Union volunteers gave labor-endorsed candidates a boost in Nov. 5 elections

Volunteers plot their course of action after a get-out-the-vote rally at the St. Paul Labor Centre the night before Election Day.

Volunteers plot their course of action after a get-out-the-vote rally at the St. Paul Labor Centre the night before Election Day.

Union volunteers gave labor-endorsed candidates and school levy campaigns a boost during the 2013 election cycle, aiding victories in the City of St. Paul and several East Metro suburbs.

The St. Paul Regional Labor Federation, the AFL-CIO’s central labor council in Ramsey, Washington, Dakota and Chisago counties, recruited 125 volunteers for phone banks, door knocks and other campaign events Oct. 5 through Election Day.

RLF President Bobby Kasper was encouraged by union volunteers’ level of enthusiasm in an odd-year election, calling it a positive sign of things to come in the 2014 cycle.

“Much is at stake in local elections, and I’m proud of the work our volunteers, affiliates and staff did in 2013 to help labor-endorsed candidates across the region,” Kasper said. “It’s also an important building block for the work ahead of us in federal and state races next fall.”

Here’s a look at how candidates and campaigns endorsed by delegates to the St. Paul Regional Labor Federation fared across the East Metro in Nov. 5 voting:

• St. Paul. Mayor Chris Coleman, endorsed by both the RLF and the Chamber of Commerce, won a third term by a landslide, and all three labor-endorsed candidates for Board of Education – newcomer Chue Vue and incumbents Jean O’Connell and John Brodrick – won handily as well.

Results of a special election to fill Ward 1’s seat on the City Council will take longer to determine. RLF-endorsed Noel Nix (24.4 percent) finished second to Dai Thao (28.2 percent) on voters’ first-choice ballots. Thao ran with support from some labor organizations, including Operating Engineers Local 49 and the Service Employees state council.

The eventual winner in Ward 1 will emerge via the city’s ranked-choice voting process, which takes into account the subsequent choices of voters who gave their first preference to trailing candidates. Elections officials will begin the work of determining a majority winner Monday.

• School levies. Voters approved levy referendums endorsed by the RLF in five East Metro school districts: White Bear Lake, Lakeville, Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan, Chisago Lakes and Stillwater.

Other districts in the East Metro that passed levies Nov. 5 include Hastings, Inver Grove Heights, Mounds View, Roseville and South Washington County.

• Maplewood. Voters in Maplewood elected former state legislator Nora Slawik mayor. Running with broad labor support, Slawik drew 67 percent of votes cast.

Two open seats on the Maplewood City Council also went to labor-endorsed candidates: newcomer Mary Lee Abrams and incumbent Kathy Juenemann.

• New Brighton. Endorsed candidates did not fare as well in New Brighton, as all three labor-endorsed campaigns – mayoral candidate Mary Burg and city council candidates Mary Kunesh Podein and Graeme Allen – fell short by narrow margins.

• School boards. Don Mullin, a trade-show decorator and member of the Painters and Allied Trades union, won election in his first campaign for White Bear Lake School Board. Labor-endorsed candidates George Kimball and Janet Newberg also won seats.

Labor-endorsed candidates Art Coulson and Mike Roseen won seats on the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan School Board.

U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum rallies volunteers at a rally in the St. Paul Labor Centre.

U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum rallies volunteers at a rally in the St. Paul Labor Centre.

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