Tagcandidate connection

All candidates answer Ballotpedia’s survey in Minneapolis City Council Ward 11 race

All five candidates in the race for Minneapolis City Council Ward 11—incumbent Jeremy Schroeder (D), Dillon Gherna (D), Emily Koski (D), Albert T. Ross (D), and Kurt Michael Anderson (I)—completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. This survey allows candidates to speak directly to Ballotpedia readers, describing who they are, why they are running, and what they would prioritize if elected.

On Oct. 13, Axios Twin Cities’ Nick Halter wrote that “The City Council has been moving to the left for several years now,” adding, “If you want to know which way the Minneapolis City council is headed, keep an eye on Ward 11.”

Public safety and policing have been key issues in this race and others across Minneapolis. In addition to elected officials, voters in Minneapolis will also decide several local ballot measures, including Question 2, a charter amendment that would replace the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) with a Department of Public Safety (DPS). Last August, Schroeder voted in favor of placing Question 2 on the November ballot.

Minneapolis was one of six cities included in Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection Expansion Project, which allowed local voters to submit questions about pressing issues they wanted their elected officials to address. One of those community questions related directly to Question 2 and candidates’ stances on the measure.

Below are excerpts from each candidates’ surveys in response to this question. Click on candidates’ names to view their full survey responses:

What role do you feel police should play in Minneapolis? What are your thoughts on the city council’s proposed changes to the Minneapolis Police Department?

  1. Schroeder: “Armed police officers cannot solve every public safety issue in the city, and we need to unburden police officers currently faced with the unfair challenge of responding to every kind of crisis.”
  2. Gherna: “The police should maintain their role in the public safety eco-system … I do not believe defunding or abolishing the police will accomplish this.”
  3. Koski: “I do not support the Public Safety Charter Amendment proposed by Yes 4 Minneapolis.”
  4. Ross did not respond to this community question directly, but elsewhere in his survey wrote: “I promise I want to defund or dismantle our Minneapolis Police Department.”
  5. Anderson: “I strongly oppose Charter Amendment 2 … It is the wolf of police defunding dressed in the sheepskin of public safety.”

According to the most recent campaign finance data, Koski led the field with $53,477 on hand followed by Schroeder with $19,549, as of July 27, 2021.

All 13 city council wards are up for election this November. In addition to Ward 11, incumbents are seeking re-election in all but two of the races with a total of 58 candidates running overall. Of those 58 candidates, 20 have completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey.

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All candidates for Academy School District 20 school board in Colorado complete Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey

All 10 candidates for three at-large seats on the Academy School District 20 school board in Colorado have completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. The survey asks candidates questions aimed to help voters learn why candidates are running and what they hope to achieve in office.

Each of the candidates running in the Nov. 2 nonpartisan election responded to questions such as, “Please list below 3 key messages of your campaign. What are the main points you want voters to remember about your goals for your time in office?” and “What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?” 

To read candidates’ responses to these and other questions, click here.

The Academy District 20 Board of Education consists of five voting members elected to four-year terms and one non-voting liaison to the U.S. Air Force Academy. Board members are elected at large. Elections are held on a staggered basis in November of odd-numbered years. Board members elected on Nov. 2 will begin their term on Jan. 1, 2022. One incumbent, Thomas LaValley, is running for re-election. 

Academy School District 20 is located in El Paso County, Colorado. The district contains 40 schools. 

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All candidates for Colorado Springs School District 11 school board complete Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey

All nine candidates for four at-large seats on the Colorado Springs School District 11 school board have completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. The survey asks candidates questions aimed to help voters learn why candidates are running and what they hope to achieve in office.

Seven candidates are running in the Nov. 2 regular election for three at-large seats. The three individuals elected to these seats will serve four-year terms. Two candidates are running in a special election for one at-large seat. The winner of that election will serve a two-year term. Three incumbents are running for re-election.

Each of the candidates responded to questions such as, “Please list below 3 key messages of your campaign. What are the main points you want voters to remember about your goals for your time in office?” and “What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?” 

To read candidates’ responses to these and other questions, click here.

The Colorado Springs School District 11 school board consists of seven members elected to four-year terms. Elections are held on a staggered basis in November of odd-numbered years.

The district is located in El Paso County, Colorado, and contains 55 schools.

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All candidates for Houston Independent School District school board District I seat complete Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey

All three candidates running for the District I seat on the Houston Independent School District board of education have completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. The survey asks candidates questions aimed to help voters learn why candidates are running and what they hope to achieve in office.

Three candidates—incumbent Elizabeth Santos, Matias Kopinsky, and Janette Garza Lindner—are running in the Nov. 2 nonpartisan general election for the District I seat. Five seats on the board are up for election this year: Districts I, V, VI, VII, and IX.  

Excerpts from candidates’ responses to the question, “What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?” are listed below: 

  1. Elizabeth Santos: “I am passionate about demanding that all students have the opportunity to enrich their lives through public education. Our district–like many throughout the state–has structural barriers in its policy that prevent the stable development of arts programs in schools.” 
  2. Matias Kopinsky: “While the current HISD trustees have been responsible for a $2 billion budget, only half of that money has ever seen the classroom. The board continuously votes to decrease the percentage of money that is spent on its most valuable assets: its teachers. Educators are what make up the backbone of the district and should be compensated properly.”
  3. Janette Garza Lindner: “In addition to education, a few other policy areas I am passionate about include health care, especially removing the stigma from mental and emotional health services; agriculture and food policy, including improvements to ensure the nutritional value of our food supply is improved and regenerative practices are more widely used; and our country’s energy policy, especially innovation in generation, transmission and storage to meet our country’s needs for the next 100 years”

To read candidates’ full survey responses, click here

The Houston Independent School District Board of Education consists of nine trustees elected to four-year terms. All board members are elected by district. 

Houston Independent School District is located in Harris County, Texas, and is the largest school district in the state.

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Three Sequim candidates complete Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey

Three city council candidates in Sequim, Wa., completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey in recent weeks. Sequim is located in Clallam County, in the northwestern corner of the state.

Ballotpedia is covering municipal elections on Nov. 2 in Clallam County’s three cities—Port Angeles, Sequim, and Forks. In Sequim, eleven offices are up for election, including seats on the city council, the school board, and the water district.

Incumbent Rachel Anderson is running for Sequim City Council Position No. 4 against challenger Daryl Ness. She listed the following three key campaign messages:

  • “I believe I’m the best choice for City Council seat 4 because I have shown my dedication and commitment to the community. My time as Head Start Policy Council Chairperson, an Olympic Community Action Programs Board Member, a Sequim Education Foundation Board Member, a Sequim Farmers and Artisans Market Board Member and Interim Board President, and as an appointed City Council Member have taught me valuable leadership lessons. It is so critical to the well-being of our community that we come together as team, despite our differences, in order to help the people in our community thrive!
  • My top priority is doing everything we can in order to bring more affordable housing to Sequim. Action items I would promote include: applying for grants and building partnerships federally, state-wide, and locally in order to build affordable housing for the workforce within our community.
  • I promote trust and civility between Council members and the Sequim community by doing everything I can to role model the necessary skills of a council member. Since being appointed, trust and civility have been priorities for my role as a council member, considering all of the controversy and negative attitude toward Sequim and its leadership over the past couple of years. It’s so important that each council member does their part: actively listening, asking questions, and actively respecting the decisions of local agencies and organizations in order to keep our community safe. Great and trustworthy leaders take responsibility, are dependable, and match their actions to their words.”

Incumbent Brandon Janisse is running for Sequim City Council Position No. 5 against challenger Patrick Day. Janisee listed the following three key campaign messages:

  1. “Committing to a city government that is efficient, effective, responsible and transparent
  2. Remaining Non-Partisan in a Non-Partisan position
  3. Supporting Individuals and families who are healing from drug addiction and mental health issues”

Lowell Rathbun is running for Sequim City Council Position No. 6. against Keith A. Larkin. Neither candidate is the incumbent in the race. Rathbun listed the following three key campaign messages:

  • “We must bring transparency, trust, and civil discourse back to our city council.
  • Sequim is in an urgent housing crisis. Tackling this challenge is a top priority.
  • Our city must respond to our homeless, addicted and/or mentally neighbors in a compassionate manner.”

To read more about elections in Sequim and Clallam County in 2021, click here.



Over 4,700 candidates took Ballotpedia’s candidate survey in 2020

Over 4,700 candidates responded to Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey in 2020

For the third year in a row, Ballotpedia invited all candidates in our coverage scope to complete our Candidate Connection survey. In 2020, we covered 29,002 federal, state, and local candidates.  Our survey asks candidates about their backgrounds, priorities, and proposed solutions to the issues faced by their communities, and aims to enable voters to learn more about political candidates as people.

We received submissions from 4,745 candidates—or 16.4% of all 2020 candidates we tracked. 

Here are five highlights:

  • The 16.4% completion rate is more than double the response rate in 2018. That year, we had 1,957 survey respondents out of 28,315 total candidates covered by Ballotpedia that year, for a completion rate of 6.9%.
  • Incumbents accounted for 5.5% of respondents, with challengers making up the remaining 94.5%.
  • Of the 4,745 candidates who completed Ballotpedia’s candidate survey, 743—15.7%—won their elections. In 2018, 477 of the 1,957 candidates who responded to our survey, or 24.4%, won their races.
  • Candidates from all 50 states and the District of Columbia responded to Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection in 2020. Texas had the most respondents with 391, followed by California at 375 respondents and Michigan at 225.
  • Over half of our survey respondents (54.0%) ran for a state legislative office. Those running for Congress were the second-largest group (27.1%), followed by candidates running for state executive seats (3.8%).

Curious what these candidates had to say? Explore a sample of their answers through our Candidate Questions tool!

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Analyzing the demographics of 2020’s Pivot Counties 

ICYMI, we held a briefing last week providing some in-depth analysis of last year’s voter turnout in Pivot Counties. 

Ballotpedia identified 206 counties nationwide that voted for Barack Obama (D) in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections and Donald Trump (R) in 2016. After the 2020 election, we labeled the 181 counties that voted for Trump in 2020 as Retained Pivot Counties and the 25 counties that voted for Joe Biden (D) as Boomerang Pivot Counties.

Here are three interesting facts I learned watching the briefing:

  • Retained Pivot Counties are less populous on average than Boomerang Pivot Counties. The average population of a Retained Pivot County is 62,980 compared to 186,852 of a Boomerang Pivot County. The nationwide county population average is 104,435. From 2016 to 2020, the population of Retained Pivot Counties decreased 0.1%, and Boomerang Pivot Counties increased 1.0%.
  • The average median home value is higher in Boomerang Pivot Counties than in Retained Pivot Counties. The national median home value is $204,900. Thirty-two percent (32%) of Boomerang Pivot Counties have a median value more than the average, compared to 4% of Retained Pivot Counties.
  • Both Retained (79.6%) and Boomerang Pivot Counties (78.2%) have a higher-than-average non-Hispanic white population compared to the national average of 60.1%. In total, 82% of Retained Pivot Counties (149) and 88% of Boomerang Pivot Counties (22) exceed that national rate.

We discussed even more interesting facts about Pivot Counties, including an analysis of counties that have flipped parties every two cycles going back to the 1970s! Click here to watch the full recording of last week’s briefing.

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U.S. Senate has confirmed three Biden Cabinet secretaries so far

One of the leading priorities of a new presidential administration involves selecting and swearing in members of the Cabinet. The president’s Cabinet includes the heads of 15 key executive agencies like the Department of Commerce and Department of Defense. 

Presidents may also give Cabinet-rank status to other specific positions, such as the director of the Central Intelligence Agency or the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. The vice president is also part of the Cabinet. All Cabinet positions—except for the vice president and White House chief of staff—require confirmation by the U.S. Senate.

Seven days after their respective inaugurations, Trump had two main Cabinet members confirmed, and Biden had three.

Obama outpaced both of his successors with 10 confirmations at this point following his inauguration. An eleventh Obama Cabinet member—Secretary of Defense Robert Gates—was held over from the Bush administration.

The following chart compares the pace of Senate confirmations for the main 15 Cabinet members following the inaugurations of Presidents Donald Trump (R) in 2017 and Joe Biden (D) in 2021. We also have a similar chart comparing the pace of Senate confirmations between the Obama and Biden administrations here. These charts do not include other Cabinet-rank positions whose inclusion in the Cabinet varies from administration to administration.

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Ballotpedia’s 2020 Candidate Connection report: 16.4% of candidates completed surveys this election cycle

For the third year in a row, Ballotpedia invited candidates to take part in our Candidate Connection initiative. The survey was open to the 29,002 federal, state, and local candidates that Ballotpedia covered in 2020. Ballotpedia received submissions from 4,745 candidates—or 16.4%—who were running for seats across all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The report answers questions such as:

  • Which state had the highest number of respondents? Texas, with 391 candidates.
  • Which type of office saw the highest completion rate? Congress, 32.9% of congressional candidates completed the Candidate Connection survey.
  • What percentage of respondents won their election bids? 15.7% of respondents.

Ballotpedia’s 2020 Candidate Connection report includes comparisons to the 2018 and 2019 response rates, information about the surveys completed in 2020, and responses from notable candidates in 2020. Learn more by clicking the link.

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