballot measures on Nov. 2. Four of the measures are citizen initiatives, three are advisory questions about taxes in Washington, one is a bond issue for transportation, and the remaining 16 are legislatively referred constitutional amendments.
- Colorado voters will decide three citizen initiatives, including one to increase marijuana taxes and create an out-of-school education program.
- Maine voters will decide three measures:
- a citizen initiative to prohibit the construction of certain electric transmission lines, including the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC);
- The campaigns supporting and opposing the initiative have raised $94 million combined, making the measure’s campaigns the most expensive of 2021 and the most expensive in Maine history.
- a bond issue; and
- a legislatively referred constitutional amendment to create a right to produce, harvest, and consume food.
- a citizen initiative to prohibit the construction of certain electric transmission lines, including the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC);
- New Jersey voters will decide two constitutional amendments, one concerning college sports betting and one concerning raffles.
- New York voters will decide five constitutional amendments concerning redistricting, environmental rights, voting policies, and the NYC Civil Court.
- Texas voters will decide eight constitutional amendments, including two that are responses to COVID-19 regulations.
- Proposition 3 would prohibit the state or any political subdivision from enacting a law, rule, order, or proclamation that limits religious services or organizations.
- Proposition 6 would give residents of nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, or state-supported living centers a right to designate an essential caregiver that may not be prohibited from visiting the resident.
- Washington voters will decide three advisory questions on taxes recently passed by the legislature.
Click here to see live election results updates Tuesday night.
A total of 39 statewide ballot measures were certified for the 2021 ballot in nine states.
- 24 measures were certified for the Nov. 2 ballot.
- 4 measures have been certified for the Nov. 13 ballot.
- 4 measures were on the ballot on May 18 in Pennsylvania. They were approved.
- 7 bond measures were on the ballot on March 2 in Rhode Island. They were approved.
2022 ballot measures
Sixty-one statewide measures have been certified for the 2022 ballot in 29 states so far.
- No new measures were certified for the ballot last week.
States in session
Seven state legislatures—Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—are in regular session.
Local Ballot Measures: The Week in Review
In 2021, Ballotpedia is providing comprehensive coverage of elections in America’s 100 largest cities by population and all state capitals. This encompasses every office on the ballot in these cities, including their municipal elections, trial court elections, school board elections, and local ballot measures. Ballotpedia also covers all local recall elections, as well as all local ballot measures in California and a selection of notable local ballot measures about elections, police-related policies, and race and ethnicity. Recent and upcoming local ballot measure elections are listed below:
- Ballotpedia is covering 156 local ballot measures on the Nov. 2 ballot in 18 states.
- Arizona – Voters in Chandler, Gilbert, Scottsdale, and Tucson will decide on 11 local ballot measures.
- California – Voters in 18 different cities, school districts, and special districts in 11 different California counties will decide 19 local ballot measures.
- Colorado – Ballotpedia is covering 21 local ballot measures in Colorado for voters in three cities, two counties, and two school districts.
- Florida – Ballotpedia is covering one measure in Miami and eight measures in St. Petersburg.
- Georgia – Ballotpedia is covering two local ballot measures in Georgia for voters in one city school district and one county.
- Idaho – Ballotpedia is covering two local ballot measures in Idaho for voters in one city and one school district.
- Maryland – Ballotpedia is covering one local ballot measure: a measure in the city of Greenbelt that would create a 21-member commission to review, discuss, and make recommendations on local reparations for African American and Native American residents of Greenbelt.
- Massachusetts – Ballotpedia is covering three local ballot measures in Boston.
- Michigan – Ballotpedia is covering four local ballot measures in Detroit and Ann Arbor.
- Minnesota – Ballotpedia is covering four local ballot measures in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
- New Mexico – Voters in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and the public school districts of the two cities will decide 16 local ballot measures.
- New York – Voters in Albany will decide two local ballot measures
- Ohio – Voters in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Toledo, Hamilton County, and Lucas County will decide 10 local ballot measures.
- Pennsylvania – Voters in Philadelphia will decide four charter amendments.
- Texas – Ballotpedia is covering 28 measures in two cities, two counties, and 11 school districts.
- Virginia – Ballotpedia is covering two local ballot measures in Richmond and Virginia Beach.
- Washington – Voters in King County will decide two local ballot measures.
- Wyoming – Voters in Laramie County will decide on 14 local ballot measures.
Below are some of the notable local measures on Nov. 2:
- Voters in Austin, Texas, will decide an initiative to establish minimum police staffing requirements resulting in the city having to hire additional police officers. The initiative was also designed to require additional police officer training and create certain police hiring guidelines and incentives.
- Voters in Minneapolis, Minnesota, will decide an initiative to replace the city police department with a department of public safety.
- Voters in Cleveland, Ohio, will decide an initiative to make changes related to police oversight, discipline, and policies.
- Voters in Albany, New York, will decide a measure to give the existing Community Police Review Board more authority over investigation and oversight over complaints against police.
- Voters in Detroit, Michigan, will decide a measure to create a city reparations committee tasked with making recommendations for housing and economic development programs for Black Detroit residents.
- Voters in Tucson, Arizona, will decide a $15 per hour minimum wage initiative.
- Voters in Broomfield, Colorado; Ann Arbor, Michigan; and Westbrook, Maine, will decide measures to enact ranked-choice voting.
Sixty-four state legislative special elections have been scheduled in 21 states so far this year. Forty-four specials have taken place already. Heading into those races, Democrats had previously controlled 21 of the seats, and Republicans previously controlled 23. Two seats flipped from Democratic control to Republican control, and one seat flipped from Republican control to Democratic control.
- In special elections between 2011 and 2020, one party (either Republicans or Democrats) saw an average net gain of four seats nationally each year.
- An average of 57 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past six even years (2010: 30, 2012: 46, 2014: 40, 2016: 65, 2018: 99, 2020: 59).
- An average of 88 seats were filled through special elections in each of the past five odd years (2011: 94, 2013: 84, 2015: 89, 2017: 98, 2019: 77).
Upcoming special elections include:
- Georgia House of Representatives District 165
- Kentucky State Senate District 22
- Kentucky House of Representatives District 51
- Kentucky House of Representatives District 89
- Maine House of Representatives District 86
- Massachusetts House of Representatives Fourth Essex District (primary)
- Michigan State Senate District 8
- Michigan State Senate District 28
- Mississippi State Senate District 32
- Mississippi State Senate District 38
- New York State Senate District 30
- New York State Assembly District 86
- Pennsylvania House of Representatives District 113
- Pennsylvania House of Representatives District 164
- Rhode Island State Senate District 3
- Louisiana State Senate District 27 (primary)
- Louisiana House of Representatives District 16 (primary)
- Louisiana House of Representatives District 102 (primary)
Previewing the Virginia governor’s race
Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) and Glenn Youngkin (R), a former co-CEO of The Carlyle Group, a global investment firm, are running for governor of Virginia. Incumbent Gov. Ralph Northam (D) is term-limited.
An average of the five most recent polls, conducted between Oct. 10 and 25, showed 48% of respondents supporting McAuliffe and 47% supporting Youngkin.
The Washington Post’s Dan Balz wrote that the race “can begin to answer some of the questions about the current state of the electorate and forces that will shape the races next year.” Walz said that includes “the role of Donald Trump as a motivator, for Republicans but especially for Democrats, and how that affects who votes and who doesn’t.”
The outcome of this election, in addition to the state’s House of Delegates elections, will also determine Virginia’s trifecta status. Virginia became a Democratic trifecta in 2019.
Democrats have won four of the five most recent gubernatorial elections and all thirteen statewide elections in Virginia since 2012. In 2019, Democrats won majorities in both the state House and Senate, creating a Democratic trifecta in Virginia for the first time since 1994. Most recently, Joe Biden (D) won the state in the 2020 presidential election, beating Trump 54-44%.
Previewing the Pennsylvania Supreme Court election
Kevin Brobson (R) and Maria McLaughlin (D) are running in the Nov. 2 general election for a seat on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Justice Thomas Saylor (R), who joined the court in 1998, is not running for another term because he turned 75 in 2021. Pennsylvania judges must retire at the end of the calendar year in which they reach 75 years of age. Brobson received 52% of the vote in the Republican primary, defeating Patricia McCullough and Paula A. Patrick. McLaughlin ran unopposed in the Democratic primary.
Mark Scolforo of the Associated Press wrote in July: “The result won’t shift power on the high court, currently with a 5-2 Democratic majority, but in a state where the two parties have for decades been locked into a perpetual death match over political control, it will surely draw considerable money and the most statewide attention.”
This is the first state supreme court election in Pennsylvania since 2017, when three justices were up for election or retention. The partisan balance of the court changed as a result of the 2015 elections from a 4-3 Republican majority to a 5-2 Democratic majority. After 2021, the next scheduled election for a seat on the court is in 2022, as current chief justice Max Baer (D) will reach the mandatory retirement age of 75 that year. After that, the next scheduled state supreme court elections in Pennsylvania will take place in 2025 when the three Democratic justices first elected in 2015 will be up for re-election.
Previewing the upcoming school board elections
School board elections have become a major focal point in the 2021 elections, driven by everything from the coronavirus pandemic to debates over school curriculum and policies. This year, we are covering 503 school board races in 180 districts across 24 states. Sixty of those seats are up for election on Nov. 2.
Here’s a preview of two upcoming battleground school board elections.
Three seats on the board are up for general election on Nov. 2. All three incumbents are not seeking re-election. The election will help determine the board’s governing majority for the next two years. Danielle Varda and Jeffrey Wilhite are running in District 1. David Johnson, Paula Reed, and Theresa Shelton are running in District 2. Kathy Miks and Mary Parker are running in District 5. Varda, Reed, and Parker are running together as the Jeffco Kids Slate. The Jefferson County Education Association (JCEA), the local teachers’ union, endorsed this slate. Another slate of candidates with no formal name, composed of Wilhite, Shelton, and Miks, was endorsed by the Jefferson County Republicans. According to Chalkbeat, the Jeffco Kids Slate is prioritizing staff hiring, teacher retention, and neighborhood schools, while their opponents are running on the issues of fiscal management and expanding school choice.
Nine seats on the Atlanta Public Schools school board in Georgia—three at-large and six district seats—are up for general election. Six incumbents are seeking re-election: Cynthia Briscoe Brown (At-Large District 8), Jason Esteves (At-Large District 9), Aretta Baldon (District 2), Michelle Olympiadis (District 3), Erika Yvette Mitchell (District 5), and Eshé Collins (District 6). Three incumbents are not seeking re-election: Kandis Wood Jackson (At-Large Seat 7), Leslie Grant (District 1), and Nancy Meister (District 4). With one-quarter of APS students enrolled in charter and partner schools, standards for renewing and expanding charter schools have been a major issue in this race. COVID-19 response policies, including mask and vaccine mandates, are also an issue. The 2021 election is the last election during which every board seat is up for election simultaneously, as Georgia’s HB 1075 changed the state’s school board election process so that members’ terms are staggered.
Previewing the upcoming city elections
Ballotpedia covers municipal elections in the 100 largest cities in the U.S. by population and in all 50 state capitals regardless of population. Our coverage of municipal elections this year includes 40 mayoral elections, 27 of which are taking place Nov. 2. Here’s a preview of some of the upcoming battleground city elections.
At-Large City Councilors Annissa Essaibi George and Michelle Wu are running for Boston mayor. Essaibi George has said her background as a teacher equips her to address issues with the city’s schools and has emphasized her opposition to decreasing the police department budget. Wu has highlighted her prioritization of climate issues and her support for rent control to provide short-term relief for renters. Both candidates have union backing in the race. Acting Mayor Kim Janey, who lost in the primary, and Democratic Sens. Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts are among Wu’s endorsers. Former Boston Police Commissioner William Gross endorsed Essaibi George. The winner will be Boston’s first elected female mayor.
Incumbent Jacob Frey (D), AJ Awed (D), Katherine Knuth (D), Sheila Nezhad (D), and thirteen other candidates are running in a ranked-choice election for mayor of Minneapolis. Frey was elected in 2017. This election is the first since George Floyd’s death, and the candidates have staked out differing positions on criminal justice policies and policing. The race is also taking place against the backdrop of three proposed amendments to the city’s charter, which voters will decide on Election night. The amendments include one that would change the city’s approach to policing, one that would change the balance of power between the mayor and the city council, and one that would allow the city to enact rent control policies. Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) are among Frey’s endorsers. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) has endorsed both Knuth and Nezhad. Under a ranked-choice voting system, voters can rank up to three choices on the ballot.
Ann Davison and Nicole Thomas-Kennedy are running in the general election. Davison said the city needs “balanced leadership that makes us smart on crime: proactive not reactive” and said she would “focus on improving efficiencies within division in regards to zoning” and “transform existing Mental Health Court to specialized Behavioral Health Court for cases that involve mental health, substance use disorder or dual diagnosis.” Thomas-Kennedy is running on a platform of decriminalizing poverty, community self-determination, green infrastructure, and ending homeless sweeps, and said, “Every year the City Attorney chooses to prosecute petty offenses born out of poverty, addiction and disability. These prosecutions are destabilizing, ineffective, and cost the City millions each year.” Former governor Dan Evans (R), former King County Prosecutor Chris Bayley (R), former Seattle Municipal Judge Ed McKenna, and the Seattle Times endorsed Davison. The Seattle newspaper The Stranger, Former Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn (D), and several local Democratic party organizations endorsed Thomas-Kennedy.
Two states enact congressional, legislative redistricting proposals
Two states—Texas and West Virginia—enacted congressional and legislative redistricting plans this week.
Texas enacted new congressional districts on Oct. 25 when Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed a proposal approved by the Texas House and Senate into law. This map will take effect for Texas’ 2022 congressional elections. The legislature approved a final version of the map on Oct. 18 with the Senate approving, 18-13, and the House approving the plan, 84-59. Texas was apportioned 38 seats after the 2020 census, a net gain of two seats as compared to apportionment after the 2010 census.
The Texas House and Senate approved maps for each other’s districts on Oct. 15. The House approved the Senate plan by an 81-60 vote, and the Senate approved the House map by an 18-13 vote.
West Virginia enacted new congressional districts on Oct. 22 when Gov. Jim Justice (R) signed a proposal approved by the House of Delegates and Senate into law. On Sept. 30, the House and Senate Redistricting Committees released 18 congressional district map proposals. The West Virginia Senate passed a plan on Oct. 13 by a 30-2 vote that Sen. Charles S. Trump IV proposed. The House voted 84-12 to approve the proposal on Oct. 14. West Virginia was apportioned two seats after the 2020 census, a net loss of one seat as compared to apportionment after the 2010 census.
West Virginia also enacted new state legislative districts on Oct. 22 when Gov. Jim Justice (R) signed map proposals approved by both legislative chambers. The Senate Redistricting Committee approved its map by a 31-2 vote on Oct. 19, and the House approved that map, 72-19. A single-member district map proposal for the West Virginia House of Delegates passed that chamber on Oct. 13, 79-20, and that proposal passed the state Senate on Oct. 18 by a 28-5 vote.
Six states have adopted congressional maps, one state’s congressional map is awaiting approval by the state supreme court, six states were apportioned one congressional district (so no congressional redistricting is required), and 37 states have not yet adopted congressional maps after the 2020 census. Congressional redistricting has been completed for 66 of the 435 seats (15.2%) in the U.S. House of Representatives. At this point in the 2010 redistricting cycle, 24 states had enacted new congressional maps.
Eight states have adopted legislative maps, one state’s legislative map is awaiting approval by the state supreme court, one state enacted its legislative boundaries based on Census estimates which will be revised in an upcoming special session, and 40 states have not yet adopted legislative redistricting plans after the 2020 census. Nationwide, legislative redistricting has been completed for 304 of 1,972 state Senate seats (15.4%) and 758 of 5,411 state House seats (14%). At this point in the 2010 redistricting cycle, 26 states had enacted state legislative maps.
New York judge declines to block NYC vaccine mandate
On Oct. 27, New York Supreme Court 2nd Judicial District Judge Lizette Colon dismissed the Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York’s (PBA) request to temporarily block Mayor Bill de Blasio’s city employee vaccine mandate, which was scheduled to take effect Oct. 29. The PBA is the city’s largest police union.
De Blasio announced the vaccine mandate on Oct. 20. The mandate requires city employees to have received at least one dose of a vaccine by 5 p.m. on Oct. 29. De Blasio said city employees who could not provide proof of vaccination would be placed on unpaid leave.
The PBA sued the city on Oct. 25 and asked the state Supreme Court to block the mandate while the lawsuit works its way through court.
Ballotpedia is tracking state employee vaccine requirements. To date, 20 states have required state employees to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
Michael DiMassa (D) resigns from Connecticut state House
Connecticut state Rep. Michael DiMassa (D-116) resigned on Oct. 25 after he was indicted on charges of wire fraud.
DiMassa submitted a letter of resignation dated Oct. 21 that the secretary of state received on Oct. 25. DiMassa was arrested on Oct. 18 after he allegedly created a fraudulent company that received more than $600,000 in COVID-19 relief funds.
DiMassa was first elected to represent the 116th district in 2017, after defeating Richard DePalma (R) 73.39% to 26.61%.
Vacancies in the Connecticut state legislature are filled by special elections. The governor must call for an election no later than 10 days after the vacancy happens, and all special elections must be held no later than 46 days after a governor’s declaration. If the vacancy happens with less than 125 days left before the general election, the special election must be held on the same day as the general election. No election can be called by the governor if the vacancy happens with less than 49 days before the general election.As of October 2021, there have been 116 state legislative vacancies in 41 states. Five of those vacancies have occurred in Connecticut.