Roseville wants to try instant runoff election
by Mary Lynn Smith - Star Tribune
Published February 27, 2004

In an experiment that could change the way Minnesota elections are won, Roseville residents may put instant runoff voting to a test in an April 20 special election.

The instant runoff plan, a method favored by minor parties seeking to enhance the credibility of their candidates, would eliminate the need for a primary election to narrow the field of five candidates seeking the single City Council vacancy created when Craig Klausing was elected mayor last November.

In instant runoff contests, voters rank candidates by preference and the lowest vote-getters are successively eliminated and their votes allocated based on voter preferences until one candidate has a majority of votes cast. In numerous recent state and national elections, winners have garnered far less than 50 percent of the votes.

The Minnesota Senate approved the Roseville experiment earlier this week. It is still pending in the House and also will need the approval of Gov. Tim Pawlenty and the Roseville City Council.

Roseville would be the "pilot project" for instant runoff voting, which could eventually be used more extensively by cities and school districts, said Bruce Kennedy, of FairVote Minnesota, a nonpartisan, nonprofit group lobbying for instant runoff voting.

Roseville candidates who filed by this week's deadline include:

•Amy Ihlan, a 44-year-old attorney whom the council appointed to temporarily fill Klausing's vacancy. She narrowly lost in the City Council election last fall to incumbent Dean Maschka.

•Gale Pederson, 50, a medical lab and X-ray technician and first-time candidate.

•Dan Roe, a 35-year-old sales manager, who said one of the reasons he joined the race was to ensure a large enough field of candidates to give instant runoff voting a meaningful test.

•John Sheehan, a 22-year-old computer technician at a local fitness club, who lost a 2002 mayoral bid in Oakdale. He moved to Roseville last fall.

•Mark "Z" Zasadny, a 30-year-old state employee, who has run twice against state Sen. John Marty.

The new council member will take office May 10.

Mary Lynn Smith is at mlsmith@startribune.com.

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